7 June 2003 | PlanecrazyIkarus
The "Second Renaissance" shorts, both part 1 and part 2, are, to me, the biggest disappointments of the Animatrix. They have the look and the feel of a history lesson, the kind of extended Prologue I was so glad to not have in the Matrix. Having Morpheus hint at the past in the original was so much more satisfying than seeing cartoon robot people in this history lesson.
It is spiked with stunning imagery, though, and much of it disturbing. Seeing a living human head torn apart and the brain splatter out, or a robot girl being assaulted and kicked into bits, or the first humans being inserted into generators, not as infants, but as adult prisoners of war, fully alive and conscious and in great pain - yes, on the gore front, this short and its sequel deliver massively, perhaps even too much for comfort.
But at the same time, they disappoint. Being shocking is fine - after all, they cause an emotion and that is the intention. But for a story taking itself so seriously, with religious imagery inserted throughout (apples of knowledge, apocalyptic riders, and more), watching cartoon robots erect a pyramid Egyptian style as slaves of humans just feels awkward and ridiculous. The Matric Universe thrives on its organic-looking machines, not on the ancient image of walking-talking robot people that would have been just as home in the minds of 1920s Science Fiction writers. And despite all the strong imagery, the shorts disappoint because they just give too much history detail. An unknown history hinted at is a brilliant thing in a Scifi movie like the Matrix. Being presented with a "Zion Archive" footage Animatrix movie, Morpheus suddenly appears a bit stupid for not knowing what other humans evidently know, and quite frankly, the traditional "man against machine" setting with a hint of politics and religion thrown in is just plain ridiculous.
5/10 (for achieving to cause the desired effect, shock, with its imagery, but also for failing to contribute value to the Matrix Universe)