This was put out pretty much in tandem with the release of the second Matrix movie. It's 9 "shorts" by varying artists that use the background story of the Matrix as reference (some more liberally than others). While the animation ranges from passable to creative, it doesn't help the fact that many of the actual stories are pretty lame. This is purely eye candy for the masses, which seems to follow the trend of the second movie Reloaded. Here's a breakdown of the stories in extremely brief synopsis. SPOILERS are probably present, but considering the content, it's not really that big of a deal. That said, it's fun to watch comic books in animated form...
#1 Final Flight of Osiris: aka Final Fantasy: Matrix Style. The beginning is any CG artist's wet dream for computer animated people without going NC-17. The rest becomes tragic. For some reason, I didn't care.
#2/#3: The Second Renaissance Parts I & II: Besides the 3D contributions, plays out like Richard Corben artwork (aka the "Den" sequence from the movie Heavy Metal). A lot of the sequences are played out with hyper-fast cuts, so if you want to pick up any details, be ready to hit the "slow" button on the remote. At least it seemed that way to me. (but in defense, I was pretty drunk)
#4: Kid's Story: It's really okay to commit suicide, cuz there is something better. Really. There is. Go ahead, we'll see you on the other side. Animation is usually cool, story is poop in my pants bad. Skate or Die! Pandering to an audience that shouldn't be watching it at its worst.
#5: Program: A more "classic" Japanimation style. What does it have to do with the Matrix? Oh yeah. How original. Some more poop in my pants.
#6: World Record: Decent concept, horrifically executed in the painful stereotypes.
#7 Beyond: BAD Japanimation style gets a little better as it progresses, with a somewhat decent story considering the previous, but it still sucks.
#8 A Detective Story: Gak! While I appreciate pushing the limits of using a Matrix-style theme, this has some of the worst dialogue written. Ever. Too bad, the black & white technique is pretty good, I'd like to see it applied to something other than a poorly written film-noir piece.
#9 Matriculated: Aeon Flux on acid. Overall, the disc saves the best for last, a very visually creative piece with some semblance of story (in comparison to the rest of the turds).
So yeah. This is pretty much the epitome of style over substance. The only longevity I can see this ever having is in a Rocky Horror kind of way. If you're a fan of the Matrix, it barely passes the time. If you're a fan of next-generation animation techniques or video games, you may actually enjoy at least some of it. My suggestion is if you pick it up, just mute the sound and throw on some kind of techno music, it pretty much has the same effect.
Great Scene: Can't say much for the plots, but there's some great artwork scattered throughout the episodes. I'd have to say my favorite are from #8, #9, and #2/3.
DVD Notes: Warner Bros. fucks me again with the DVD-ROM features not being available on the Macintosh. Fortunately, I don't care too much on this one. One note, though: While the initial menu is nicely done, the rest are a bit fucked up cuz it's hard to see what you have highlighted as your selection. This in some circles would be known as "bad design." Or I'm just getting old. Either way, it's a bit annoying. There's quite a bit of extra materials on the disc, and maybe one day I'll be bored enough to actually go through 'em.