Animatrix: Beyond
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Article by Virtual Worldlets Network
Copyright 13/08/2009
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Beyond starts out displaying a green and black abstract overview of a city - the machines' version of a map. A box starts flashing, highlighting a single neighbourhood and the display zooms in. Something is not right there. In fact, something is very, very wrong. The display turns sideways on, and fades out as the Matrix at that location, fades in.

It's a busy part of the city, in the middle of the morning. Large crowds cross through the streets, in a blur of speed, and again we see an overlaid green and black display, keeping track. The display zooms in again, and isolates a single building, then flickers out.

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Back in the Matrix, it's late morning and a deserted neighbourhood. A single crow flies down and hops about, then flies off as a cat comes running out. 'Yookey' as she is called, is not supposed to be outside, and her owner, a young woman, is just getting the cat's dinner out, talking to a cat that is not there as she does so.

Yookey is wandering down walls, heading downtown. She stops by a single old, abandoned house, in a plot of its own and her fur bristles. Something over that wall feels very wrong to her. Meanwhile, her owner is nattering away on the phone, is calling for Yookey, but has not yet begun to suspect her cat is gone.

Finally realising something is wrong; she darts about the house, looking out of the balcony, through windows, all around the neighbourhood. No Yookey. She goes out, asks the neighbours, strangers, anyone she sees, if they've seen Yookey. One kid says he knows, he says she's at the old haunted house.

Another kid calls out "Hey look! There's a rainbow over there again!" There is indeed a rainbow over the house, which is odd, as there is not a cloud in the sky. "Are we going? It's probably raining there again."

Back to the machines' display, and it is clear their diagnostics are saying something is very wrong. Its over the haunted house, and the whole thing is flashing red. A battery of diagnostics scrolling past doesn't help. It's a Problem, a major abnormality, and it needs to be fixed.

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They arrive outside the house, just as the view switches. Elsewhere in town, a large truck of what looks to be an unearthly design is travelling the roads, heading towards the house. Even the people it passes have never seen anything like it. A dog upon seeing it, panics, and barks nervously, pulling on its leash. Whatever is inside that truck really does not feel right.

The young woman has arrived at the 'haunted house' only to find it is a ruin, overgrown with weeds, and the roof caved in. Nervously she steps inside, looking for Yookey. Then she sees it. An old tin can, open, discarded. Nothing unusual there, except the can is levitating. Its hovering unsupported above a barren patch of ground. Nervously she walks closer. No doubt about it, it's levitating.

Standing there and staring at it, she happens to look to her left. An old, stray dog is there, eating at the grass. It steps forwards to try the grass further back in the shadows. As it does so, the shadows grasp out, flowing up the dog, changing it. The dog looks up and two glowing red eyes stare out of a black, featureless shape. It goes back to eating the grass as the blackness continues to consume it.

Elsewhere a light flickers. Upon closer inspection, it's a broken light bulb, hanging from a rusty chain. Yet every so often, the ghost of an intact bulb, shinning brightly, overlays the broken one perfectly.

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Now scared she runs through the house and stops as she enters one of the rooms with an intact ceiling. It's raining. Inside. In the room. A constant downpour. An intact window to the right, reveals that it is still a bright, sunshiny day outside. She steps closer, and looks up. The roof over the rain is gone. She looks straight up into the cloudless sunlight, and the rain keeps on pounding down.

Heading down a side corridor, she hears a hissing sound like voices, but not quite. Turning about, the other end of the corridor is shimmering in a digital pattern. Like when the Matrix rebuilds itself, this is shimmering, trying to rebuild, over and over, in an endless loop.

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Scraps of paper materialise out of the rebuilding area, and fly down the corridor, riding a hurricane that sprung out of nowhere. Batting them off she struggles forwards, to get out of the wind. Falling to her knees, she looks on amazed as the papers fold in on themselves and vanish into the floor along with the wind.

She finds the kids in another room, happily throwing glass bottles at the far wall, whereupon they shatter, then freeze in time, before unshattering and returning to an intact bottle, and flying back into the room. They are trying to catch these unshattered bottles as they rebound, and laughing.

She hears a meow, and dashes out to find Yookey playing in the back garden. Cuddling her tight, she is so relieved to have her cat back. Back on the roads, the strange truck is getting closer, and showing itself to be of even more esoteric design.

One of the boys comes down to join her - he's jumped off the roof three stories up, and has landed next to the can, spread eagled, floating a few inches off the ground. He's unharmed. Another kid leaps down to join him, and looking at the ground as he hovers, whispers "yes", in relief. Then his nose starts to bleed. It impacted the ground, and the other kids deride him for this.

A white dove flies down, then flies off - in slow motion. The woman smiles, and leans to her side. Her legs leave the ground, and she just floats down to the horizontal. This house is haunted, but nothing is harmful. Its as if whatever forces define and shape reality, have come undone here.

The whole group of them have fun in the strange gravity and time effects of the central room, laughing and joking, cares forgotten. Then, the truck arrives. It smashes through the wall at the side of the property, nearly running one of the kids down, and skids to a halt on the grounds, looking undamaged.

A door in the side opens and men in biohazard suits pour out. The kids are captured immediately, but Yookey has fled into the house and her owner has gone after her. She finds the cat down in the basement, scratching at a red door there. Happy to see her cat again, she picks her up, then opens the door. Voices stream out of the blackness, a room that literally, goes on forever. No ceiling and no floor, just a dark void. Essentially it leads outside the Matrix, still plugged into the machine, but outside the simulation itself, a blank space.

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Before she can step through, the men in biohazard suits catch up to her.

A helicopter arrives, carrying agents, and the scene is chaotic as the kids are held off to one side, onlookers are pushed away, and large hoses full of some kind of foamy substance are unfurled from the truck.

A report briefly flashes up on the machines' screen that the anomaly is being dealt with, and then it is complete. The location has been reconfigured. The next day, the kids go back.

It's just a parking lot now. All the inconsistencies and bugs in the Matrix have been removed. All the objects and code of the old house have been erased wiped clean. There is nothing left. Dejected, they slink off, looking for something else to do. The machines keep scanning, looking for the next one.

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Running time: 13:03

Written by by Koji Morimoto
Directed by Koji Morimoto


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The Animatrix

The Animatrix is a collection of nine short animations, a mix of CG and hand drawn animation, starting with this one, and moving through eight others, each with a unique point of view. Some are deeply philosophical , some wax poetic. All are filled with information on VR, on what it could and can quite easily be, beyond the matrix series itself.

Ironically, Flight of the Osiris is the odd one out, as it is the most plot-canon of the nine, and has the least to offer in philosophical or technical musings about VR. That said, the CG still gives us a great deal to muse over visually, but the others too, are well worth a look.

Review also links to all nine short films.

The Ultimate Matrix Collection

The 'Ultimate Matrix Collection' is actually rather less than ultimate, since it does not include the Matrix philosophy books, and other add-ons. However, what this bumper DVD collection does include, is all three films, and the Animatrix.

Other Links

Resource List: Everything Matrix

A resource list held on VWN, attempting to index everything we have, Matrix related. It continues to grow steadily over time