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From Mamoru Oshii, the acclaimed director of GHOST IN THE SHELL, AVALON is a mesmerizing sci-fi thriller with explosive action and state-of-the-art visual effects in the stunning style of THE MATRIX! In the not-so-distant future, desperate young people risk everything to play "Avalon" -- an illegal and potentially lethal virtual war game where addicted combatants earn points and wealth. For one of the games greatest warriors, the "noble soldier" Ash, the search for Avalons legendary game stage Class Real will either lead to an entirely higher level of existence -- or be a journey from which she will never return! With awe-inspiring visuals and an intriguing futuristic story, lose yourself in the excitement of this amazing cinematic adventure!
Occupying a hazardous fantasy war zone located somewhere between David Cronenberg's eXistenZ and the Matrix trilogy, Mamoru Oshii's Avalon is a must-see entry in the subgenre of virtual-reality thrillers. Combining live-action set in a dystopian near future (filmed in Poland) and digital imagery set within a state-sponsored virtual combat game called Avalon, this sluggishly paced but visually dazzling film is another brain-teaser from the director of Ghost in the Shell. The action focuses on a maverick Avalon ace named Ash (played by the lovely Polish actress Malgorzata Foremniak) who advances to the game's highest and most mysterious level, "Class Real," a virtual world so authentically convincing that some--called "the Unreturned"--choose never to leave it. As with the Matrix trilogy, Avalon is more intriguing in premise than execution, filled with hushed tones and heavy-handed portent. Still, the amber-hued ruins of Oshii's virtual landscape are oddly alluring as a means of escape--a warning from Oshii, perhaps, that even the most exciting virtual reality is a trap that can prove deadly to those who fall into it willingly. --Jeff Shannon
- Special effect featurette
- Interview with director Mamoru Oshii
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There is no sex or nudity involved and the violence is very conservative. Not even close to "Saving Private Ryan" status. Though, it's pretty clean in those regards, I will say this, I would not recommend this to kids and early teens because this is a heavily thematic/intellectual film...an art film. It's very heavy and intellectual. It requires active thought and is not a film you can just "pop in while munching on popcorn". Philosophy majors could get a kick out of it though, unless they were more focused on Virtue Ethics.
This is by no means an action flick...even with it's few action sequences, those are even tame...but perhaps it's to help capture more of the mundaneness of a video game addicted society. Anyways, I'm sure you've got enough of the plot from other reviews and the product synopsis. It's pretty accurate. The film is beautifully rendered and the cinematics are stunning and awe-inspiring. The symbolisms and how they are executed are also beautiful. So, why do I rate it a 3 star?
The simple answer is that this film was not to my taste. It's definitely worth a watch and discussion over, but as a film I do not think it's Mamoru Oshi's strongest. Ultimately, it didn't seem very captivating. There is a plot, but again, the plot is not what it's about...more of the symbolisms used. I'm a narrative driven film viewer. I have a stronger affinity to music, and thus music meant more as "art pieces" (such as John Cage's work) I can appreciate and find engaging...though not always agree, albeit even dislike haha. So I do have a little parallel understanding about what draws people to "art films" and the non-mainstream...albeit some I do like, such as "Linda Linda Linda". But anyways, Mamoru Oshi is known for his other works such as Patlabor, Ghost in a Shell, and Jin Roh.
(from this point on, I'm using "Art" very specifically to mean something intellectually heavy and not meant particularly to be a mainstream entertainment vehicle...i know this is not the best definition, but it's the best place to start.)
The "Patlabor" tv series was a set that focused more on entertaining with hints and injections of heavier and serious themes. The "Patlabor" movies were more artistic/intellectually focused with hints of entertainment. "Ghost in a Shell" had a balance between what can entertain and what is artistic...and it's a strong balance, not a compromised balance. And Jin-Roh was a brilliant artistic/intellectual take on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood...that had such a strong narrative behind it you sometimes forgot it was more an art piece than anything else. "Avalon", to me seemed lacking in substance...maybe it's bleek atmosphere was part of the message.
ALL IN ALL:
Again, I am no film connoisseur and therefore am probably missing some of the finer points of "Avalon" that other people find tantalizing. I prefer watching a powerful narrative or a beautifully rendered slice-of-life with good character development...but I didn't find either one here. I apologize that I'm not really helpful in the content department of this this film. But one thing I can say is that this film does raise interesting questions, but is open ended. It is beautiful, but you are more watching a painting than a film. It's symbolisms are profound, and yet subtle. But it didn't do much for me. I believe that art and entertainment can be blended...after all, it is said that one of the best ways to teach is through story and example (which is still narrative)...this was too much pure art and hopeless mundanity for me.
It's a "bladerunner" for BOTS i believe, Ash, and all the characters in the film are BOTS. Their real world is part of the game, avalon, designed so that the bots think they are real and therefore when they play the game, they act more realisticly for the real players.
Some of the bots in the game who are getting destoyed are probably the real players of the game, but from the bots perspective they are bots. The whole thing makes perfect sense from this angle, explains the oddities, characteristics and cold nature of the characters and their askewed "real" world. This is why they are drawn to the reality of the game and also the hidden reality level that 'Murphy' is in; this extra-class A world is in fact an "upgraded" world or "mod", mayby still in development as the newest installment of the game world.
So it's a moral question of the more realistic BOTS get in a game the more they want to be real According to this film, they do, as they are all searching and playing for a more real experience, the better the simulation the more real they feel. That is why Murphy won't go back but he seems to think that the new level is his real home, when Ash kills him i think she realises that she is a bot.
So fascinating to watch when you are clued into the real story but can an edgy 5 as hard to enjoy the film off the bat as much as it should be, since story is presented as an un-answered brainteaser. I really like the subtle/atmospheric story telling syle, is like anime in that way, but would of been good if there was some kind of extra that explained the story properly.
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A low budget Polish (with awful acting) flick intended for 'street audience'.
First of all it's desperately trying to be "Matrix" in style.Read more
Players don't even recognize that a disc was in the machine