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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

May 20, 2003
The Matrix phenomenon seems to have died down a bit given the disappointing second film, but it still possesses a certain mystique that, for many, is hard to ignore. Released in 1999, The Matrix wasn't the most original concept to grace Hollywood, but it was a pleasant surprise. Borrowing heavily from Science-fiction literature and film and from general philosophical ideologies, The Matrix mingled the absurd with spectacular special effects and some very poignant ideas about existence.

The Animatrix is an extension of the universe the Wachowski brothers created. It is a collection of 8 animated shorts by, as I understand it, some of the more popular anime writers and directors of the present day (for the most part).

The DVD opens with "Final Flight of the Osiris," a computer-animated short that directly ties in with The Matrix: Reloaded . Created by Square USA, Inc., the same group behind the breathtaking and flawed Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within , shows the ill-fated Osiris's, well, final flight, taking place in what would be the present-day within The Matrix chronology. The computer-generated images are again spectacular, and all pieces on this DVD, this is by far the cleanest and most impressive.

"The Second Renaissance Part I" and "The Second Renaissance Part II" are presented as historical pieces. They both work to fill the viewer in on the last days of mankind and Earth, and why exactly the world is in such a dire state within the present-day films in The Matrix timelines. The rise of the machines over the human race is decidedly trite, but for those wanting to gain a more complete view of The Matrix mythology, this is a nice (and the only, if I'm not mistaken) glimpse at the Matrix's past.

"Kid's Story" is another tie-in with the second Matrix film. For those of you that actually saw The Matrix: Reloaded , and noticed the annoying chap that gleefully followed Neo around in Zion and wondered why exactly this kid is of any importance, this short does nothing to explain the above. It does, however, show the origin of the kid. "Kid's Story" is quite a departure from your ordinary anime style, and uses skewed, rough lines, blurred colors, and a general feel of a dream reality (akin to Richard Linklater's Waking Life).

"Program" is a fairly violent story set in feudal Japan, or some time when Samurai's rode around on horses and killed each other. This is more a filler piece on the DVD, but it does offer some insight into the workings of Zion resistance and their attempts to overcome the machines. It's also written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, the man behind Vampirehunter D: Bloodlust, and Ninja Scroll.

Kawajiri also wrote "World Record," another glimpse of The Matrix mythology, about a world-class sprinter that manages to remove himself from The Matrix through will alone. Of all the pieces, this was perhaps the most interesting in terms of the parallel between virtual reality and the real world.

The next piece, "Beyond," is a whimsical piece about some children and a woman searching for her cat that discovers a glitch in the Matrix. They're able to defy the laws of physics and romp about in an abandoned house, all the while gaining some unwanted attention. Again, this is merely another view into the workings of The Matrix universe, but this one was a lot of fun overall (and if anyone can tell me how old the woman with the missing cat is, I'll buy them a cookie. Damn ambiguous anime women).

"A Detective Story" is a noir piece, and is an interesting stand-alone story about a private eye searching for the elusive Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). It's animated in black and white to add to the tone, and was a pleasant surprise hidden within stories about robots and sentient computers.

The final short is "Matriculated," brought to you by the strange Peter Chung, creator of Aeon Flux . I recall watching Aeon Flux back in grade school on MTV's Liquid Television, anxiously waiting any new episode. In retrospect, the plotline was a bit strange and too erotic for me to pick up on. Chung recreates both in this piece, with his faux-anime animation style to boot, showing a group of humans that capture robots and then gain their trust through virtual simulations in an isolated virtual reality.

The DVD also contains making of documentaries, an exploration of anime, and director commentaries on three of the films.

Overall, The Animatrix proved to be enjoyable. It's always interesting to take a story idea from its main medium and expand it to other outlets, and the differing animation styles and story ideas explored definitely flesh out The Matrix mythos far beyond what we see on the big screen. I can safely recommend this for fans of anime and/or the Matrix, but I doubt it has little to offer those that tend to stay away from cartoons and sci-fi.

SEE ALSO: www.intothematrix.com
SEE ALSO: www.thematrix.com

--
David Spain
Based in Chicago, Illinois, David Spain is a contributing writer for LAS magazine.

See other articles by David Spain.

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