The idea of the Matrix is so full of potential and could be taken in so many, many directions. The movies decided to go in the direction of pretension but the Animatrix goes EVERYWHERE the movies don't. It is so far superior and well worth the time. It's a shame that most audiences don't consider Anime or any form of animation to be 'real' or something that they should take seriously (sadly even Matrix fans feel this way and won't watch it simply because it's animation) because they're missing out on something very special here.
It's not original to review this DVD by going thru all the shorts so I'll just stick to what I like best (which is most of it). First of all, 'The Second Renaissance Parts 1 and 2' is absolutely VITAL as backstory to the first Matrix film. And it's a zillion times more interesting than the sequels in terms of drama, irony and subtext. 'The Final Flight of the Osiris' takes place before Reloaded and leads us into story of the machines beginning to drill down to Zion. And it's very cool. 'Detective' is a story of a private eye trying to find Trinity and discover what exactly the Matrix is. But Agent Smith comes after him to put a stop to that. It's in black and white and has a wonderful atmosphere of 1950's dime novel pulp fiction. 'Matriculated' is the story of a captured machine who is taught/hypnotized into feeling what it's like to be human. It's a very clever story that manages to provoke feeling for the characters (and even the captured machine), something the movies never did. 'Kid' is about the kid from Revolutions who takes over the Mech at the end and manages to open the doors to Zion. Apparently, before being freed, he was a schoolkid who met Neo online and wanted to 'wake up'.
But the best one is 'Beyond'. A magical tale with an atmosphere so solid that it's almost tangible. It's about a girl who goes looking for her cat in an old abandoned factory with some other kids. But in this factory the Matrix is having problems and 'reality' for the characters doesn't quite work properly. It's a very interesting tale that really makes you think.
There are numerous extras on this DVD, all of them more interesting that the other Matrix DVDs. All 9 of the shorts are presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound. It's truly for all fans and non-fans of the Matrix universe.