Customer Review

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled, May 21, 2005
This review is from: Avalon (DVD)
The near future: Some young people deal with their disillusionment by participating in an illegal virtual reality war game. Its simulated thrills and deaths are compulsive and addictive. Some players, working in teams called “parties” even earn their living from the game. The game is named after the legendary island where the souls of departed heroes come to rest: Avalon. For Ash, an expert player, only 3 levels are left in order for her to conquer the game. She usually plays solo but this time she knows she will need a partner because the levels are bound to get harder and harder…

Sounds like a blast right? A wet dream come true for sci-fi and cyberpunk fans? So I thought but Avalon is nothing but one big snooze, a movie deceivingly packaged as something it’s not. It started off on the right foot, with an intense 10-minute action sequence showing Ash blasting her way through one of the levels of the game. After that it’s all downhill. Between the first 10 minutes of action and the final 10 minutes of action, the movie veers towards emotionalism and existentialism that is not in the least interesting, the whole film moving at a snail’s pace. Ok, so maybe Avalon was intentionally not meant to be a fast-paced action film but rather a character study about one of its players. Problem is, Ash is not in the least bit an interesting character. She is a withdrawn person who spends the whole time moping, feeling depressed and feeling sorry for herself. We are never really told why she is such an unhappy person or where her single-minded obsession for the game originated from.

It’s too bad because if it had been done right, Avalon could have succeeded, it does have a few good things going for it. In true cyberpunk fashion, the city is presented to us, convincingly, as a bleak and fascist place. When Ash does strap on to that reclining chair and puts on her game helmet (in a scene directly lifted out of The Matrix, which itself lifted the scene directly off Ghost in the Shell) the images are striking. The game levels are a dream-like visual feast of decayed walled cities and those sets just brim with desolation and atmosphere. But as I mentioned previously the first 10 minutes are like that, the last 10 minutes are like that and the rest is an insomnia cure about poor old pouting Ash.

Don’t let the plot summary or box packaging fool you. This film is not a virtual reality adventure. It’s a joke. It’s such a shame too because I really love this type of movie. But beyond The Matrix and David Cronenberg’s Existenz I haven’t seen too many other VR sci-fi films that impressed me. If you know of any other good ones please e-mail me and let me know.
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