The Animatrix is a collection of several animated short films, detailing the backstory of the "Matrix" universe, and the original war between man and machines which led to the creation of the Matrix.
Directed by: Peter Chung
, Andrew R. Jones
, Yoshiaki Kawajiri
, Takeshi Koike
, Mahiro Maeda
, Kôji Morimoto
, Shinichirô Watanabe
. Starring: Kevin Michael Richardson
, Pamela Adlon
, John DiMaggio
, Tom Kenny
, Rick Gomez
, Tara Strong
, Bette Ford
, Julia Fletcher
, Dane A. Davis
, Debi Derryberry
, Jill Talley
, Dwight Schultz
, James Arnold Taylor
. Music by: Don Davis
, Machine Head
Animatrix is a collection of nine animated shorts related to different aspects of Matrix. The stories are directly or indirectly related to what happens in the movie, filling-in some unexplained facts, and exploring the matrix from an outsider-insider point of view.
"Final Flight of the Osiris" (Andy Jones) is a literal transcription of an episode in the movie. The animation itself is amazing, and the opening scene extremely sexy, but the virtuosity of the video-game animation is not paired with a creative approach. I suspect, it was included in the compilation to catch the eye of those video-gamers who might end buying the Matrix's video-game.
"Program" (Yoshiaki Kawajiri) is an Akira-style short animation piece. The use of basic colors (white, red, black and gray, traditional Japanese elements (castles, samurais, swords, bamboo, silhouettes), and an edgy Manga action creates a visually astonishing piece of animation. It re-creates Cypher's betrayal of his crew of renegades, but giving it a medieval-Japan-Samurai twist.
"World Record" (Takeshi Koike) is an original piece that uses the matrix concept to expand it on its own, unconnected to any direct episode in the movie. It is about the awakening to the reality of the matrix by the main character, a famous Afro-American runner. The piece is shot in a mix of grays, blacks, beige and yellow colors, and uses shading brilliantly. The backgrounds are very artsy, according to Koike they were inspired by Gaudi's architecture. I found the piece, despite being made by a Japanese, very American in its vibe and energy, in the drawing of the characters and their personalities; still, there is a powerful unique narrative that is very Japanese, that tries to tell a story without forgetting technical innovation. Terrific is the way the movement of the athlete is captured, slowed and micro-analyzed, and also the fact that the Afro-Americans are not drawn in brown colors but in different shades of gray. Supercool.
"The Second Renaissance 1 and 2" (Mahiro Maeda) fill in the missing story of what happened to the Human Race until they became dominated by the machines. In another words, it offers a mythology of the Matrix that was only hinted in the movie. It uses colorful Mandalas (with a mix of Buddhist and Brahman elements)attached to the female goddess-narrator, but has subdued colors when the documentary-like piece fill the viewer with the details of the war between humans and machines. It has a terrific story-telling, and it is very universal in a way. It uses elements of all religions, shows humans from different religions and cultures, depicts the violent acts of the humans using embedded references to tragic events happened in recent wars (WWII, Vietnam, Irak) and offers an unadorned, still entertaining, view of the sins of the modern human race.
"Beyond" (Koji Morimoto) is a beautiful naturalistic short, Ghibli-Studio-like in the use of colors, shadows and lighting, the magic realism of of daily life, and the virtuosity of the drawing. The episode has a connection to the Matrix, the cat appearing from another dimension in the movie, is the one here. But that is is. Morimoto creates for us an error in the matrix program affecting a house visited for the characters in this movie. The house is sort of enchanted, and visitors can levitate. It replies with verisimilitude to the question, how would humans notice a loop in the program? how would affect them? Simply wonderful.
"Kid's Story" (Shinichiro Watanabe) tells about the awakening to the reality of an American teen student who has been contacted by Neo. It has a lucid dream approach and has some lyric moments. However, this is mostly an escape story, full of action and angst. The animation style is a bit weird, as it the movie was constantly blur. This is intentional, and it is used to tell the viewer that our character is in a reality that is not dream, still not completely awake. The piece is extremely dynamic, with a great music, and some poetic moments, but not as engaging as the others.
"A Detective Story" (Shinichiro Watanabe) is a masterpiece of animation, drawn in a grainy BW that mimics ink-drawing, but adding some cut-out colors, typical of some American comics for adults. It also replicates the mood and style of the detective B-movies of the 50s, but mixed with a retro-futuristic Chinatown approach the matrix (very Dark-City in a way). It is super-stylish and engaging, linked to the movie by the search of Trinity. The music is very jazzy, perfect for a 1950s sort of film. I would have liked to be longer and a bit more daring, so much I enjoyed it!
"Matriculated" (Peter Chung) is a very psychedelic, hallucinogenic, colorful and philosophical piece of animation, and the most daring, from a narrative point of view, of the lot. It does reverse the matrix principles of the machines using a program mimicking human reality and subconscious world to put them at their service. In this short, the renegades reprogram the captured machines and connect them to their consciousness so it tricks the machine thinking that is a program and that they are also machines. It explores the concept of universal consciousness, and how machines could be fooled. It is a very Asimov approach to the story.
Animatrix is funky, artistic, and very entertaining. Not for small kids, though. The main problem with the compilation is that the quality of the pieces varies enormously, and that you need to watch it after the Matrix (the movie), and understand the intricacies of the matrix itself to comprehend the stories in the shorts. It is not rocket-science, but if you haven't done that, the movie won't work for you. Animatrix is a companion to the film, therefore, watching it on its own could be disappointing, unless you are interested in animation per se.
Review by Imdbidia from the Internet Movie Database.