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From the creators of The Matrix trilogy, this groundbreaking collection of nine short films from seven of the world's leading anime directors provides a visionary fusion of CG-Animatrion and Japanese anime.
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Matrix writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski commissioned seven artists from Japan, America and Korea to make nine short films set in the world of their feature trilogy. Some of the top anime directors contributed to this anthology, including Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll), Koji Morimoto (Robot Carnival), and Shinchiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop). Some of the films tie directly into the narrative of the live-action movies. Drawn in a style reminiscent of Jean "Moebius" Giraud, Mahiro Maeda's The Second Renaissance (Part I & Part II) depicts the human-machine wars that caused the enslavement of humanity and the creation of the Matrix. The duel between two flamboyantly costumed Kabuki warriors in Kawajiri's Program is an expanded version of the cybernetic training Neo (Keanu Reeves) undergoes in the first Matrix film. Watanabe evokes the look of old newspaper photographs in A Detective Story, which falls outside the storyline of the features. Fast-paced, violent and grim, The Animatrix is an uneven but intriguing compilation that represents a new level in the ongoing cross-pollination between Japanese animation and American live action. (Not rated, suitable for ages 16 and older: considerable violence, violence against women, grotesque imagery, brief nudity, alcohol use) --Charles Solomon
- "Scrolls to Screen: The History and Culture of Anime" documentary
- 7 featurettes with director profiles, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of each of the films
- 4 audio commentaries
- "Enter the Matrix" videogame trailer
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Top customer reviews
It's just a shooting gallery, bad guys get shot and they keep coming. So, yes, I guess this 4 star review is starting off kind of bad.
All the others I loved though. There were some very powerful images in the Second Renascence shorts. The mechanical horse haunts my memories for some reason. And I loved the theme of the track and field short where an athlete is so incredibly in his zone that he become aware of the matrix. I like to think that of all the folks who would become aware, all star athletes would be among the most likely.
However, those hoping to get all of their Matrix-universe questions answered before the release of "Matrix: Revolutions" may be sorely disappointed by this showcase. Although some short films provide backstory (more in the descriptions below), they are also standalone pieces. The strength of this collection is in the strength of its contributors, and it provides a diverse cross-section of modern Japanese anime which will give the uninitiated an opportunity to see what's being produced.
The short films in the collection are:
"Final Flight of the Osiris" - This short produced by Square (also the production company for some of the best video games of the past decade, and the "Final Fantasy" film) provides an almost creepy example of "digital actors" whose skin texture, bounce and movement are nearly impossible to distinguish from the real thing. Only their lip sync gives it away. The story involves the captain and pilot of the Osiris, the doomed ship which (in the Reloaded timeline) sends the warning to Zion that the machines are digging. It is also a direct introduction to the "Enter the Matrix" video game, as it depicts the drop of the letter which Niobe or Ghost must retrieve from a post office in the first act of the game.
"The Second Renaissance, Parts I and II" - If one can overlook the fact that more information is contained in this "Zion Archive file" than Morpheus told Neo the humans knew, these two short films provide a compelling and lushly illustrated history of the fall of humanity and the rise of the machines. In particular, the fluid art style and the haunting voice-over make this an easy 18 minutes to spend, and it invokes more sympathy for the machines than you'll get from the human-centric viewpoint of the Matrix films.
"Program" is the weakest film in the series; mercifully, it is short. Although the animation style is as classic in the world of anime as "Snow White" is in the world of Disney, the story line is weak. I enjoy this more if I turn down the sound and just watch.
"World Record" attempts to illustrate what happens to a human in the Matrix whose desire to accomplish something physically pushes him to the brink of the reality he thinks he knows. The art design is not for everyone, but is beautifully realized with tremendous detail in every cell. The music is also a plus. This won't add much to your "Matrix IQ" but is a very creative exploration of what happens to people whose minds are not freed by the Zionists, and who do not find their way out through a computer.
"Kid's Story" is one of my two favorites on the disc. It ties into "Matrix: Reloaded" by telling us how the annoying kid in Zion came to know and love Neo. It's no secret to those who have seen the film that the kid "self-substantiates", or gets himself out of the Matrix without help. His journey to that point, though, is detailed in a lush, deliberately-paced, gorgeously-scored piece of animation that will leave you breathless. One of two films directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of "Cowboy Bebop" fame.
"Beyond" - Koji Morimoto (an assistant animator on the legendary "Akira") turns in the most inventive and beautiful short piece of the disc. It takes a simple question - what would happen if the Matrix's physical rules malfunctioned in some locations? - and explores the answer, from the bizarre physical happenings that children call hauntings to the arrival of futuristic wrecking equipment that razes and rewrites the affected locale. This, along with "Kid's Story", makes the DVD worth the price of admission.
"Detective Story" - this black-and-white second entry from director Shinichiro Watanabe plays like a Sam Spade film. Its comic book style is stark and beautiful, and the addition of Carrie-Anne Moss's voice really grounds it in the Matrix universe. At the end of the day the story doesn't matter much, but it's an enjoyable nine minutes all the same.
"Matriculated" - Peter Chung (of Aeon Flux) shows a real flair here for art, but tells a somewhat convaluted story of humans who try to get machines to "choose" to betray their own kind. My complaint with this piece is not its technical execution, which is brilliant and shows that Chung dedicated himself to improving an already great talent, but rather in its plot. Like "Program", watch this one for the art.
Awesome totally recommended for Matrix fans.
The different animation styles, the intense, poetic story lines, and the overall MIND THRILLER this movie entails is superb.
If you're looking for something super trippy to watch and to bend your mind - sober or not - this movie will trip you out with heavy and uplifting story lines, thought provoking themes, and off the walls animation.
A must see for any animated film fan. I'm buying it.... NOW!!
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