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102 Monica Ali, Alice Sebold


104 Superman, Comic Odyssey


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.VI'!’ ‘1 .I/ THE ANIMATRIX (15) 90min 0...

spawn endless sequels and ancillary money-

making schemes, this DVD spin-off to The Matrix trilogy might seem like just another way of relieving the public of more than the price of a cinema ticket. But where the Enter the Matrix computer game, mobile phone extensions might be just that, The Animatrix genuinely does have intrinsic value.

Conceived by the Wachowski brothers, The Animatrix comprises nine animated short films which, while telling tales tangential to the full length movies, work as stand-alone animations in their own right. The shorts are made in the Japanese anime style, and apart from the four which were written by Larry and Andy Wachowski and the one directed by American Andy Jones, all of them were created by leading anime filmmakers. That said, the aesthetics vary greatly, from CGI photo-realism to cartoon styling.

It’s possible you‘ll already have seen the first short, ‘The Final Flight of the Osiris', which was available to download from the internet and was previewed in cinemas as support to Dreamcatcher. ‘Osiris’ works as an introduction to Reloaded, setting up the nightmare scenario in which the evil computers that rule The Matrix's post- apocalyptic future world conceive of a plan to destroy the last human enclave, Zion.

It begins with a samurai sword-fight in a combat simulation programme in which the male and female opponents undress each other with carefully placed blows. The staging is pure tongue-in-cheek (and not a little cheek of the other kind, too), something ‘Osiris‘ shares in common with the first Matrix film, though not with the rather too-seriously minded sequel. The photorealistic animation impresses, although human motion, particularly hair movement, continues to be troublesome for the CGl boffins. This isn’t a problem during the second half of ‘Osiris‘, when the eponymous hovercraft (of the same design as that flown by Neo and co) is attacked by hoards of robotic squids known as sentinels. During this thrilling sequence it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the animated ‘Osiris' and live action Matrix.

‘The Second Renaissance Parts I and ll’ (also written by the Wachowskis) fills in the

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107 Enter the Matrix

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It’s thrilling to see the Osiris hovercraft being attacked by hoards of robotic squids known as sentinels

background history to the world of the Matrix. Conceived as archive films from the libraries of Zion and employing old fashioned cell animation, ‘The Second Renaissance' tells of the creation of artificially intelligent machines, their enslavement by the human race and subsequent self-liberation. Viewers may find the exposition of these two shorts useful, particularly if they

found Reloaded‘s narrative dense and confusing.

Other of The Animatrix shorts also play around with the ideas developed by the Wachowskis. Just as ‘The Second Renaissance', identified with the machines, so too does ‘Matriculated', in which a group of human rebels capture a robot

and reprogram it to become an ally. The only problem is the robot develops an appetite for human as opposed to machine reality.

It’s this use of ideas developed by the Wachowskis in The Matrix trilogy as a platform for new stories and themes that makes The Animatn'x something more then mere ancillary product. Perhaps that's why there's not much in the way of extras on the disc (a documentary about anime history and interviews with anime makers), but then the whole disc is, in effect, an extra to the movies. It‘s also a fine stand-alone short film collection in itself. (Miles Fielder)

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.' ./’ THE LIST 101