impressive anime-style animation
Running Time: 102 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
Released officially as an accompaniment to this years brace of sequels to The Matrix (and not just a cynical attempt at squeezing a wee bit more money out of the public, honest!), The Animatrix could well be something youll pass by on the shelves of your local DVD store. After all, despite featuring a bit of voice-over work from saga regulars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss, its not exactly the most high profile release of 2003.
But, if youre a Matrix enthusiast AND a bit of a fan of Japanese animation in which case your already part of a pretty select group then this is definitely a disc thats worth a butchers.
Rather than subjecting us to another feature-length dive into virtual reality tedium, The Animatrix is divided up into nine separate stories, each told in a slightly different way and each coming in at just over 10 minutes long. Some are better than others, but all offer some sort of insight into life either within the matrix or outside in what, for the purposes of these films, is the real world.
The Second Renaissance, for example, plays like an historical documentary taking us through the robot revolt and subsequent war between man and machine. Program, meanwhile, touches on the longing of freed individuals to return to the bliss ignorance of the matrix. And Kids Story is about agents chasing a bloke on a skateboard.
The first segment, Final Flight of the Osiris, was first seen by the elite few of us who went to see the abysmal Dreamcatcher in theatres earlier this year. Featuring a fight-come-strip-show followed by a hi-tech battle with sentinels, it was easily the best thing about that particular trip to the cinema. Its not, however, the best thing about this disc for my money that distinction is reserved for Beyond, the tale of a young girl who inadvertently discovers a rupture in the matrix program whilst searching for her lost moggy.
The anime-style animation is pretty impressive right across the board, but the quality of the story-telling fluctuates and in some places the point is unclear. Its also aimed at an extremely narrow market, and those of you who arent bang up to speed with what the movies are all about might as well forget even trying to watch this one. But, if you reckon youre part of that small target audience, by all means give it a whirl youre unlikely to be disappointed.
It's Got: A bush baby in a jar. At least I think its a bush baby. It could be a very small monkey.
It Needs: A bit more consistency with the quality of the stories.
DVD Extras Audio commentary from the directors (in Japanese with subtitles), Scrolls to Screen documentary about the history of anime, info on the creators, an individual Making Of featurette for each of the nine segments, a handful of DVD-Rom goodies, and a shameless plug for the Enter the Matrix video game. The nine short films included are: Final Flight of the Osiris, The Second Renaissance Parts I and II, Kids Story, Program, World Record, Beyond, A Detective Story, and Matriculated. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10
Not bad, but really just for die-hard Matrix fans.