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The Animatrix
The Animatrix

Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

As you know, The Animatrix DVD consists of nine (really eight) short animated films set in the universe of the Matrix. The first four (really three) are written by the Wachowski brothers, and so add to our information about the Matrix universe.

1. "Final Flight of the Osiris" (***) by Andy and Larry Wachowski
This was released as a theatrical short subject with the film Dreamcatcher. It could just as well have been a pre-credit opening sequence for The Matrix Reloaded. It is very much in the style of the film and leads directly into the opening events of the movie. The human characters are animated so realistically that just a smidgen of suspension of disbelief is necessary to pretend they are human.

"The Second Renaissance Parts I and II" (**) by Andy and Larry Wachowski
This is a rather pedestrian explanation of the backstory of the Matrix, in which robots are compared in obvious ways to Jews and Blacks. The comparison is not very original or very convincing. To accept the Matrix universe we have to accept that humans, in order to defeat machines, would wipe out sunlight, which would result in the death of all plants, and thus deprive humans of food and oxygen long before the machines felt the pinch.

3. "Kid's Story" (**) by Andy and Larry Wachowski
A high school student commits suicide in hopes of joining Neo on the other side. I oppose censorship in any form, but don't enough of the students kill themselves to escape our boring, dangerous, and cruel schools already, without holding out the hope that if they jump, Neo will be waiting for them. (More than a million US high school students suicide or attempt suicide every year, and with the tax cuts, our schools can only get worse. The people who want tax cuts imagine that the cuts will deprive welfare queens of their Cadillacs, but in fact the cuts always hurt schools worst.)

4. "Program" (**) by Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Two lovers fight in virtual reality, at first for fun, then in earnest. Fairly good anime but nothing special.

5. "World Record" (***) by Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Anime in a much more experimental style than "Program". It might be the origin story of Morpheus, but probably not.

6. "Beyond" (****) by Koji Morimoto
A group of children find a "haunted house" in the Matrix, where the program responsible for enforcing natural law has a few bugs in it. Charming.

7. "A Detective Story" (***) by Shinichiro Watanabe
Interesting primarily for its use of limited color in a black and white universe. Cats don't fetch hats.

8. "Matriculated" (***) by Peter Chung
An interesting, if improbable, idea -- machines are jacked into a Matrix created by humans and allowed to choose sides in the war between human and machine. Some of the effects and colors are truly beautiful.

It is always fun to discuss which works set in a given universe are canonical. Almost everyone agrees that movies set in the Marvel universe are not, nor are comic books set in the Star Wars universe. As for the Matrix, in my opinion not only is The Animatrix canonical, but so is the new Matrix computer game. But then, I think the Star Trek animated series is canonical.

Copyright © 2003 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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