By Mike Derderian
In 1999 a cinematic phenomena presented the sci-fi film freak’s community with a theory arguing that we live in a machine generated virtual world. “Enslaved by our own creations” this directorial apocalyptic hypothesis was accessible in Andy and Larry Wachowski’s Matrix trilogy that swept the film industry by storm with its new special effect technologies.
Who would forget the slow motion bullet scene, the freeze frame fighting sequences, and the CGI (computer generated images) futuristic spectacles of a world that only exists in the human mind! The answer is no one for after evolving into a cult film, “The Matrix Trilogy” to many of its fans was more than a blockbuster based on a script packed with theological references and Greek mythology; it formed the ultimate entertaining escape-from-reality film of the century.
With the massive hype surrounding the trilogy an argument by a group of people came to exist: what is the matrix? A question that I won’t answer for the time being for I’ll leave it for another week’s combo column that is strictly written for “The Matrix trilogy.”
Instead I chose the 102 minuets 2003 The Animatrix to provide you with some key elements on what the Matrix is and will be for it certainly did not end in the 2003 third sequel the Matrix Revolutions.
The Animatrix comes in nine separate short animated films, which is the result of a writing and directorial collaboration between the Wachowski brothers, Peter Chung, Andy Jones, Takeshi Koike, Mahiro Maeda, Yoshiaki Kawajiari, Kouji Morimoto and Shinichero Watanabe.
Watching The Animatrix as a separate production will only come as a disappointment, however, if you look at it as a guiding prequel you’ll learn to enjoy the artistry of the animated dark themed sequences and know how the matrix came into existence.
With a disarrayed synchronicity not to mention a hard to follow plot within each film, man’s futile struggle against the smart and ruthless machines is highly emphasized in most of the parts.
Opening with a virtual sward fight that turns out to be a sensual strip match, between the two short-lived protagonists Thadeus and Jue, The Final Flight of the Osiris, which is directed by Andy Jones, action kicks in.
Unlike the rest of the anime natured scenes of the Animatrix this film was visualized in 3D, an aspect that gave the action scenes a realistic feel and the characters a humanized touch.
Continuing further into the film, if one can stomach depressing gritty themes, which is one of the distinctive elements of an adult anime feature. The following two films entitled Second Renaissance part I and II offers you the whole history of the Matrix narrated by a female voice of an Indian god-like character called the instructor.
The fourth film Detective Story is about a detective called Clarence, who is looking for Trinity (voiced by actual matrix actress Carrie-Ann Moss), in a loosely based traditional detective dialogue despite of the good black and white colored animation.
The best thing in this feature was having the character of Trinity with her trademark leather outfit, dark glasses and hard to forget cool persona with a tough edge.
According to Kouji Morimoto’s Beyond paranormal phenomena such as haunted houses are the result of a programming glitchs in the Matrix. It reminds us of the deja vous moment in the first Matrix movie.
Beyond is one of the good animated short stories included in the film despite of the simple visuals and animation. Watching Yoko and her neighborhood children enjoying the side effects of this error will take one back to one’s own dreams of childhood bliss.
In the sixth animated film Program the viewer is led astray for a while as he finds himself amidst a samurai dual that displayed the capability of Kawajiri’s ability in producing a Japanese feel into the matrix’s more intricate plot.
“Machines are tools, they were made to be used, it is their nature,” with this line, the seventh film Matriculated is more into a moralistic approach towards the co-existence of man and machine.
Chung in his segment depicts a group of young individuals, who through a matrix based program specially designed for machines, convert sentinels to their side.
In a highly colorful animated feature filled with spectacularly designed characters and machines like Alexa, a young woman, who doubts the whole process and the runner (a Special sentinel), Matriculated tries to explains how sometimes even machines require love.
According to Kawajiri’s vision in the eighth Animatrix segment World Record “only the most exceptional of all people become aware of the matrix and know it exists. They of course must have a rare degree of sensitivity, intuition and a questioning nature.”
The symbolism of this film lies in man’s constant struggles in becoming special and achieving what others cannot, as we watch an athlete attempting to break free from the boundaries of the Matrix.
In the final film, Kid’s story, which is entirely based on the first part of the trilogy, both Kenau Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss lend their voice talents to an animated Neo and Trinity bringing in the answers to a Kid’s question about life and reality: If dreaming is reality fictionalized then what is reality? In my opinion this question can only be answered after a well-led life, hopefully, and a good night’s sleep.