Science-fiction action adventure with reasonable symbolic depth and significant world cinema influences.
The world seems composed of a shoddy neo-noir 1998 any-metropolis including elements of Chicago and Sydney, where cops take orders from menacing pale men in black suits, stylish shades and cute bodyguard earphones. Computers spew pop-ups and people seem to like it that way. A non-descript hacker has a late-night quest for information about a strange man who disappears at airports. After some Carroll allusions, it turns out that the world is non-physical. Fusion works, but hey, body heat is so much more... sustainable and... high in output?
I wish they’d spent less time developing allusions and anagrams, and more developing technology. It would also have been better if they’d focused on the Matrix as a metaphor for self-imposed First World ignorance and nonchalance, because that interpretation doesn’t really hold up.
Nine short films, totaling about two hours, although two of the nine parts are actually chapters of one story. Media vary from full 3D to different hand-drawn styles like Peter Chung’s. Kawajiri wrote and directed only two segments, “Program” and “World Record”.
Some inclusions tie in with the live-action storyline. We see the Osiris discovering the army, and we meet the enthusiastic young fan of Neo who’s fresh out of the Matrix in Reloaded. Some include known characters (Trinity scouting for a potential rebel), some elaborate on the historical background of the Matrix and some are independent. The really good stuff is “The Second Renaissance” which details history (rise of the machines), “Program” which features Shintō torii zipping in like the shelves of guns in The Matrix, “Beyond” which is about a geographically localized glitch, and “World Record” which describes a man spontaneously waking up.
A lot of variation, not only in visual style but in the treatment of the setting. Within “The Second Renaissance”, for instance, some machines are realistic and some are geometrically simplistic steampunk puppets, which is annoyingly inconsistent even for a single work in the Matrix franchise.