The Animatrix

Voices of:  Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kevin Michael Richardson
Directed by: Andy Jones (Final Flight of the Osiris), Mahiro Maeda (?The Second Renaissance Parts I & II?), Shinichiro Watanabe (Kids Story and A Detective Story), Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Program), Takeshi Koike (World Record), Koji Morimoto (Beyond), Peter Chung (Matriculated)
Written by:  Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski, Peter Chung, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Shinichir Watanabe.
Warner Bros DVD 2nd June 2003

Run Time: 101 minutes
Edition Details: Region 2 encoding (Europe, Middle East & Japan only), PAL
Format: Animated, Widescreen, Dubbed, PAL

DVD Features: Audio Commentaries, trailer for the Enter the Matrix game, crew list.

2.35:1 (anamorphic)
Dolby Digital 5.1
Audio Tracks:
Multiple languages
Multiple languages
English and German
Animated menus, with music
Special Features Subtitles:
All of the special features come with subtitles.


The Animatrix consists of nine short movies of about ten minutes each more or less, all of which that deals with the universe created in the two Matrix movies. Different directors with different styles and approaches animate these short movies. Four of the nine movies have been written by the brothers Wachowski themselves and the rest of the movies are done with their "creative input."

None of these movies is essential to follow what is going on in the current series of movies. In fact, the DVD kicks off with Final Flight of the Osiris - which could serve as a rather redundant introduction to the Matrix Reloaded. In it, a ship crew (just what the heck are those things they fly in called in any case?) discovers robots digging into the Earth to get to Zion, the human resistance's underground headquarters. A race is then on for the crew to warn the human settlement.

Lost yet? If you haven't seen any of the Matrix movies, then checking out Animatrix is a rather pointless exercise since you'd have no idea what the heck is going on. However, if you haven't seen any of them, then what are you doing browsing through this site then?

This particular short movie is directed in the same photorealistic computer-generated style as the Final Fantasy movie, which flopped at the box office a few years back. Like I say, it is rather superfluous and none of the movies on this DVD is essential to understanding the overall story arch of the movies.

Does that mean Animatrix is not worth seeing? Hardly! For fans of the movies and adult animation, checking out Animatrix will be a no-brainer!

Although some of the short movies are animated in the traditional anime style, haters of this genre would still want to check it out since most of the segments do not strictly conform to the clichés of anime. In fact, the various styles are quite varied ? not only in the graphic style employed, but also in their story telling. While some of the movies might remind you of Ghost in the Shell, others reminded me of a hyper-stylised Batman animated style.

All of the short movies are technically brilliant, but interest does flag from movie to movie. My personal favourites are Beyond and A Detective's Story (fans of Cowboy Bebop will dig this one too). To be honest I was a bit weary of Animatrix - recently I had watched Robot Carnival, a 1980s anime compilation of short movies, which I sincerely hated. Dreading something similar, Animatrix came off quite well.

THE DISC: This is why we have DVDs! The sound, image, animated menus - everything is perfect! Some of the movies have a directory's commentary, most of which unfortunately consisting of the dull ?now we are looking at robots rebelling? variety.

However, there's a sneak peak at the upcoming Matrix game as well as my favourite: a 20 minutes or so short featurette that will serve as a short introduction to anime for the neophyte. Even though I have recently OD'ed on the genre - having watched anything from Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbour Totoro to Spriggan and X ? I still found some interesting nuggets of info in it.

(I mention this, even though I feel as one Japanese guy in the feature remarked that one feels vaguely ashamed of checking out anime - the geekiness factor is just so huge! After all, for this featurette they managed to drag out Harry Knowles of the Ain't It Cool? web site ? the real life version of the comic book storeowner in The Simpsons!)

Oh, before I forget: unless you're fluent in Japanese enable the English subtitles function before running this featurette because they don't bother translating what some of the Japanese directors had to say.

WORTH IT? Heck, yes!




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