Animatrix has brought confusion to the masses. Is this an addition to The Matrix? Or does it supply the missing back-story? Or has it nothing to do with the chronology of the trio of feature movies, and simply exists in its own space?
The answer is ?Yes? to all the above.
I detect the Wachowski brothers, the true gods of The Matrix concept, know they have a huge fish on their hook. Legions of devoted fans will consume anything Matrix, and keep coming back for more. And there's the thorny issue of the restricted rating given to the theatrical releases, which keeps the loyal following of mini-Matrix worshippers having to rely on big brother to get them into the theater or wait for the video release.
Now the creators of this virtual world, along with some additional animators and writers, have provided something for these devotees to do while they're waiting.
Presented in nine segments, Animatrix is an anthology of Matrix short stories. Each takes place within the Matrix, but the accounts run parallel to the theatrical scripts. With the exception of The Second Renaissance Part 1 and 2 (providing an illuminating explanation as to how the Earth got itself into such a mess), the titles exist as their own entities.
The result is a free form display of some tremendous animation styles (each film has a different ?look?) and the ability for writers to ?play around? with the Matrix idea. Segments feature a variety of themes, like an athlete who is so determined to overcome his physical limitations he literally runs himself right out of the Matrix. A psychedelic tale focuses on a woman intent on reprogramming a mechanical sentinel so it will fight to protect humans. Another, done in a pencil sketch style, tells the story of a private eye ordered by a mysterious client to find Trinity (heroine of the surviving humans).
The most playful of the shorts is about a young lady who discovers a haunted house while searching for her cat. But what's really happening inside the Oriental structure is a glitch in the simulation's programming. Gravity is not working as it should, and time seems to slow down. The rundown building has become an amusement for neighborhood children -- until the officials come in to ?reprogram.?
Far more entertaining than the recent The Matrix: Reloaded, it's unfortunate there is so much mature content in this unrated video release. And despite the artistic diversity between featurettes, females are represented throughout as leggy creatures often seen in tiny underwear (or even less, as in the two depicting upper female nudity). Looking like the big busted babes in video games, these sexual stereotypes taint many of the otherwise well constructed stories.
Violence is in no short supply either, with many of the titles portraying machines battling man with bloody results. The ?Renaissance? pair are especially brutal, while Kid's Story shows a young boy who is so convinced he's living a dream, he's willing to jump off a building to prove it. Don't try this at home boys and girls.
For adults looking to further their Matrix philosophies, Animatrix will undoubtedly prove to be entertaining. However, with a lack of any rating information, it would be wise for parents to preview this virtual world prior to letting their teens (or younger) dive into it.