While the movies themselves don’t have sequel numbering, these posts do. In this second segment, I’m choosing three Animatrix shorts that I feel fit between the second and third movies not only because they can, or because it’s responsible to the overarching storyline to do so. I have chosen shorts in an order to add and enhance the already innovative storytelling of the three films.

Program:

Along with A Detective Story, and the two parts of Second Renaissance, this was one of four films released online before the Animatrix was released. Perhaps it’s out-of-order to consider three of these films as perfect material to watch before the first movie, when their purpose was to drum up interest for the sequels.

I’ve chosen to watch it in Japanese with English subtitles. There is a mix of shorts that view better with Japanese dialogue and those that are better in English. I wish there was an option on the DVD menu that would sync the film with the original language the lip-syncing was done.

I’ll just have to remember to turn it back to English before the next film.

It’s a fascinating film, since it extrapolates what we’ve learned about the world of the Matrix films to include simulations not set in modern times. Setting the film in feudal Japan adds a sense of genuineness to the use of Anime.

This film sits well between the first and second films because it shows concepts that we’ve seen already – on-ship Matrix simulation, re-entering the Matrix, etc. The difference here is questioning what someone else in the same situation might do. It also fits better here because, by the end of the second film most of the ships and their crew have been destroyed.

Kid’s Story:

Certainly the most visually distinct film of the nine, and also the most melancholy.

It tells the Matrix escape story of one of the characters introduced in the second film. Chronologically, this is one of two no-brainers since “Neo” has already been revealed to be “The One”, but he has also escaped before The Matrix Reloaded.

However, if placed before the time of The Matrix, then a side-story could be told of how Neo is just a part of a larger underground movement of hackers who believe that the world we live in might not be real. We see Neo have these doubts in the first movie, so it’s not a stretch to think that there’s some underground group that believes the same.

While that’s a nice thought-experiment, that’s not the case. We see Neo at the end in “The Real World”. Still, I would like to see that reveal removed and allow the film to float in another layer of interpretation.

Final Flight of the Osiris:

The other no-brainer for placement in the chronology is the one the precedes The Matrix Reloaded by mere hours.

It uses the technology that was developed – and later bankrupted -  Squaresoft. Even by 3D standards today, it’s still the best, most realistic 3D technology available. the Final Fantasy movie that this technology was developed for really did an incredible job of jumping the Uncanny Valley.

The Matrix simulation fight sits in stark contrast to the one in Program. It’s very sexual in nature, both through the visuals and actions.

The segment that acts as a prologue for the first sequel is intense. With only seconds to go, the message is delivered to Zion that the machines are readying an attack. It’s a powerful film, and certainly the most entertaining to watch from a brain-candy perspective.

The Matrix Reloaded:

After waiting for years for the inevitable sequel to arrive in front of our eyes, the movie starts with an extended opening… an overture to the 4-5 hours left in the series.

We find that the first segments are simply Neo’s foreshadowing, prophetical dreams. So, it seems that a one-of-a-kind connection to the Matrix causes you to dream in green ASCII. I’ve had a dream with subtitles once and that was unsettling. It would suck to have all of your dreams in green, early 80’s technology. Although I guess having all my dreams in CGA would probably be worse.

The meeting of leather-clad captains is sort of like the club scene at the beginning of The Matrix, but without the kick-ass Rob Zombie remix music. Too bad, because the blah-blah-blah is unfortunate foreshadowing the the dialogue-heavy infighting amongst the humans through the rest of this film.

And then the first, kick-ass fight to a thumping soundtrack. Neo comments, “hmm. Upgrades”. Obviously referencing the better defensive abilities of the Agents, but subtly telling us that the fights are about to get a whole lot more interesting than they were in the last film.

Neo doing his “Superman Thing” suffers from a plunge into that Uncanny Valley. It’s really too bad, since the the Final Flight of the Osiris technology might have helped.

In the Real World, everyone goes by their hacker alias. I’m guessing that’s a reference to taking on a new name once being freed from slavery. However, I’m concerned that if I were similarly ‘freed’, that I would forever be known only as ‘theMediaman’, or worse, my gaming alias, “Bongo McFarlane”.

Either case would leave me in the Real World not doing much other than A/V work… or percussion. Given the upcoming rave scene, it would suck to be stuck up with the band during all that hot, sweaty rompin’.

Ew. Keanu bum.

Then we see the viral replication of Agent Smith, into a real human who then jumps back into the real world. It’s an interesting philosophical question – replacing a human brain with a computer program. But it’s not altogether unbelievable. There’s already technology that allows memories to be written to a mouse’s brain. Can it be that much further off to write a completely new, computer generated intelligence to the machines of a human brain? Well, for that we’re drifting into "”Ghost In The Shell” world.

Yet another philosophical question about who needs who more between the humans and the machines. While it is a symbiotic relationship they still war. A fact debated, but not fully discussed.  Perhaps the get-out-of-free card is how the old man says that he’s old and doesn’t have to make a point. Well, good, but there are a lot of brilliant philosophical questions raised in this film that don’t get answers.

One more philosophical discussion – this time with The Oracle. It has enough foreshadowing that it doesn’t let you completely fall asleep. Luckily the next scene involves an irrational number of Agent Smiths trying to beat the snot out of Neo.

Returning to the discussion on the Uncanny Valley, it would be very easy to screw up this scene with all of these Smiths. If the lighting on even one of a dozen of them were wrong, it would kick the viewer out of the action. Instead it does a fantastic job of creating a realistic, believable scene in spite of the unbelievable circumstances.

The introduction of rogue programs as other ‘people’ in the Matrix really stretches the metaphor, but it’s probably one of the most fun parts of the sequels. “Keymaker” is like a decryption algorithm. But making such a function into a cute, old Asian man. Turning code into something as unassuming a piece of chocolate cake is a stretch in everything but the Matrix.

Monica Bellucci’s Persephone is one of the most interesting characters not fully explored in this series. I know that she has a much more important role in the video game, “Enter The Matrix”, and that her scenes can be watched on the bonus disc for this
entry to the series. However, aside from being drop dead gorgeous, her character than the actress’s performance are fascinating. Her husband, The Merovingian is the focus of the scene, but it’s Persephone that really steals the scene.

Now the weapons fight scene. I believe this was one of the first scenes filmed for the new movies. It doesn’t show in how it it’s filmed or performed. Very complex filming and quick shots. The fight has many stages and ranges all over the room.

One of the scenes from the trailer that really got me excited was Morpheus with a freakin’ Samurai sword. When the final scene comes up, it’s really one of the highlights of the whole series.

Just from the beginning, the ghost-like Twins are fun adaptations of that programming metaphor. The scene then starts using one of the new, redesigned Cadillac CTS’s as the chariot for the heroes. This is was Cadillac’s shot at getting into the youth market. I have to admit, it slooks like a slick vehicle, and was one of the first cars of the 2000’s decade that I actually thought looked pretty cool. 

Add on that the fact that they built a 3-mile stretch of highway JUST FOR THIS MOVIE and that just adds to how much fun this scene is. 

OOOooo, yeah. Freaking Samurai sword in bullet time.

The fight between Morpheus and the Agent on top of the truck is set up like a Street Fighter intro. The first time I watched this movie I expected two health bars to pop up and the word ‘FIGHT’  to show in large, red letters.

Fun Fact: The software that’s running on the computer systems at the power station is nmap, which is a popular hacker tool. Clearly, they did their research.

As with many landmark films, they can sometimes be eclipsed by satire. There is a scene in the opening of the MTV Video Awards where Will Farrell plays The Archetect. Now, when I watch this scene, it’s very revealing… but just not as purely entertaining as the satire. I think it’s on the extras disc, I’ll have to load it up after this.

Boy, he really does use a lot of multisyllabic and Latin vernacular.

We’re told that the Matrix had been reset six times before, but this is clearly something different from all times before. I would have chosen a much higher number – the altered Matrix takes into account the anomaly, but obviously doesn’t take into account an anomaly in the anomalies (Neo). I would expect that it would take more than six before someone like Neo comes along.

One more “Superman Thing” and he saves Trinity.

The ending is very dark and uncertain. In this way it follows the ‘trilogy’ rule of The Good Guys winning the first film, while The Bad Guys win the second.

Finish with a teaser trailer of the third movie and on to the last collection of films.

more to come…