Now we take a look at the next 3 entries of the series. In addition to Final Flight of the Osiris being released in theaters, 4 of these shorts made their debut on the official website for the franchise. The remaining 4 debuted on the DVD release in 2003.
Director: Shinichiro Watanabe
Written by: Andy & Lana Wachowski, Shinichiro Watanabe
Starring: Clayton Watson, Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kevin Michael-Richardson
Remember that kinda annoying kid in the sequels? Well this is his story. And to be honest, he's much more likeable here and this backstory definitely makes you understand and respect him a little bit more in the films. This is also the only one of these that includes Neo. Its about an outsider kid searching for the Matrix very much as Neo was looking for it in the first film. It also successfully mimics and recreates notable angles and camera techniques familiar with the first film in the series which makes it feel pretty "at home". The film winds up in a big chase and escape thwarted at every turn.
There is a concept brought into light here as Kid manages to awake himself from the Matrix all by himself with no outside help. This is something that had never been done. Its called "self-substantiating". However, the kid seems to give Neo all the credit for it as carries over to later in The Matrix: Reloaded. There's a little more to self-substantiating that I'll get to after we go over World Record at the end of this piece. This is a really fun one that puts a character you may have been down on in a more positive light. It also kind of plays as a teen version of getting out of the Matrix akin to Neo's adult rendition.
Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Written by: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Starring: Hedy Burress, Phil LaMarr, John DiMaggio
Program is an easy favorite of mine. This is a one off taking place sometime amidst the first two films. It follows a girl named Cis in her favorite simulation. She is confronted with a team member and possible lover to spar in the simulation. He reveals to her that he is returning to the Matrix and wants her to come with him. All communications that could overhear this have been disconnected so its just them. What follows is beautiful little battle between the two combining their sword fighting with a debate over whether or not the Matrix is a more peaceful and correct way of life.
I like this one a lot because it kind of feels like a Twilight Zone story within The Matrix world. Its a terrific concept and shows the almost endless possibilities this franchise unlocks within its mission statement. This one in particular is the perfect display of what The Matrix excels at; high concept action and philosophical debate/discussion. If you can't enjoy this one, I don't know what to tell ya.
Director: Takeshi Koike
Written by: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Starring: Victor Williams, John Wesley, Alex Fernandez, Allison Smith, Tara Strong, Kevin Michael-Richardson
I really dig the style with which this story is told. It's incredibly cinematic. As the character of Dan Davis runs his final race, we are told how he got there with flashbacks between each second. When I originally viewed The Animatrix, I wasn't too high on this one, but I need to take that back. This one is very good. It gives us a look at people who can unknowingly discover the Matrix through different abilities. Plus its built upon a strong characterization and a person you can really get behind.
This again brings up the concept of someone self-substantiating. However, the Matrix is quick to keep him in place unlike others. The prophecy for which the first film builds is based on a man who self-substantiated and was able to create the city of Zion and free others. Later this is discovered to be a ruse, but these two hint that it may not or that it might be insanely difficult to do what the legendary person of the prophecy did without any help from the outside. Its an interesting concept and something that could be a great topic of discussion for fans of the franchise.
The thing I like about World Record is that it plays out very much like a short from one of my all time favorite animated series, Aeon Flux. Its a story of incredible heroics and triumphs against all odds. The aesthetic and vibe is very "weird" feeling. In the end when all seems its brightest, a swift kick in the balls of tragedy befalls our hero. Something that you could feel a crowd of viewers collectively give a sour "awwww" when it reaches its conclusion. And then in some light, there's a little dark humor to the whole concept.