The Animatrix is a series of nine animated shorts focused around settings and events influenced through the Wachowski Brothers's movie trilogy of The Matrix. Seeing as different animation studios did each of the animated shorts, it would be rather hard for me to rate the anthology as a whole. The quality of each of the shorts vary so I'm gonna have a look at them individually.
Final Flight of the Osiris is completely CG-animated and focused on two members of the human rebellion trying to warn Zion of an incoming attack from enemy robots. The visuals were quite slick and filled with fluid animation. The starting scene featuring a Matrix clash between the two rebellion members was the highlight of this short for me. Otherwise, the story behind it didn't really interest me.
Both parts of The Second Renaissance serve as a prequel to events in the Matrix film trilogy focused on the development of robots, man's persecution of them, and the robotic rebellion which led to their takeover of the planet. A number of the events used in this two-part short seemed influenced from the long history of African Americans and Jews fighting for their own equality. But, this focus is shown in the light of a worst-case scenario where man's ignorance of equality of humanoid machines lead to it's downfall and shown in graphic fashion, making Second Renaissance the most graphic in content out of all the shorts in Animatrix. In terms of plot, Second Renaissance is the best of this set focused on detailed events that led up to the Matrix film trilogy.
Kid's Story focuses on Neo's efforts to communicate with a high school boy to help him out of the Matrix. This short can be a bit disturbing to some due to it's emphasis on suicide. The buildup towards the boy coming to terms with the reality behind the illusion he lives in is the focus of the short and makes for a decent watch.
Program features a simulated fight in the Matrix. It doesn't have much in the way of story, but has some slick animation and character designs which should make one giddy to see an animated Matrix fight if they crave eye-candy.
World Record centers on a pro jogger who unknowingly is about to become free of the Matrix. The jogger's thoughts of being 'free' by jogging serve as the emphasis of the short. The short made use of limited colors and plenty of character lining to create detailed and fluid character movements, visually shown through the jogger's race. The pain and exertion of the muscles during the scene were animated quite realistically and make this one of the better shorts for me to see.
Beyond shows a group of children exploiting an error in the Matrix to do things that defy the rules set up by the machines. A lighter story in comparison to the other shorts in Animatrix, Beyond features the innocence of children experiencing something out of the ordinary in the illusion that they call reality. This was another good short that I enjoyed.
A Detective Story features a detective's encounters with Trinity. Made in black-and-white to have the short appear like a classic mystery movie, Detective Story felt out-of-place with Animatrix due to its greater focus on treating itself like a mystery movie thus I feel it's the weakest short of the series.
Matriculated features two humans who attempt to teach captured machines the positive traits of humanity via a Matrix simulation in order to give them self-awareness. An original premise for the Matrix storyline, this short featured some slick and psychedelic visuals that represented the differences between the real world and the Matrix. A great use of symbolism was the slow tranformation of the machine into a humanoid form in the Matrix as it became self-aware. Quite the interesting short.
Animatrix's shorts are hit-and-miss depending on your tastes since each one has their own different styles of animation, direction, and storytelling. Having seen some or all of the Matrix live-action films is pretty much a necessity in order to understand the underlying themes and events of each of the shorts. This makes for a good treat if you are a fan of the Matrix or any collaborations made between animation talents.