A Prologue’s Prologue:

Most of my week’s vacation so far has been completing various handyman things (not to mention the more boring “chores”) around the house. One idea I’ve had for a long time is to split up the Animatrix episodes and distribute them into a sort of chronological order throughout the trilogy.

So, here it goes.

The Second Renaissance Part I:

Okay, so this was a no brainer. However, I remember that part I and II were released in the months leading up to The Matrix Reloaded. For that I actually considered going against convention and placing them between the first and second movie. However, there are at least two films that fit perfectly in that slot. If I could get a set of three Animatrix shorts before each film, I figure that would be best.

The first part of Second Renaissance covers the story up to the start of the war between humans and machines. The imagery of oppression and cruelty is very effectively done, mimicking past human genocides. It is absurd to the viewer since we still live in a world where machines are ‘objects’. However, it is also very effective because we have grown up in this generation seeing mass graves, gang violence and dictatorship-like oppression and for this short we only need to transpose a new victim into the picture.

The Second Renaissance Part II:

This is where you get to see the brutality of war, and the great lengths that each side is willing to go to. Although the imagery in the first part was very literal,, there seems to be more abstract imagery in the second. More about mythology and religion. Although both films start off with a Hindu-like goddess as the interface for the Zion database which acts as the narrator. 

The most brutal scene in all four movies is in this segment and a man is ripped out of his battle suit sans arms and legs. The effort is put on obliterating the humans with the same violence they were taught by their creators. The picture is not made more disturbing by the fact that our violence has been turned back on us by something cold, calculating and unfeeling, but simply because we are the victims.

Side note:

I program DVDs for a living. I think it’s very clever how they splice the end credits on to each short when watched individually. Yeah, I know how it’s done, but that is not my point. Yeah, it turns a ten minute short into a 17 minute piece with credits for all nine films, but that’s mot my concern either. The issue is that theres NO CHAPTER JUMP!

A Detective Story:

There are a lot of lists out there suggesting the order in which to watch these movies. Most will have you sitting through most of them before you even watch The Matrix. Yet this film is often excluded until the break between the second and third movies citing that “Trinity hasn’t been introduced yet”. But it is for that reason I think it is a perfect lead-in for the first film. It introduces her character without revealing too much. She keeps her slick, PVC-friendly mysterious self until the big movie starts. Trinity is in the first scene of the landmark 1998 film, so it makes a perfect prologue.

The film is an interesting mash-up between The Matrix and Dark City, questioning which reality is the REAL reality. The Alice In Wonderland metaphor used sparingly in The Matrix becomes a central theme here. It becomes clear that Trinity is really obsessed with the metaphor, or that it’s her way of dealing with the dichotomy of living in the Matrix and in the real world.

But that assumes that I’ve watched the first film… which I haven’t, yet.

The structure of this short is probably my favourite of the bunch. Unfortunately, my favourite to watch isn’t until the third segment…

The Matrix:

OOOoooo…  digital green Warner Brothers logo. I remember that this was the first movie that screwed around with the logo, then everyone started doing it as one of the many, many ways the Matrix was copied in subsequent years.

I considered buying the Blu-ray copies of the movies, as they’re only twenty bucks each. A 46” screen and upsampling PS3 do a wonderful job of ensuring that Carrie-Anne Moss is still impossibly hot.

The continuation of the agents hunting down the “Hacker” Trinity is continued here, and it seems I was right in assuming that A Detective Story is as perfect a lead-in for the the first movie as Final Flight of the Osiris is for the second.

‘Mesculine’? WTF is that anyway, besides something that makes you not sure “if you’re awake or still dreaming”?

Ah, the goth club scene. This always brings me back to Club Abstract. Same music, same outfits, same dork over in the corner. One of the few places someone as dorky as Keanu can be approached by someone as hot as Trinity.

Useless trivia break: The two window washers outside the office when Mr. Anderson is being chewed out by his boss are the Wachowski Brothers.

Hold on a sec.. The cat just rolled over on the remote and ejected the disc.

Interesting. Now we see the tracer that’s injected in Neo and with the help of the Animatrix short, I the viewer know what it is. That’s a mystery that doesn’t lose any power just because I know what the Agents are doing.

Hmm.. The Cadillac that he gets in looks like a hardtop version of the one used during the intro to “Entourage”.

You’ve been down there before. You know that road. You know exactly where it ends”. That metaphor is taken a bit too literally when you are shown the actual street. It’s never explained what is meant if that line does have a literal interpretation, so it can be chalked up to a cut scene, inaccurate direction of photography, or just bad writing.

In the game “The Path Of Neo” you get to make the journey that Neo does through all three movies in his shoes, including the Red Pill/Blue Pill question. You can even choose the Blue Pill, but it makes for a boring game because “…the story ends, you wake up and believe whatever you want to believe.”

I always wanted glasses without arms like Morpheus has. As it stands, I have a difficult time finding a pair that sits on my wonky nose WITH arms. Ten years later and I’ve just settled on polarized lenses to make me feel kewl.

There’s a great article that addresses the weak plot device on how the machines use humans as a power source. I can’t find it right now, but it suggests that they should have written that the machines use humans as CPU power. It makes sense, since there was a lot of talk in the late 90’s about bioengineering. In fact, bio-computing was a popular topic for a long time until recently, when quantum computing proved somewhat possible.

“If you’re killed in the Matrix”, you die in the real world. I get that. If you land on the pavement, you spit up blood. I don’t get that.

Those freaking cool modified Nokia 8110 phones. I remember that’s how I learned that different parts of the world have different cell phone technologies – even if I bought and imported one then it wouldn’t work here. About four or five years ago I looked into finding one again so I could wrap the large shell around a slim phone. It never happened. The 8110’s and even the 7110 have retained their value over time.

When the door first opens to the Oracle’s apartment,
it looks like he’s going into a brothel.

Once in, you see children levitating building blocks… AND GIANT BUNNIES RUNNING AMOK THROUGH A NEIGHBOURHOOD ON THE TV SCREEN! I guess people are so infatuated with telekinetic abilities they don’t notice GIANT BUNNIES RUNNING AMOK THROUGH A NEIGHBOURHOOD ON THE TV SCREEN!

Morpheus’ head hits a toilet bowl and the bowl breaks from the impact. There’s a lot of bullets and bloody parts in this movie, but nothing looks as painful as that one shot.

The first thing I load up whenever I get new speakers, a new DVD player or a new TV screen is the Lobby Scene from The Matrix. As time has gone on, I’ve found that it’s not the ideal scene for audio/visual benchmarking, but it’s still pretty freaking cool.

Just a refresher on “Bullet Time”. I haven’t looked up the Wikipedia entry on it, but I’ve never felt altogether comfortable using that as an absolute reference – especially on pop culture topics where opinions can be varied… and loud.

Simply put, bullet time is a slowed down, multi-camera shot. Just slow-mo, or a still shot with CG rotoscoping doesn’t count. Both have to be present. However, individually they are cheap and constituted the vast majority of fight scenes in post-Matrix action films. Still, while many efforts have been made to improve on the technology, the first fist-fight between Neo and Agent Smith was one of those moments that changed the genre.

The exit that Neo’s running for is in the same building where we first meet Trinity at the beginning. I never kept track of the room number (303), but that’s the same one that Neo goes to. It kind of explains why Agent Smith was waiting in the room for him when Neo arrived… he clearly knew where the exit was.

One time of the many dozens that I’ve seen this film, I watched simply to observe Keanu’s performance. There really are a number of spots where he takes the scene down a notch. That said, he’s still the perfect actor to cast as someone who’s just a couple of plot points behind the rest of the characters (see: Bill & Ted, Point Break, Speed, etc.).

I always got the feeling that the flying thing Neo does at the end was written in to show how evolved he’s become. I’ve also always had the feeling that they then had to shoehorn that ability into the sequels. But that’s for another time.

It’s midnight, and I have tomorrow to complete the second and third segments to this marathon, starting with my Animatrix selections for bridging the first and second movies.


more to come…