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The Animatrix Gift Set DVD

The Animatrix Gift Set DVD Directors: Takeshi Koike, Shinichirô Watanabe
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Benjamin Wyatt's Review


Maybe you regret taking the red pill.


This computer generated prequel to the Matrix Reloaded, produced entirely in CGI, is the most technically advanced piece in this collection. There are moments when I forgot that I was watching virtual actors. The passion between the two main characters is intense, in a way that I thought computer images would never be able to imitate. An excellent short (not my favorite) but because of its intimate ties to the Matrix Reloaded, both in terms of story and style, seems out of place. It would have served better as the beginning of the second film.

THE SECOND RENAISSANCE PARTS I & II

Simply put, these pieces are the most powerful and provocative in the entire collection, filled with graphic and horrifying images. In a fascinating look at the prehistory of the Matrix films, humanity, not the machines, are the guilty party, enslaving an entire race of sentient life with no mercy. (As Gods, humans created machines in their image, so the slavers become the enslaved.) These shorts actually change the meaning of the overall film- very powerful.

KID'S STORY

A somewhat ho-hum story with some nice visuals and a cool ending that helps flesh out a small part of the second movie (don't want to give any spoilers) this segment is kind of pedestrian otherwise, with the skateboard tricks seeming to be the type of thing that would be cool in a 1980's comedy flick.

PROGRAM

Some interesting visuals help spice up a rather bland storyline in this short. Seems to be a remake of the fight seens between Morpheus and Neo in the first film. The story brings up the difficulty in accepting the bleak reality instead of the less bleak dreamworld, but never goes anywhere with the question.

WORLD RECORD

Perhaps the least visually appealing, with overly stylized runners going slo-mo for most of the short. If jiggly muscles are your thing, this is the short for you. No story substance in this one- very dull to watch. Also, whazzup with the agents?

BEYOND

A very beautiful piece, BEYOND is perhaps at heart the most simple story in the collection, with the focus on the perceptions of a young girl and some children in the face of mysteries they can never understand. Very engrossing.

A DETECTIVE STORY

A cool, stylish direction can not give this story the life it needed to fully flesh out. While it is the only one in the collection that focuses on the life of one of the major players in the film series (Trinity, with the voice done by the original actress, no less) the main character of the short is cardboard. Very disappointing.

MATRICULATED

The most bizarre and surreal of the bunch- this one took two viewings for me to understand its meaning, and still many of the images seem random, or bizarre for weirdness sake. The concept of pulling a machine into a human generated world and manipulating their perceptions is intriguing, but in the end we are left with many random but beautiful images that distract more than anything else.


From Amazon.com

Amazon.com Editorial Review

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

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