31 May 2003 | bob the moo
Stylish and interesting look into the history of the matrix
Entering the archives of Zion we are allowed a look at the history of the matrix. Many years before the machines turned the world into one of machines, man was on top and robots worked to support their lifestyles. When the destruction of a machine is ruled as legal under property rights, large marches for civil equality lead to murder and destruction, the machines retreat to the middle east where they set up a city - however trade wars soon lead to greater conflicts as peace becomes increasingly unlikely.
Having seen the animated short that sets up the warning on the attack on Zion I was then interested to see the vision of the rise of the machines. Part 1 exists separate from part 2 and I am looking forward to seeing the conclusion of the rise. Part 1 is delivered in a mix of Japanese and Western animation styles that is perhaps a little more graphically violent than I had expected. Starting with one machine's `rights' the film chronicles a civil rights movement that mirrors many events in recent human history, these bits don't work that well as it feels like it isn't being clever and is just re-imagining real history. However the actual story is gripping - mainly because even though events seem small, we know where (in this world) events will lead.
The animation is stylish but a little too violent - a human skull crushed and a `woman' sexually attacked are beyond what I expected to see, even though they do hammer home the point forcefully. Some of the machines are a little too crude to be convincing but overall the animation is strong and the direction is slick. It would be easy to dismiss this as a cynical marketing ploy I think it has more value than just that purpose. This short tells me more about a universe that I am interested in. I have not seen Reloaded at the time of writing this (but will be in a matter of days) but I know that the first film was hooked on discovering what the matrix was and the audience uncovering the extent of the false world at the same time as Neo did. This short succeeds because it allows further understanding of this reality.
On the whole it is easy to dismiss this but it does have enough style of it's own to justify it's existence as a short in it's own right. It shows that (unlike many blockbusters) this trilogy (for all it's flaws) was established in a world that was planned rather than one which was expanded when the box office suggested that it would be a good idea to try to do so.