DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main

Welcome to The Animatrix, a visionary fusion of CG-animation and Japanese anime from the world's most revered anime directors. Experience the prequel to The Matrix and learn about the last cities of mankind, the war with the machines and humanity's ultimate downfall. Witness the Final Flight of the Osiris, which sets the stage for The Matrix Reloaded movie and Enter the Matrix video game. Grasp a more complete understanding of The Matrix available nowhere else. Expand your mind even further as you unlock a dazzling arsenal of Bonus Materials. It's time to plug in.

Writing Credits:
Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Shinichiro Watanabe

Not Rated.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1
English, Spanish, French

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 6/3/2003

• Audio Commentaries for “Second Renaissance: Part 1”, “Second Renaissance: Part 2”, “Program”, “World Record”
• Scrolls to the Screen: The History and Culture of Anime
• Creators
• Executions
• Enter The Matrix: In The Making

Search Titles:

TV - Mitsubishi CS-32310 32"; Subwoofer - JBL PB12; DVD Player - Toshiba SD-4700; Receiver - Sony STR-DE845; Center - Polk Audio CS175i; Front Channels - Polk Audio; Rear Channels - Polk Audio.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Animatrix (2003)

Reviewed by David Williams (June 10, 2003)

For those who just can’t seem to get their fill of The Matrix, brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski enlisted the help of seven of the most well-known and renowned anime artists from around the world to help tell more of their story … seen in this compilation as The Animatrix. Being huge fans of anime and Japanese pop culture themselves, the Wachowski brothers were admittedly very heavily influenced by the art form when making The Matrix and here, they have reached out to some of the biggest names in the genre to expand the universe they created.

Varying greatly in style, each of these nine stories was crafted under the watchful eye of the brothers, who actually helped write four of the tales themselves. Each story ties directly into the Matrix universe, with a few giving some much-appreciated backstory, while others simply craft a new tale altogether. The stories vary in quality, but there’s not a dirtloaf in the bunch, as the worst we come up with here is a so-so tale.

The nine stories can be selected individually from a main menu, although Warner has included a handy –PLAY ALL- feature for the shorts as well. If you choose to watch them separate from one another, the rather lengthy credits will roll after each feature, while if you watch them back to back to back, they will only appear at the end of all nine features. The following nine shorts on the DVD include:

Final Flight of the Osiris (9:36): This short was created by Andy Jones of Final Fantasy fame and is the only short to be completely generated using CGI. The story deals with the crew of the ill-fated ship the Osiris that was mentioned by Morpheus in Reloaded and it follows them as they discover the thousands of Sentinels drilling towards Zion. The crew races towards a fierce battle the Sentinels, as they attempt save themselves, as well as those in Zion – unaware of what’s happening on the surface until a bit later in the arc.

Second Renaissance: Part 1 (9:16): Here, in one of the most relevant shorts, we “access” the Zion Archives and learn about the backstory behind man’s creation of the machines and the machine revolt that followed. We see that the machines evolved through more and more sophisticated A.I. and eventually started their own nation – 01 – where they could live in harmony with one another. However, after the machines were denied entry into the United Nations, it set into motion the events that would ultimately start the war against the human race.

This piece – as well as the one following it - mix in some rather disturbing new reel footage to help the story along and it ultimately makes its effect much stronger and much more unsettling to the viewer.

Second Renaissance: Part 2 (9:25): In the conclusion to Mahiro Maeda’s addition to The Animatrix, we revisit the archives to see the war between man and the machines and mankind’s eventual defeat. This leads to enslavement, human harvesting, and life in the pods – like we saw in the original Matrix. (Much like the feature before it, the imagery here is absolutely incredible.)

Kid’s Story (9:40): Shinchiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop fame shows up with a short about a skateboarding high school student who feels that his dreams are actually more “real” than real life itself. Via Internet correspondence with Neo, as well as a cell phone call during class, the young man, Michael Pepper, learns about the Matrix and those who are sworn to protect its secrets. The end of the short follows the young man as he searches for a way out of his high school – and the Matrix itself. (Keanu Reeves contributes his voice to the short.)

Program (7:16): In another battle similar to the first short, we see two Samurai warriors duking it out on horseback and then on foot. The duo exhibit some familiar fighting styles and we quickly learn that these Zion soldiers are partaking in one of the many virtual training modules available. The male and female obviously have a past and a relationship that only serves to obscure matters. The story was contributed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Vampire Hunter D).

World Record (8:44): This short, submitted by Takeshi Koike, follows Dan, a world-class athlete who learns about the Matrix through unusual and severely emotional circumstances. While competing in a 100M sprint and setting a new world record, Dan totally decimates his muscles and ligaments and via the brutal pain, experiences the reality of his “alternate reality”, the Matrix. His newfound knowledge doesn’t go unnoticed and it puts him in a dangerous predicament.

Beyond (13:04): Koji Morimoto submits this next short and it deals with a young woman, Yoko, who discovers a little too much about the Matrix while looking for her missing cat. While looking for her pet around town, she discovers an abandoned building where the physical laws of the “real” world seemingly don’t apply. However, you know what happens to people who learn too much …

A Detective Story (9:52): Here we find Shinichiro Watanabe’s contribution to film noir, as we get a black-and-white piece with occasional artistic flashes of color. (Think “30 Days of Night”.) In this short, we meet a bummed out detective named Ash who has been hired to track down a computer hacker named Trinity. We learn that other detectives haven’t been so lucky in their hunt to capture Trinity, although Ash, through doggedness and sheer determination, tracks her down – which causes problems for them both. (Carrie Ann Moss contributes her voice to the short.)

Matriculated (16:16): Submitted by Peter Chung of Aeon Flux fame, we meet a group of rebels from the human resistance who are conditioning and converting robots to re-identify with the human race and accept humans rather than simply trying to stamp them out and wipe them off the face of the earth.

The Animatrix is a wonderful companion to the world of The Matrix and fans more than likely already have this one in their players at home. The shorts give us some nice backstory to the trilogy of films and do a really great job of expanding the Matrix universe. Highly recommended to hardcore and casual fans alike.

The DVD Grades: Picture A / Audio A / Bonus A-

Warner presents The Animatrix in a beautifully rendered 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that presents the material at hand with superior sharpness and detail. The quality of each and every one of these shorts was quite excellent and ultimately, very pleasing.

Even with the varying animation styles, each film boasted first-rate detail and sharpness throughout. The various colors and hues looked spectacular on Warner’s transfer, without any smearing or oversaturation noted. Each director used their own specific palette and style to tell their story and whether it was in the dark confines of the Osiris or the brilliant palettes used by the Zion Archives, everything was properly balanced, contrasted, and rendered. Black levels were very deep and full, which allowed for superb shadow detail and delineation and a very film-like appearance.

Flaws with Warner’s transfer were miniscule, as the problems I noticed were relegated to some slight edge enhancement, as well as some haloing/shimmer on some of the more highly contrasted areas. There was some slight ringing in certain areas, but this was as much a by-product of the animation as it was a problem with Warner’s transfer.

The Animatrix shows Warner at the top of their game and was ultimately, a very enjoyable viewing experience. This is a fine, fine effort from the studio.

As good as The Animatrix looks, it sounds just as grand. All of the shorts presented were given a spectacular Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer that actively engaged each and every speaker in your home theater setup. The track was an incredibly active one that rarely did anything less than completely immerse the viewer into the world of The Animatrix.

Effects were plentiful and vigorous and came from every direction within the quite expansive soundstage. From fights to gunshots to explosions, everything sounded accurate and natural and packed quite a punch. The LFE was active throughout all of the featured episodes and was very deep, bombastic, and impressive from beginning to end, as the bass displayed in The Animatrix was the kind that can rearrange the pictures on the wall and the furniture in the living room given enough time. The shorts also included a very rich score from Don Davis, the same composer who worked on The Matrix, and Warner made sure that everything sounded as rich and full as possible. Dialogue sounded great and wasn’t limited to the front soundstage and it was distinct and natural throughout each of the shorts.

Warner provides an alternate track in Japanese, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish. Closed Captions for The Animatrix are available in English only.

Warner has done a really great job of providing supplements for The Animatrix and for four of the features, we get audio commentaries from the principals under the heading of Voices. The commentaries are presented in Japanese - with English subtitles - and are included for “Second Renaissance: Part 1”, “Second Renaissance: Part 2”, “Program”, and “World Record”. The commentaries were consistently interesting and engaging and in them, we lean all kinds of information about the shorts; their conception and interpretations, how the scripts were developed, the artistic styles and influences, and so on. There are some moments of simple scene narration, but these were few and far between and what we’re left with were some really interesting and engaging discussions on these very interesting stories.

Following is Scrolls to the Screen: The History and Culture of Anime (22:21) and as the name implies, this feature deals specifically with the history anime and its influences throughout American cinema – and more specifically, The Matrix. Via interviews with many of those involved in The Animatrix, we get a really nice history lesson on the art form, its ancient origins, the different – yet recognizable - manifestations of style, and the run away success it has seen the late 20th and early 21st century across the globe. For those only slightly educated in anime like myself, this was a really great addition to the DVD.

Creators is nothing more than a page of static text briefly detailing the careers of those involved with directing the aforementioned features. It’s nothing more than a simple “cast and crew” section for the directors/producers involved.

Next up is Executions (55:13) and here, we get a quick making-of for each of the nine segments and they’re broken down into seven chapters. The chapters may be viewed individually, or via Warner’s –PLAY ALL- feature that has been included. Each of the features cover something a bit different, as some of the features are a pure “making of” type feature, while others might also delve into certain influences and things of that sort. Everyone involved speaks of their approach to their specific feature (or features) and they also talk about how they were approached by the Wachowski’s about the Animatrix project and in certain instances, we learn a little bit about the director, as well as their work before signing on to this particular project. We get to see footage from the short itself, as well as interview footage with the principals and footage from behind-the-scenes while making the feature and ultimately, all of these elements came together to make Executions an incredibly interesting feature.

Last up is Enter The Matrix: In The Making (2:51) and here, we get a nice little preview of the “Enter The Matrix” videogame that’s now available in stores. It’s a quick-and-dirty look at the game that intertwines footage from the game with clips from The Matrix Reloaded and interviews with principals involved with the game in order to give you an idea of what to expect. Nothing all the great, but nothing terrible either.

There are also quite a few DVD-ROM related supplements on this disc, although the vast majority of them are accessed via a Warner-hosted website.

For fans of anime or of The Matrix trilogy, The Animatrix is a no-brainer and should be picked up as soon as possible. Warner has decked-out the DVD with exceptional audio and video transfers and some really nice extras to boot. The disc is priced to move and would be a nice addition to any fans collection.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2542 Stars Number of Votes: 59
2 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.