Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Matrix Retrospectived: The Animatrix(2003)- PART 1

Previously, we covered Dark Fury for the Riddick series.  This is the project that inspired that.  In anticipation for The Matrix sequels in 2003, the creators went back to the well where they received their inspiration.  The Wachowski's produced a series of 9 tie-ins and one-offs revolving around the world created in the first film and setting up the second film.  The stories all would take on different styles of Anime with many different contributors.  I'm very much a person who really enjoys these stories and considers them very much a part of this franchise.  If you're purchasing a set of the 3 movies and this isn't included; you're doing it wrong!  In the next 3 pieces, we'll be going over each of these shorts.

Final Flight Of The Osiris
Director: Andy Jones
Written by: Andy & Lana Wachowski
Starring: Kevin Michael Richardson, Pamela Adlon, Tom Kenny, Tara Strong
Rated: PG-13

This one actually played in theaters in front of Dreamcatcher.  When I first saw this one, I could have given less a crap about the story or how good it may have been.  I was totally entranced by the visuals.  At the time, this animation was above and beyond anything I had seen when it came to realism.  Back in 2003, these people were clearly animated, but damn near looked like a real person in some shots.  Plus the sets and scenery looked right out the film and probably was the same animation being used in the live action features.  Today, its both not as great as it once was and still pretty damn impressive at the same time.

The kicker now is, the story is actually really damn good.  In this short amount of time we're able to make acquaintance with some characters and really give a crap when really high stakes are presented.  Its a race against the clock story with nothing but a dead end in sight for our characters.  The chase and the intensity are really brought full scale, leading only to bittersweet success as we lose everyone in the end. 

The cool thing about Final Flight Of The Osiris is that its a lead in and part of The Matrix: Reloaded.  You won't be lost if you haven't seen it, but you get some wonderful backstory if you have.  Actually its a direct lead in to the video game Enter The Matrix if we're being technical, but all things and actions lead into The Matrix: Reloaded.  But, on its own its a truly terrific achievement in graphics and story.

The Second Renaissance PART I
Director: Mahiro Maeda
Written by: Mahiro Maeda (based on a piece written by the Wachowskis)
Starring: Julia Fletcher, Jill Talley

This one documents the history of how things came to be in the form a of a learning program in a computer.  We learn of the advancement in technologies bringing a laziness to the populace of the world.  Second Renaissance brings some vile and very disturbing imagery to the screen, making at times for an uncomfortable watch.  But that's what I like about it.  It gives me these feelings and really gets inside the head of the viewer, having them think about what is actually happening before them.

One of the main triumphs of this short is that it brings forward a sympathy and somewhat understanding to the villain of the entire Matrix franchise; the machines and computers.  There's a scene that has always stuck with me in this and its the street level beating of a woman cyborg that is both cruel, brutal and the imagery used is absolutely creepy.  Second Renaissance Part 1 is very effective.

There's a real sense of sadness brought to the surface in this one.  When the robots are exiled and then come before the UN with the best of hopes, you feel really bad with the crummy attitude and demeaning manner with which they are handled.  The humanity seems to be just asking for an uprising.  There are many historical and literary instances forming, telling and being flat out referenced in the story to form its own.  If anything tells you these animated shorts aren't for the kiddies and this is an R-rated franchise, its this one!

The Second Renaissance PART II
Director: Mahiro Maeda
Written by: Mahiro Maeda (based on a piece written by the Wachowskis)
Starring: Julia Fletcher, Jill Talley, Dwight Schultz

Part II of the origin story displays just how ruthless and "inhuman" the robots would be upon retaliation for their treatment and exile.  Man pretty much created its own demise.  The machines even gain a much greater advantage when distancing their makeup away from modeling it off of humanity.  This one shows us how the solar resources were removed from Earth and the discovery that humans could provide power.

The gloomy end finds us with more disturbing imagery from both sides.  Showing humans taking out robots execution style and robots testing on corpses.  This short leads us into the creation of the first beta form of the Matrix.  In a UN agreement, humanity pretty much unknowingly agrees to become energy for the machines.  Its a grisly end, and these two parts have provided some of the most "doom and gloom" animated stories I've ever seen (Disclaimer: I'm not an Anime fan or follower, so I'm sure you can point out stuff that is "better" and "darker" than this, i just don't know them).  There's no good feeling left in your stomach after seeing this.  It truly feels like that history lesson told to not repeat the sins of the past.

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