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animatrix review

Yesterday I commented that I had seen Animatrix. I didn't want to comment then to let it settle a bit in my head, but here go my impressions now...

Animatrix is quite simply one of the best animated features I've seen in years. It crosses through several genres of animation (Anime, Ultra-realistic, etc.) and the storylines are generally excellent. This collection of short stories proves conclusively, if there was any doubt, the strong influence that Anime in particular has had on The Matrix series, as I was mentioning a couple of days ago.

Here's a breakdown of all the nine Animatrix episodes:

  • The last flight of Osiris. I suffered horribly when watching Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within: it was a movie that pushed the limits of realistic animation but the plot was so hopelessly crappy that it ruined everything. Well, Final Flight... fixes all that. Not only the realistic animation is way better than Final Fantasy, the story is excellent and it gives us a view of the moment when the 'rebels' find out about the machines targeting Zion.
  • The Second Renassaince, Parts I and II. Great animation and background information on 'the fall' of humans, and the rise of the machines. Of course, in light of the new information we got from Reloaded, all of this, which comes from the Zion archives, is now suspect. Interesting nevertheless. :)
  • Program: Okay story (if a bit too predictable), classic Anime-style.
  • A Detective Story. Better style in animation than story. The Humprey Bogart-style of the detective, and the mix of a 'Raymond Chandler'-atmosphere with 'The Third Man' (although no Orson Welles here) make this story special in visual terms, but not much more.
  • Beyond. Great story, and great, pure anime. An 'anomalous' sector in the Matrix that further develops some of the concepts in the movie (e.g., Ghosts are programs run amok, etc).
  • Matriculated. Animation reminiscent of MTV's 'The Maxx', pretty good but feels just a little bit off-key for the context for some reason. Good story though, showing a side of the war between humans and machines that I hadn't thought about at all, humans "convincing" machines to help them. A couple of minutes of Reloaded-style philosophical discourse that was interesting.
  • World Record. Similar to Matriculated in terms of animation (the style is even more similar to 'The Maxx'), and the story is pretty much the same concept as Kid's Story (see below), so just ok.
  • Kid's story. One of the best of the collection in terms of story if only because it provides background into Reloaded (as Matt noted in this comment to my previous entry on Animatrix). What's even better is that the connection is created by just two lines of dialogue: the kid saying "Neo... I knew you'd save me" to which Neo replies "I didn't save you Kid. You saved yourself." The fact that this Kid has a background story like this, that he appears in Reloaded, and that he has "self-substantiated" (just like the Runner in World Record does, except that no one is there to save him) would imply that he has a bigger role to play in Revolutions.
In all, Animatrix could easily stand as a movie on its own. Most of it has the "rush" feel of the original Matrix and the last twenty minutes of Reloaded, and shows the depth as well as the attention to detail put in the creation of the Matrix story (another example is how well done the hacking scenes are done), which is an encouraging sign for Revolutions.

Posted by diego on May 29 2003 at 2:24 PM

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