ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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The Animatrix (2003)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Various

Starring:
Keanu Reeves/Neo
Carrie Ann Moss/Trinity
Mindy Clark/Alexa
PLOT-CRUNCH
Discover more about The Matrix universe and its back-story through these 9 psychedelic, anime shorts. Put on your leather coat and your kool shades...whoa!!!
THE LOWDOWN
When I first heard about “The Animatrix”, I thought it would be some cheap product released solely to make more cha-ching off The Matrix Reloaded’s hyped up theatrical release. I should also mention that I loathe Disney cartoons like the plague and came into this sucka with some fears that I would be put through a childish ringer...you know, “Matrix for Kiddies” or something of the sort. Well, stab me sideways with garden sheers because this collection wound up doing all kinds of one-handed cart wheels on my head. Here’s the dealio.

Final Flight of the Osiris (written by the Wachowski Brothers): Andy Jones, one of the creators of Final Fantasy (the movie) applied the same type of "true to life" digital animation here. From a narrative standpoint, this tale intertwined with The Matrix Reloaded and the recent Atari made video game. A ship picks up on the impending large scale machine attack on Zion (last human town on earth) and one of the crew must enter The Matrix to send out a warning. My balls were in a vice throughout this watch due to the awesome and sexy opening fight sequence (great digital butt shot), the gravity defying stunts and the bleaker than my heart ending. Sure, having seen both Matrix movies there was nothing too unique about this opening act, but it was still a good wham bam thank you ma'am. Grade: B

The Second Renaissance Part 1 and Part 2 (written by the Wachowski Brothers): Animator Mahiro Maeda put out my two favorite adventures as we are shown the rise of the machines through Zion’s history archives, as well as the eventual war and the imminent defeat of the human race. We then bare witness to the creation of The Matrix and humanity's cyber enslavement. Communicated in a somewhat crude (yet effective) way of drawing, as well as a poignant narration, these two stories had the most impact on me where the excessive violence, the arresting images and the unsettling factor hit me hard. I did smell whiffs of "The Terminator" future scenes at times, but overall these two sucker punchers hit hard and stood out big time. Grade: A+

Kid's Story (written by the Wachowski Brothers): Shinchiro Watanabe home-runned this ride my way which connected to a light subplot in Matrix Reloaded and sported a “Neo” voice cameo (we never see the “One”). A kid is encouraged by Neo to free his Melon, Agents pick up on his “awakening” and hunt his bootie down in his school like Rosie O'Donnell chasing hair pie. An enthralling Agents vs. kid on skateboard chase ensues. This tale moved fast and also showcased its fair share of striking imagery (loved the final jump) that stirred something in me (no, it wasn’t indigestion). Bang on! B+

Program: Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Ninja Scroll) gave us this hypnotizing look at a chickadee doing the dew in a “Samurai” fighting program with her partner. Although sporting a very simple story, there were enough jaw-dropping images (especially when it came to the Japanese village setting) and exciting martial arts fighting jamborees to keep me in the game. The last sour note also hit the spot. B

World Record: Takeshi Koike communicated the tale of a runner obsessed in keeping his world running record. Through his efforts, he eventually breaks out of The Matrix and the shite hits the shite. What I dug about this segment was A) the very odd drawing style which gave the piece quite an abstract and unsettling feel and B) The strong statement it made regarding the strength of the human spirit. Although I expected more from the ending, this bit still had me by the collar and gave me a couple of well put slaps. What was up with those bursting muscles popping like balloons? Ouch! B+

Beyond: Koji Morimoto animated this one. Some punky chick looking for her cat winds up in a “defective” part of The Matrix where the laws of physics and common sense don’t apply. Although I dug the premise and some of the execution, I got annoyed real fast with the damn cat being the trigger for the lead gal’s moves. Not since Ripley in "Alien" have I seen a chick so damn obsessed with finding her freaking pussy. Let it go! On a deeper stance, I knew what the piece was saying with its finale, but it didn’t really move me. Something more brutal would have been appreciated by this dick-wad. C+

Detective Story: Shinichiro Watanabe comes back for seconds with this 50’s like noir piece that whooped ass gangbusters on a visual level, made me smile due to its inclusion of “Arrow Fav” Trinity (Moss) but that let me down in what it had to say...which wasn’t much. I guess the deliciously dark and moody animation had me expecting a mucho gripping narrative, but all I got was typical “Gumshoe” fare instead. A let down, but a well made letdown. B-

Matriculated: This LSD-like feast (by Peter Chung) of a machine being inserted into human dreams didn’t stir me much emotionally but the trippy visuals made sure to keep me in the ring. Hit the bongos for this one and get ready to be blown to Kingdom Matrix. Or don’t hit the bongos and enjoy the trip for what it is...a trip. It’s up to you. B

Now, jack in and “free your mind”.
GORE
When I’m feeling blue all I have to do, is take a look at crushed heads, tentacle stabs, ripped limbs, bursting muscles, throat stabs and blood and then I’m not so blue.
ACTING
There are waaaaaaay too many “voice actors” in here for me to mention everybody, but I will say that everybody did a grade A job and not once did I feel like their deliveries were off or phony-baloney. Of the actors I know that were present, expect a little bit of Keanu Reeves (Neo), a heftier serving of Carrie Ann Moss (Trinity) and a full Mindy Clark (Alexa) helping. For those who are in the dark, Mindy is famous among genre fiends as the sexy, to die for piercing fiend undead in "Return of the Living Dead 3".
T & A
We get all kinds of chicks in smaller than “Webster” underwear. We also get the now famous G-string butt shot and a quick peek-a-boo tit shot. The ladies get a buff dude…well…in the buff. Why doesn’t Smurfette ever wear a G-string? Food for thought…
DIRECTING
Disturbing images, somber/out there atmosphere, a brilliant knack at capturing momentum via slow motion and a swift pace made all of these shorts a visual orgasm to witness. Everybody involved should pat each other on the ass and fuck hard.
SOUNDTRACK
Once again, we get a gripping score by Don Davis. This man sure knows how to capture the magic of "The Matrix" world via his sound. We also get some techno, some old school saxophone jive and one pop rock song.
DVD FEATURES
IMAGE: 2.35:1 (anamorphic) The image transfer here was simply flawless and quite a sight to behold.

SOUND: The Dolby 5.1 track imbued me into the world of these films and kept me there with high quality. Again…flawless.

EXTRAS:

Voices: Get to view The Second Renaissance Parts 1 and 2, Program and World Record with subtitled director commentaries. We can play them individually or one after another. All four commentaries address the animator’s inspiration in terms of the designs, the craft of anime and the way the Wachowski Brothers' created universe appealed to them. To be honest, apart from some random bits of trivia, I didn’t get much out of these commentaries; they were a tad too technical for me in terms of “anime”. I think fans of the art will get lots more out of it than I did.

Scrolls to screen: The history and culture of anime (22 minutes): This feature acknowledges the influence that “anime” had on The Matrix films with “anime” artists coming in to prop The Matrix as clips from the film unfold. Joel Silver gets in there to pat his own back and we then get a hefty history lesson in the roots of “anime”. A decent feature.

Execution (55 minutes): This feature gives a “Making Of” for all 9 shorts that we can either play individually or all together. The animators talk about the process of anime, how it was working with the Wachowski Brothers, comment on their respective films and what they wanted to accomplish. We also get lots of insight about each respective animator and their personal techniques. Informative and interesting.

Enter The Matrix in the Making (3 minutes): A sneak peak at the now released video game. I played the game BTW, it’s tied to Reloaded and Animatrix. It’s okay, if not a little too easy and too damn short. Still fun times though...using bullet time rocked!

Creators: Basically your standard bios on the players involved.

All in all, a high quality DVD with decent to badass EXTRAS. Get it, play it, love it.
BOTTOM LINE
My friends and I once went bathing off the sunny coast of St. Bart with spider Monkeys for two weeks while tripping on acid. Needless to say, it changed our old perspective on shite. Watching "The Animatrix" was close to that experience. Who needs juice when you get stuff like this penetrating your grey matter? Although all of the stories varied in impact, the whole came through and gave me 78 well spent minutes. Every Matrix junkie should own this disk and the uninitiated should as well (yes, you too Grandma).
BULL'S EYE
Check out the official Animatrix site here: http://www.intothematrix.com/
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