but you shouldn't. This is a very good movie and most any sci-fi or cyber freak should enjoy it. The premise is that in the near future a Los Angeles-based company has almost perfected a virtual reality system so real that a customer can jack into it and experience 1937 L.A. as a real person, interacting with cyberpeople who behave as real as their real-world counterparts. When the Craig Bierko character's boss (played by Armin Mueller-Stahl) turns up dead, our hero has no choice but to go into the 1937 reality. He discovers a very spooky thing: those 1937 characters have developed an independent consciousness and don't realize that they are "unreal" in any sense, mere technical creations.
The plot thickens, and I don't want to spoil it. I thought this movie should have done much better at the box office, and possibly it would have if not for the fact that The Matrix blew it and quite a few ships out of the water in the virtual-reality flick department. But The Thirteenth Floor has its own charms, and is well worth enjoying on its own terms.
on October 23, 2005
Here are a few elements of this movie that might appeal to some people:
Firstly, it presents a clearer, more sensible idea of how virtual reality works than its 1999 movie siblings "THE MATRIX" or "eXistenZ". And it does it thoughtfully, without mind-numbing action scenes and special-effects.
Secondly, the virtual reality world of L.A. in the 1930s is visually rich, yet doesn't stray too far from a realistic look.
Bonus extras are Armin Mueller-Stahl's, Vincent D'Onofrio's and Dennis Haysbert's performances, Gretchen Mol's lusciousness (also enjoyably down-to-earth as a grocery clerk), and exquisite direction and photography (Josef Rusnak, Wedigo von Schultzendorff)
On the DVD, director Rusnak makes the accompanying commentary in the way I like -- he comments on what we're watching with relevent and interesting behind-the-scenes info.
I rewatch this film (and film with commentary) frequently for these reasons.
on January 19, 2000
This movie is not a "Matrix rip off", far from it, it is one of the best Sci-Fi films I have ever seen. Craig Bierko is fantastic as Doug Hall, the computer scientist who is the prime suspect in the murder of his boss (Armin Mueller Stahl), Vincent D'onofrio is great as usual as Doug's partner Whitney, this is a great movie with great acting, great special effects and a great story, This is not I repeat NOT a Matrix retread, it goes where the Matrix did, and beyond, this movie is for fans of the old film noir movies, but still crave good sci-fi, This movie just proves that you don't need blood and guns, to make a good action movie.
on November 26, 1999
I saw this movie because I was bored and walking by the theater. I thought I would be killing time for a couple of hours: I was wrong, this time was not killed, it was extremely well spent. The thing I liked best about this film is that it doesn't take time out to explain things, but rather simply shows you the situation, and leaves the understanding to you. In other words, it does not insult your intelligence. Its theme is similar to that of The Matrix, Dark City, and ExistenZ. Having seen all of these, I would rate this one the best of all of them. While I enjoy cinematic gunfire and explosions as well as anyone, I do enjoy a film which does not feature a lot of this sort of thing, and instead relies on the plot itself to keep the story moving. This film is one such. The movie posters said "Question Reality." I am now following that advice. I would rate this film as the best I've seen this year. Now I'm just waiting for the video to come down in price.
on March 29, 2008
I love the movie, but was really disappointed in this DVD! When I purchased it, I didn't notice that it was only the full screen version. Coming back to check on Amazon, it seems this movie is not even available in wide screen! (At least not in region one.) So many of the special effects shots are wasted in a full screen version. You don't really get the full effect. If they ever do a widescreen version I would buy it but this DVD does not do the movie justice.
Another disappointment in this DVD is the lack of special features. This DVD is listed as a "Special Edition." Seeing that, I was expecting some good special features, but all it had was the trailer, a few still shots, and a VERY brief one-screen bio on the actors. That is not what I would expect from a special edition!
I get the impression the DVD version was rushed together with very little thought. Sony, you can do better than this!!!
on March 11, 2005
Yes, this movie pre-dates the Matrix and in fact has a much more interesting storyline than that film. I see why the 2 are so often compared, but I would describe the 13th Floor as an intellectual version of the Matrix.
The plot has already been discussed so I am going to simply mention some of my favorite aspects of this film. It was fascinating how these programmers could create such a realistic virtual world, wherein the people are programs and have no idea of the truth (see, how the Matrix ripped it off?). Imagine finding out you are nothing but a bunch of 1's and 0's and there is no possibility for change or escape?
It is exceedingly clever how one character leaves clues in the virtual world that allows another character to help solve a mystery in the real one.
Interestingly, perhaps due to a limited budget, more attention was paid to the actual story instead of filling the screen with all kinds of cheesy cgi, which resulted in a better, more fulfilling movie, as opposed to a simple action flick.
Vincent D'Onofrio submits yet another stellar acting performance. I am always floored by how he can look so completely different from one role to the next. Check out the brilliant independant flick, Salton Sea, if you are a fan. (As an aside, while I did not particularly enjoy The Cell, Vincent gave the most chilling performance I have ever seen in my life and one that I will never forget...too bad Jlo was involved.)
If you are interested in the concept of virtual reality or even parallel worlds, or maybe just new types of entertainment technology, you will no doubt enjoy the 13th Floor. While it is a slow-moving drama, the intriguing storyline and believable performances will keep you more interested in this film in the long run than some cheesy, special effects laden popcorn flick.
on February 12, 2002
By the time I had seen this film on video, I had already seen the two films it is often compared to, THE MATRIX and DARK CITY, and although I have enjoyed both of these motion pictures on numerous occasions, I still find that I can always watch THE THIRTEEN FLOOR and get drawn back in.
It could very well be that what other reviewers are critical of about this movie is what actually makes me like it all the more; namely that science fiction that makes up a large part of the story line is not so complicated as to overpower the film noir-like quality this movie also possesses. The plot remains simple yet provocative, particularly after one encounters the plot twist near the end of the movie.
And it is that plot twist that provides one of the reasons why I slip this DVD of this movie into my player twice as often as I do those other two films..... With The Matrix and with Dark City, I am made to question the reality of the environment I live in; with The Thirteenth Floor, I am forced to examine the very foundation of my own existance. Deep concepts indeed...and from such a simple movie too!
Besides that, I loved Fuller's 1937 simulation world, from the slightly sepia cast that colored everything, to the slightly edgy quality of the music in the cabaret (The program, like all computer programs, still had a few bugs in it....).
OK...I will agree that the plot, though simple, still managed to show more depth than any of the characters within it ....and the scene at the very end of the film could have been fleshed out more. BUT with that one star taken away, I still would recommend this movie....
Rent it and see it and find out I mean. Get a copy for your collection when you want to see it again.....I did.
THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR....most buildings don't have them due to our superstitions about the unlucky number. This movie's 13th floor adds some validity to this concern, but in a way one wouldn't imagine.
Opening with a stunning recreation of 1937 Los Angeles, the film moves into its labrynthine plot. Since that plot has been so carefully relayed by other reviewers, I won't bore the reader with my summation.
Suffice to say, it is an unusual film (I haven't seen MATRIX)that takes the viewer into a simulated world that is both intriguing and frightening.
Craig Bierko as Douglas gives a nicely understated performance in three very different roles. I've never seen Mr. Bierko before, but he should have a bright future..he's kind of like a Mel Gibson prototype in his laconic delivery.
Vincent D'Onofrio, a brilliant actor, gets to ham it up in two very different roles, one a villain, one a computer nerd.
Gretchen Mol looks like she stepped out of a 40s movie, and projects the right amount of mystery and sensuality.
Dennis Haysbert as the cop reminds me of Denzel Washington at times, but gives a solid performance.
Armin Mueller-Stahl as the pictures' focal character does a good job as well.
The direction is tight and the effects are dazzling, but the recreation of the 30s is beautifully shot and lit.
A nice surprise for reality vs. illusion fans.
on June 29, 2006
Tired of explosions and bad guys who shoot hundreds of bullets but still miss their main target? Try this drama/sci fi movie. The characters are the stars, not the sets nor the action sequences. Bierko is great as the lead and has star quality. Why can't he get more roles? Gretchen Mol is beautiful and is convincing as the mysterious blonde with a hidden agenda. I don't want to give much away as this is really a classical mystery.
In 1999, `The Thirteenth Floor' was a film with an interesting concept but since it came out after `The Matrix', the film kind of wasn't all that popular in the US. But if there was one thing that `The Thirteenth Floor' would be known for during the beginning of the DVD era and most likely now with its Blu-ray release is the fantastic audio. For audiophiles looking for a film that is up there there in quality HD sound, `The Thirteenth Floor' sounds absolute beautiful in Dolby TrueHD!
"THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR" is a film based on Daniel Galouye's book "Simulacron 3' and directed by German director Josef Rusnak and produced by Roland Emmerich (Director and Producer of "Independence Day", "The Patriot", "The Day After Tomorrow" and "10,000 BC").
The film takes place in the late 1990's and starts off with Hannon Fuller (Armin Mueller-Stahl), an owner of a multi-billion dollar tech company known for it's work in virtual reality simulation. As he quickly visits the bar and gives an urgent letter to the bar keeper Jerry Ashton (Vincent D'Oforio), Hannon visits a local bar and meets up with someone he knows but is stabbed to death.
The film then shifts to his good friend and protege Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko) who is contacted by the authorities specifically by LAPD Detective Larry McBain (Dennis Haysbert) for questioning in regards to Fuller's death. While both Hall and McBain visit Hannon's suite, they run into a woman who says that she is his daughter Jane (Gretchen Mol) and just came to town to visit her father.
As for Hall, he is shocked that his boss and good friend is dead but he feels that perhaps Fuller may have left him a clue in the virtual reality world that Fuller has been downloading into.
The concept of virtual reality with Fuller's technology is that a person has the ability to download themselves into a player and thus acting them out in almost a real-like world. For Douglas, he downloads himself into John Ferguson during the 1920's where he sees a version of Fuller and also meets up with the barkeeper (who has the urgent message written by Fuller and has read it). He tries to visit the online world and the first time he gets into that virtual world, he is shocked by how real it is. But what Ferguson doesn't know is that the barkeeper has seen Hall/Ferguson switch bodies and thus causing implications in the virtual world.
Things get out-of-hand during the second visit in which Ferguson meets up with Fuller to discuss this urgent letter that he wrote to him. Ferguson meets up with the barkeeper to find out why he has taken the letter meant for him and the barkeeper tells him that the letter contained information about the End of the World. In other words, driving to a location and finding out that the world that they (the characters in the virtual world) live in, is not real.
With someone from the virtual world now knowing the truth that their existence is not real, he shoots Ferguson to see if he will die. Fortunately, for Hall, he returns to his reality.
Meanwhile, Detective McBain and the authorities have a received an eyewitness report that Douglass Hall was responsible for the murder of Fuller and thus arrest him but release him out on bail when they have no real evidence against him. When McBain tells him that Fuller's daughter is not who she thinks that he is, Hall becomes even more confused.
That is until he drives to "The End of the World" and realizes that all this time, the world he lives in is a virtual world and he is a virtual character. Shocked by this development, Douglass tries to find out the truth of what is real and what is not real and who may have killed Fuller in his world. The person who may have the answer is the woman pretending to be Fuller's daughter. Thus Douglas begins his search for her.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR" is presented in 1080p High Definition with an aspect ration of 2:40:1. In some scenes, the picture quality looks good but for some other scenes, it looks aged. So, picture quality is a bit uneven at times. The film tends to use a lot of darker colors. A lot of blacks and if there is one thing that makes the film look cool is the actual use of city lights, the city look and just its use of darkness. The setup for the virtual world is OK despite it being ten years since the film came out. There are some technology featured on the film that shouts "1990's" but overall, the way the film goes from present time, to the past and then to the future, I liked that aspect. Granted, comparing it to "THE MATRIX" which came out a few months prior, unfortunately budget wise, the film didn't have the same quality or high technology type of feel.
If there was one thing going for the film, it was its use of audio. I remember during the initial home theater discussions for DVD's, "THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR" was among the top DVD's around 2001-2002 that were looked at as "reference" DVD's to show off one's home theater system because of the awesome audio. I remember testing the audio in my older receiver and just to hear the glass shatter, the virtual reality beams making its' noise to gun shots. The film's audio quality was just awesome.
So, needless to say, I had high expectations for the Dolby TrueHD audio for this film and sure enough, it didn't disappoint. The film came out loud and clear and I felt the sound all around me. The glass shattering and the virtual reality beams just sounded enormously sweet and overall, if I had it any louder, I think I could busted my eardrum. Now granted, with newer films that scream of gorgeous sound like "Quantum of Solace" and "Transformers", for an older film, "THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR" is just audio goodness and despite being ten years old, the film is just amazing to listen to. Its definitely a disc worth picking up to showcase Dolby TrueHD sound.
"THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR" unfortunately does not come with as many special features as its original DVD release. Included on the Blu-ray are:
* Commentary with Director Josef Rusnak and Production Designer Kirk M. Petruccelli - The commentary track features Josef Rusnak but if anything, with the film utilizing so much production design, it was a good choice by Rusnak to include Kirk M. Petruccelli to discuss a lot of the work he had to do for the film. If there was anything that I found quite intriguing in the commentary was Rusnak's comment about the end. He filmed so many different endings and even 'till now, he is not sure if he chose the correct ending.
* Music Video of "Erase/Rewind" by the Cardigans - An older music video by the Cardigans.
* Previews: Film trailers
The original DVD had a few more special features such as the audio test utilizing the film "Godzilla" which Emmerich did direct, production notes, conceptual art gallery and special effects gallery. Not quite sure why they eliminated those.
The Blu-ray is also BD-Live enabled.
Personally, I actually enjoyed "THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR". It was an interesting concept about virtual reality worlds and what if those virtual reality worlds created other virtual reality worlds and thus, I'm sure it can get quite confusing. Especially if one is able to freely travel to different eras.
But part of the problem with "THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR" is that with a $16 million budget, there is only so much you can do. And with a film like "THE MATRIX" coming out a few months before "THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR" back in 1999, they have their similarities but special effects-wise, "THE MATRIX" was just a significant film, while the "THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR" didn't have any super star power behind it and didn't do well in the box office.
But I watched the film several times over the years and there's something about the film that has that "Star Trek: The Next Generation" holodeck vibe, the adventure of visiting other worlds in different eras and combining the sci-fi time travel, suspense and in the end, "THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR" is a thrilling story. I felt that Craig Bierko and Gretchen Mol did a fine job with portraying multiple characters and their mannerisms. But It's just that with a small budget, there is only so much you can do in terms of special effects.
But despite its shortcomings, "THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR" is one of those films that is worth giving a chance and who knows, you may enjoy it. I certainly did. And as for the audiophiles, this film will definitely be a pleasuring auditory experience.