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|Genre||Anime & Manga|
|Format||Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Animated|
|Contributor||Ellen Moore, Takako Honda, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Hajime Iijima, Tetsu Inada, Katsumi Chô, Dane A. Davis, Daisuke Egawa, Kôji Morimoto, Shinichirô Watanabe, Isshin Chiba, Julia Fletcher, Akiko Koike, Nobuyuki Kobushi, Debi Derryberry, Peter Chung, Takeshi Koike, Katsuhiro Harasawa, Mahiro Maeda, Andrew R. Jones See more|
|Runtime||1 hour and 29 minutes|
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.
DVD ROM Features
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
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.5 x 0.75 inches; 2.88 Ounces
- Director : Andrew R. Jones, Kôji Morimoto, Mahiro Maeda, Peter Chung, Shinichirô Watanabe
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Animated
- Run time : 1 hour and 29 minutes
- Release date : June 3, 2003
- Actors : Isshin Chiba, Katsumi Chô, Dane A. Davis, Debi Derryberry, Daisuke Egawa
- Subtitles: : English, Spanish, French
- Language : Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Unqualified (DTS ES 6.1)
- Studio : Warner Home Video
- ASIN : B00008LDPU
- Writers : Ellen Moore
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #16,044 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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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.
The first story, Final Flight Of The Osiris, was animated by Square Pictures, who also did Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. This acts as a direct prelude to The Matrix Reloaded where the human crew of the hovercraft Osiris discover that the machine army is drilling directly into the underground city of Zion, so they send their Aeon Flux-wannabe into the Matrix to deliver this news to the humans. Unfortunately, the machines down the ship, and everyone buys it in the end. This had some pretty decent CGI in it, although it seems mostly dated by today's standards. It also leads into the Enter The Matrix video game.
After this is a 2-part story which actually gives a comprehensive history of how the world was eventually taken over by the machines. In The Second Renaissance, Mahiro Madea of Kill Bill fame animated this ellaborate retelling of mankind's downfall from the perspectrive of the Zion computer archives that is represented as a goddess figure called The Instructor. She relays how the human race had created robots to do all their work, but they eventually rebelled. The machines start up their own city, which the humans weirdly enough open up trades with, although this sends the human economy into the sewers. The humans then decide to go to all out war with the machines by blocking out the sun, their main source of power. Of course, the machines eventually win, and begin to harvest the human minds. This origin is not totally compatible with the regular Matrix story as it was stated in the first movie that the entire history was sketchy due to the humans' lack of information on it. This is possibly an idealized version of what was supposed to have happened based on what the future Zionites thought it would be.
Next is Kid's Story where we're introduced to the Kid(yep, he's got no real name!), who was that annoying teenager who kept stalking Neo in Reloaded, and how he freed himself from the Matrix. This was directed by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop. World Record(by Ninja Scroll's Yoshiaki Kawajiri)follows this same premise about an athlete who almost breaks free of the illusion of the Matrix.
Kawajiri also directed the Program segment which is unfortunately the shortest one in the whole movie about a girl training in one of the humans' VR sims which is modeled after feudal Japan, and is nearly taken out by what she is led to believe as a defector to the machines. This part features some very dynamic action, which make you wich that Kawajiri would do another full-length ninja/samurai movie.
After this is Beyond(by Koji Morimoto of Memories)where some kids find a glitch in the Matrix which they think is a haunted house. Next is A Detective's Story where a private eye in the Matrix is hired by Agents to hunt down Trinity. Shinichiro Watanabe takes his knack for genre films and applies it beautifully to this noir piece.
Finally, is Matriculated by Aeon Flux creator Peter Cheung, where some humans working above-ground to capture robots and try to win them over to their side by using surrealistic VR, although they all end up getting killed off by other robots. This is the longest bit in the anthology, and is well executed, but at the same time gets too bogged down with the entire dreamlike sim used on the robot.
The Animatrix represented a major change in the way American animated media was handled, by having it branch out to different media like anime. On its own, it blazes alot of trails, and is worth viewing at least for seeing the eclectic views based on a similar theme. A better example of this would be Robot Carnival which is not currently available in America. Granted, this is a must for anyone who actually dug all three Matrix films, and is available in most of the collected editions of the trilogy.
To those that discount the animation aspect, when you look at the chapters that were 'back in the day' yes it works. The newer chapters are actually pretty advanced when you consider this was released in 2003. Try to enjoy some old school anime culture sometime.
Top reviews from other countries
For someone who is'nt really familiar with anime or the Matrrix universe (I've only seen the first movie once), I found these shorts to be great self-contained stories, with some stunning animation and aesthetics.
The two-parter 'The Second Renaissance' is an evocative and disturbing prequel, of sorts, to the movie trilogy. The opening episode portrays the machines in an almost sympathetic light as they are subject to discrimination and slavery - one shocking scene depicts the brutal gang-murder of a female robot; a jarring and disturbing scene. Part I closes with the machines peacefully seeking to establish their own nation. The second segment of this story depicts the opening of the war with the machine nation, wryly named Zero-One, the 'scorching of the sky' and their radicalisation against humanity. Indeed, even as the machines rise to dominate Earth, they see the creation of the Matrix as a last chance at salvation for mankind; to enter into a symbiotic relationship between man and machine and establish a permanent peace of sorts.
'Program' is a great vignette in the style of the Neo/Morpheus training programme from the first movie. Two human rebels duel as they debate the merits of life in the Matrix and the 'real world'. The choreography and staging of these duels is stunning, combining the balletic martial arts from Crouching Tiger with the more kinetic and surreal physics of the Matrix movies.
'Detective Story' is set within the Matrix itself - the noirish style underlines how mature and flexible a medium anime can be for storytelling. Indeed, this segment includes one of the key characters, Trinity, from the movies.
As a whole, Animatrix is a real testament to the extent to which diverse artistic voices and creative talent can keep a franchise fresh.
The various US, Korean and Japanese talents behind these shorts have interpreted the Wachowski's universe and created stories with unique visual and narrative styles - extending and enhancing the original story-world with new perspectives and aesthetic sensibility.
I cannot imagine George Lucas allowing other filmmakers to interpret and reinvent Star Wars. The Lucasfilm and Star Trek people could learn a little from Animatrix and understand how their tired, homogenised sci-fi vehicles could be reborn, if new artists and talents are encouraged to play in their story-worlds without being beholden to a 'story-bible'.
Indeed, this is a great analogy of big-media versus the indie artist...and allowing fair-use of copyrighted material to create new works and explore a medium...but hey, that's *another* story...
...it'll be interesting to see how the coming series of Star Wars shorts - 'The Clone Wars' - will fare against the amazing creative quality and narrative depth of Animatrix.
Excellent Blu Ray running in at 1 hour 40 minutes
The basic idea of Animatrix are nine short films, each focusing on a different area of the matrix, anything from how the whole story began to day to day occurances where people realise that this world isn't as real as we might think.
The art work is different in each one so there is a vast range if you did not enjoy one of them, all stunning and beautiful in their own way, it even contains cameo appearances of the real actors for Neo and Trinity doing the voice acting! Watching this really inspired me to carry on with graphics and animation work, I highly reccomend! Even if you are not a matrix fan, watch it anyway. You may just change your mind...