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3.5 out of 5 stars 301 customer reviews

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(Oct 19, 1999)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Exciting stars Jennifer Jason Leigh (DOLORES CLAIBORNE), Jude Law (GATTACA), and Willem Dafoe (SPEED 2, AFFLICTION) challenge the boundaries of reality in this futuristic, critically acclaimed adventure thriller! During the first closed-door demonstration of an amazing new virtual reality game called eXistenZ, the system's brilliant designer, Allegra Geller (Leigh), is violently attacked by a crazed assassin intent on killing her and destroying her creation! Forced to flee into hiding, Allegra enlists a young assistant (Law) to help her in testing the damaged system ... by convincing him to join her inside eXistenZ! The action then explodes as their world's real-life dangers begin to merge with the fantasy of the game! If you're ready to play, it's now your turn to plug into this powerfully entertaining hit!

Director David Cronenberg's eXistenZ is a stew of corporate espionage, virtual reality gaming, and thriller elements, marinated in Cronenberg's favorite Crock-Pot juices of technology, physiology, and sexual metaphor. Jennifer Jason Leigh is game designer Allegra Geller, responsible for the new state-of-the-art eXistenZ game system; along with PR newbie Ted Pikul (Jude Law), they take the beta version of the game for a test drive and are immersed in a dangerous alternate reality. The game isn't quite like PlayStation, though; it's a latexy pod made from the guts of mutant amphibians and plugs via an umbilical cord directly into the user's spinal column (through a BioPort). It powers up through the player's own nervous system and taps into the subconscious; with several players it networks their brains together. Geller and Pikul's adventures in the game reality uncover more espionage and an antigaming, proreality insurrection. The game world makes it increasingly difficult to discern between reality and the game, either through the game's perspective or the human's. More accessible than Crash, eXistenZ is a complicated sci-fi opus, often confusing, and with an ending that leaves itself wide open for a sequel. Fans of Cronenberg's work will recognize his recurring themes and will eat this up. Others will find its shallow characterizations and near-incomprehensible plot twists a little tedious. --Jerry Renshaw

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe, Don McKellar
  • Directors: David Cronenberg
  • Writers: David Cronenberg
  • Producers: David Cronenberg, Andras Hamori, Bradley Adams, Damon Bryant, Michael MacDonald
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Dimension
  • DVD Release Date: October 19, 1999
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (301 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000K31V
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,526 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "eXistenZ" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Although eXistenZ came out around the same time as The Matrix, it seems to be a response to that film. Where The Matrix gave you a digital divide between reality and virtual reality, eXistenZ takes place in the gray area between.
But it's not a PK Dick rehash. Cronenberg spends as much time on the characters and their motives as he does on pseudo-intellectual questions of reality. (The film is also a humorous spoof of computer-game devotees.) Although there are a lot of scenes that lay flat --- instead of moving the plot forward --- the actors are so good, everything is easy to watch. Willem Dafoe is charming and scary as Gas, and Jude Law plays a pitch-perfect resourceful sidekick to Jennifer Jason Leigh. (You also have to hand it to Cronenberg for making the central character female without making her a damsel in distress or an masculine action heroine.)
This is a low-key but excellent movie. It's the kind of film you can enjoy over and over, picking up new bits of detail every time. It's not for everyone, of course. Cronenberg can repel some viewers with gooey special effects and psychological drama. But I think it's one of his best films, and certainly one of the best in 1999.
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Format: DVD
Your perception may be altered by this science fiction harbinger of things to come by David Cronenberg.. Continuing in the same vein of films like 'Videodrome' and 'Scanners' Cronenberg examines the effects of scientific progress and the fate of mankind.. It is so often the goal of game technicians, movie makers, and perhaps even the distributors of mind altering substances to create an alternate universe.. the nightmare of such endeavors is that it will lead to absolute confusion.. seperation from self.. it is something appealing yet terrifying.. to lose touch with reality.. this is what makes eXistenZ such an engaging thriller - one of the most thought provoking movies you will ever see.
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Format: DVD
I truly feel sorry for anyone who was turned away from this movie by Ambrose's review (Although I doubt any intellegent human being would be). Maybe using spell check for your review and actually paying attention to the movie might make your review a little more credible. Anyway, "eXistenZ" is in my opinion Cronenberg's best film to date. This film is NOT for the typical movie watcher. For The life of me I can't figure out why everyone likes to see movies where you can just sit passively for an hour and a half and not think or learn anything. Just throw in Will Smith, some action, comedy, state of the art CG, and a little brief nudity and the general public will eat it up. "eXistenZ" is definitely not one of these movies. It really does "Make The Matrix Look Like Child's Play!" In fact, it blows all 3 Matrix's right out of the water. For anyone who liked "Videodrome" or "Naked Lunch" this film is not just a must see but a must own. My personal Favorite.
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By A Customer on October 22, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
With the exception of "The Dead Zone" this is the only other Cronenberg film I enjoyed, (and was able to stomach.)
Believe it or not, seeing a guy getting his face blown in half by a gun firing human teeth and people porting into a game system that looks like a bizarre fleshy body part is rather tame for Cronenberg. Certainly a lot easier to watch than the flesh-eating puke in "The Fly" or drinking fluid out of a fleshy straw on a large bug's head in "Naked Lunch".
One of the reasons I enjoyed this film was it reminded of the mind-bending plot twists of a really good Philip K. Dick story. By the film's end you have no idea what, if anything, is real and not just a game.
Some reviewers found the performances very weak. But often, this is done deliberately: one character named D'arcy Nader is played so cartoonishly that the main character, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, comments on how lousy his dialogue and accent were. Personally, I thought the two lead performances were very good. Leigh gives this picture her all playing a sexy game designer whose whole life revolves around this virtual world she has created. Jude Law is also very good, especially his humorous reactions to all the weird stuff that happens around him.
This picture is particulalrly entertaining if you've ever played a role-playing computer and are familiar with the "game loop" that computer characters go into when you're not speaking to them.
The movie also makes a very strong comment on how video games have de-sensitized us. In one scene Jennifer Jason Leigh shoots a character dead just because she didn't like him, but then she can't figure out if she killed him for real or just in the game. a brilliant comment about seperating fantasy and reality.
This is a very well crafted, highly underrated movie. Possibly the most intriguing science-fiction film of the decade.
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Format: DVD
When I unearthed a bargain price VHS copy of "eXistenZ" I had no recollection of having even heard of the film. At that price and with a cast that included Sarah Polley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Ian Holm I figured, why not experiment? Unlike most of my video experiments I fell immediately into the story and really enjoyed the film. It is easy to watch and while Polley and Holm have small parts, Leigh is on screen for almost the entire film. Which is probably why she elected to do this instead of "Eyes Wide Shut". Her co-star is Jude Law in what I would rate his all-time best performance.

Although I was very impressed I don't recommend "eXistenZ" for everyone. It could be described as an anti-"Matrix". Not in an intentional sense since they were being made at the same time, but rather in their respective target audiences. So if you seek it out because you really liked "The Matrix", you may be disappointed.

It has a fairly narrow target audience and because of this it was not aggressively distributed in the U.S. and did much better in Europe. Generally those who really connected to "The Matrix" will find it insufficiently manipulative (requiring too much viewer self-analysis and participation) while those who hated "The Matrix" will hate it for being too manipulative. So if you found "Matrix" generally intriguing but did not go ga-gah over it, you should make it a point to check out "eXistenZ".

It is not really sci-fi or action adventure but a psychological thriller (just as "The Hole" is not a horror film but a psychological thriller). It places Kurt Vonnegut's theme "you are what you pretend to be so be careful what you pretend to be" into an allegorical tale of shifting reality. Do we ever actually exercise free will?
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