The Animatrix

The '90's brought a lot of great films to the world, one of which was the mind-bending sci-fi thriller that was The Matrix. The film became an instant hit with both sci-fi and action fans all over, leading it to become one of the most referenced films in pop-culture. Even if you don't know who Neo or Morpheus are, you're bound to recognize the "slo-mo" action sequences that the film's become so well-known for. Because of the hit status of the film, two sequels and this film - a collection of shorts based on the Matrix mythos - were released to give fans more of what they wanted. However, these films are considered to be nowhere near as good as the original, to the point where many even reject their existence because of how 'awful' they are. I'm not one to subject myself to awful movies, so I've been quite hesitant about watching any Matrix sequels. However, this film looked slightly appealing to me - as I'm a fan of short film collections - so I thought I'd go ahead and give it a try.

THE FINAL FLIGHT OF THE OSIRIS - A pretty bad way to start the movie. This film follows two characters, Thadeus and Jue, as they prepare for what may be their final fight against the machines. While the short film really looks nice, the characters and story behind them are completely paper-thin. The dialogue's atrocious too, with awful one-liners and idiotic redundancy ("Those...are the machines"). The CGI looks pretty nice, but that's about all that's good about the short film.

THE SECOND RENAISSANCE: PARTS I AND II - Way better than the first short, but that's not exactly saying much. This two-parter revolves around the world before the Matrix, and the years that led up to the rebellion of the Machines and the fall of man. It borrows heavily form works like I, Robot, but it's certainly entertaining. The animation looks nice and the story's decent enough, though it sort of felt like reading(or watching) an adolescent boy's Matrix fanfiction. Still, it did have some emotionally-charged scenes...

KID'S STORY - Probably one of the better shorts of the film, this short revolves around a teenage boy who's obsessed with the Matrix series. Doodling names and characters in class, staying up and writing Matrix-related information on the computer, the kid's completely obsessed with "leaving this world behind". One day, however, the kid's dreams may come true, as the kid apparently receives a message from Neo himself. The theme of reality plays a big role in this short, as it does in the original Matrix, and I liked how the film didn't rely so heavily on the Matrix mythos in order to create its story. Kinda cheesy in some spots, but pretty good overall.

PROGRAM - Just when things were looking up, they come down again with this short. though the animation is nice, the short suffers from cheesy dialogue and, frankly, extremely boring characters. Why should I even care about this woman, or why she loves this samurai simulation? Boring, overblown, and just plain stupid.

WORLD RECORD - This short was interesting, though it kinda suffered from many of the common problems the other shorts had. It's pretty original, as it deals with an Olympic runner who, very briefly, literally runs himself out of the Matrix and into the "real world". The characters are pretty cool, and the visual style is really interesting, but the short seems to run out of steam before it ends. That, and it does get pretty corny nwar the end as well, but I digress. It's simply OK.

BEYOND - Just as I was losing hope, this short really kicked some life into this collection. It's insanely beautiful to look at, the characters are cute and charming, and the pacing flows really nicely. Unlike the other shorts, which slightly or directly reference the Matrix in some way, this short only mildly references the series, and it's only a slight reference at that. It's kind of ironic that the short with the least to do with the series would actually be one of the collection's best.

A DETECTIVE STORY - This was my personal favorite of all of the shorts in this collection. An interesting leading character, great visuals, and an enjoyable noir setting bring a crisp, new, and entertaining look into the Matrix series. I may be partially biased, because I love noir, but the short's just so brilliant that I couldn't help but love it. Also, I liked how the addition of the Matrix mythos wasn't forced, like in the other shorts, but instead felt very natural. A great piece of animated filmmaking.

MATRICULATED - Way too cyberpunk for my tastes and the animation looked worse than what's shown on Saturday morning kid shows. As soon as the major heroine started stripping and giving off cheesy one-liners, I just had to stop watching. It was nearly unbearable.

Though The Animatrix has a few good shorts, the rest are either "just OK" or awful. The visuals in virtually all of these shorts look great, though, and one should definitely view Beyond and A Detective Story if they can get a chance. Other than that, though, this collection is only above-average. It should appeal to major Matrix fans, but the rest of the world can give it a pass.





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