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The Thirteenth Floor More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Going for a drive may never be the same again.

Author: onetoten from Canada
3 December 2009

This was one of those sci-fi thrillers that I never heard about until it was on cable. When this film started I had no idea where it was going. There were no cartoon heroes or car chases but a cleverly plotted narrative that keeps your mind and imagination at work.

Some film fall apart when a romantic coupling doesn't work. Craig Bierko and Grethen Mol had the justifiable chemistry needed to move the story. It gets tiring to see the same actors in romantic parts. I didn't feel the story pushing me to believe anything in this film because the plot itself worked.

All the actors in this film were first-rate. The set decorations were stunning and the special effects didn't detract from the plot. If you see this film listed in your area's media I highly recommend it.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Hamlet within Hamlet

Author: gil-bedard from Winnipeg, Canada
23 November 2002

Life is demanding, unless you're independently wealthy, or retired, or living on a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific. Most of us gotta make a buck. So, if you're a movie critic with deadlines to meet, time is a precious commodity. Therefore, it seems to me that professional movie critics probably don't spend as much time reviewing some movies as they should. Most movies are easily understood & enjoyed during one sitting. I'm thinking here of comedies, romance movies, action movies, etc. However, certain movies--mostly of the science-fiction genre--require slow digestion. Mental incubation is necessary to appreciate these movies. "The Thirteenth Floor" is one such movie. As I scroll down the rottentomatoes reviews, it is evident to me that most critics probably didn't spend enough time watching it. One critic crows: "This is a film about deeply confused people that seems likely to put viewers in a state of deep confusion for most of its running time." Another opins: "As compelling as a knock-knock joke." Yeesh. It makes me wonder if these pundits actually watched the bloody thing. One gets the impression that while watching it, they had their thumbs poised over the fast-forward button. (Those damned deadlines, you know.) In any event, keep in mind the Irish playwright Brendan Behan's wry observation: "Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it's done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves."

Now, I'm not a simple-minded guy, I hope. But I found that I appreciated this movie more after having watched it a second, and then a third time. I agree that at first blush, it is superficially confusing. (Geez, if you want a no-brainer, watch an Abbott & Costello movie.) This movie is for a thinking man... WHOOPS!! Er, make that a "thinking person". In fact, I consider it one of the best sci-fi movies I've ever seen. It is very stylish, well-acted & well-written. Much time & effort obviously went into recreating certain parts of 1937 California. The only serious problem I had with it was the loud, mechanical-sounding whirring noises & excessive laser lighting generated by the computer equipment. This was very implausible, 'though it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the movie.

Before watching this movie, I'd never heard of Craig Bierko. But I thought that as the protagonist, he was excellent. He seemed aloof at times, but I didn't think that this was a problem. And maybe this is what his role required of him. Armin Mueller-Stahl's acting career spans almost half a century, with over one hundred movies to his credit, according to IMDb. He is the consummate actor. Very dependable & a fine choice for the role of computer genius & mentor to Bierko's character. His heavy German accent seemed all the more appropriate. Gretchen Mol was also very credible, and she wasn't hard to look at, either. I thought the ever mercurial Vincent D'Onofrio was convincing (no pun intended) as a computer geek-cum-antagonist. It's hard to believe that he was the guy who played the psycho in "The Cell"! I mean, the guy is so adaptable.

I shall resist the temptation to describe the movie's structure, because I think it is often better to watch a movie with little or no foreknowledge of the plot details. For instance, I bought "The Thirteenth Floor" on a whim because I liked the DVD box cover & because the price was right. I suggest that if you are an aficionado of the sci-fi genre, just buy it, then watch it, and THEN check it out on the net. I will say that, to the unwashed, the plot of this movie is far-fetched in the extreme. However, some computer science theorists suggest that in the future, what is depicted in this movie would be possible. We are already developing quantum, quasi-biological computers, so who knows? Thank God I'll be dead before they arrive.

So, there you have this critic's opinions. If you like a good, stylish sci-fi movie, rent it. Or buy it. (I found it in a used CD/DVD store.) But WATCH it.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Wait a minute... it's not crap. What's going on?

Author: Leigh Loveday from UK
17 August 2000

I have to admit that after seeing the trailer for this film months ago, failing to notice any impact it might have had on the US box office then watching it stagger hopelessly straight onto the video shelves here in the UK, I ended up renting it in the hope that it might at least be bad enough to raise a laugh. But - shock horror - it's not. In fact it's a smart little film that deserves far better treatment than it's had so far.

It might not be exactly what you expect right from the word go, but that's not necessarily a bad thing: it's just that the film takes its time when it comes to introducing the sci-fi elements, so it's easy to feel cheated at first as basically the only people likely to see this film are genre fans. But things pick up quickly after the dull first half-hour of exposition and sketchy character introduction. There are enough twists and turns during the next hour to keep on redoubling your interest, and the cast holds up well: Craig Bierko (previously known to me only as Lister from the mercifully short-lived US Red Dwarf remake - poor bloke) is a surprisingly strong leading man, dealing as well as the rest of the cast (good old Vincent D'Onofrio in particular) with those multiple roles. The only real problem with the cast is that it's not even B-list. If the filmmakers had only had the budget to take on some better-known faces for the lead roles, this could have gone down a storm. Sad but true.

Yes, the storyline has been done before, but so has every other sci-fi storyline these days, and this one's easily different and polished enough to warrant a look - just prepare to be kept on your toes, as it's not the mindless crash-bang action cheese laser death cyborg kickboxing spectacular you might have been expecting.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A disappointment. Nice touch on early L.A.

Author: meadow-3 from Pacific Coast, America
8 January 2000

If you like cyber films, or time travel pieces, this one falls short.

Story line is inconsistent and lead actor isn't credible.

I saw "Thirteenth" at the theatre. Before "The Matrix".

So I was ripe for a fresh experience. And walked out unsatisfied.

The cinematography, however, is excellent. Traveling into old Los Angeles was enjoyable. I wish I'd spent more time there.

I can't put my finger on what didn't work. It's been months since I saw this film, and I'm not in a hurry to see it on video.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Flawless, unbelievable

Author: Ariel Guerra (web-534-393830) from Switzerland
20 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Praise to the excellent direction and screenplay to Josef Rusnak and team!

From magnificent Daniel F. Galouye's book "Simulacron 3"

The plot may look simple at first sight, the world has created a new world within, through the use of technology, but the story will lead us to an even unknown dimension that not even The Matrix would as clearly set as The Thirteenth Floor.

The music, rendering and camera angles just fit the standards (higher than the average though)

There's a thick and refined work in here where Gretchen Mol and Vincent D'Onofrio take most credit for a delighting performance.

Then the pace of the movie is, to my concern, dedicated to the complexity of the characters and the implications of a parallel life and even life after death, rather than tricky special effects. That's maybe why this film did not hit a wider audience?

More questioning reality on film making please, this planet needs this!

Definitely a film worth watching twice, keeping and cherishing.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Far better than Matrix

Author: IgBar from Russia
7 January 2012

I think that The thirteenth floor is far superior to Matrix. Actually, I almost walked away from the first of Wachowski's "masterpiece", so hollow and childish and CGI-ridden it seemed. The thirteenth floor has superb acting, great locations and touching music (especially in the scene when the "end of the world" is discovered by Doug). There is great chemistry between the main characters, and the dialogue is very believable and authentic all along. It is surprising that there are no plot holes in a relatively complex story. This movie is for adults, not for post-puberty greenhorns (that's Matrix' audience). No offense, it's just an opinion of a grown, experienced person.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Like the 1999 movie "Matrix," but with more levels to reality.

Author: VernonPope
12 June 2001

Very thought provoking, and leads you to wonder, "At what point does it stop so I can wake up?" I love how most of the actors play characters in more than one level of the reality, lending a dream-like sense of "deja-vu" to each new level.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Surprise ! Cleaner than the Matrix and in the end better

Author: sjavlord from Conflans, France
6 August 2000

Well, at first sight it looks like a common B-movie. But nice surprise ! The acting and directing is very clean, temperate. Special effects are just there to strengthen the plot, and that plot is damn' interesting. Descartes's quotation (I think Therefore I am) was very well chosen.

Of course this movie reminds the Matrix. But the story is better and the special FXs don't invade the screen as they do in the Matrix.

It seems that some people remember that a sci-fi movie does not just need tremendous effects. Good work guys, carry on.

My rating : 10/10

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Paper or Plastic?

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
5 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to admit that this one got beyond me from time to time so these are just some impressionistic shards.

It's about a software engineer (Craig Bierko) whose boss (Armin Mueller-Stahl) is murdered, sliced to pieces in fact, one night in Los Angeles. The police come to suspect him. Bierko feels that the clues to the recent murder lie in the past, in Muehler-Stahl's youth, in the Los Angeles of 1937. Mueller-Stahl has been working on a device that sends the user back in time and it's possible that he has been leading a double life, one in modern LA and the other in 1937 LA. When the subject's consciousness is transferred, it loses awareness of itself and assumes a different, time-specific identity that does not remember the future. Bierko has his friend and co-worker (Vincent D'Onofrio) send him back for two hours. (Anything more than one hour is dangerous.) The machine has a glitch or something and before you know it, there are several people switching back and forth from past to present. One of them is Gretchen Mol, which is nice.

It's all pretty jumble and confusing to me and seems mainly an excuse for magnificent displays of computer-generated images, bars of laser-light like, and all the expectable rest. Splendid production design, though, in both parallel worlds.

Mueller-Stahl is always reliable and Gretchen Mol is a beautiful young woman. Craig Bierko has a talent that seems made for TV. His performance is adequate but illustrates the limits of his range. George Clooney with a voice that squeaks when it expresses excitement. Very good performance by D'Onofrio with a face and demeanor that could go either way.

Have you seen the Los Angeles of 1937 in "Chinatown"? (If you haven't, then do so at once, I implore you.) It's all sunny and bright. Fewer cars, less smog. Fewer people, more orange groves and flowers. This 1937 Los Angeles is dark and wet, just like the Los Angeles of the present. Everything is dark. Even the offices of the software company are dark. I'll bet the surgical teams are performing laparotomies in total blackness. Well, maybe a candle or two. It's just a silly fad, this dark lighting.

In fact, considering that another movie about time travel and solving a murder was released about the same time, "Deja Vu" with Denzel Washington, I'm beginning to wonder if time travel to solve a murder isn't liable to become a craze in and of itself. It would be nice if it were a genuine possibility. I'd like to go back to 1937 Los Angeles myself, but only with my present consciousness intact, so I could buy up all the real estate and discover Lana Turner in Schwab's Drug Store.

Things being what they are, however, and being stuck in the present, I gave up on this about half-way through. It simply didn't seem interesting enough to hold my attention. They blew too many opportunities. For example, there ought to be multiple instances in which people are transported into the past and bump into different fashions of quotidian life. Isn't anyone surprised at the price of gas at the pump in 1937 Los Angeles? Where are the bottles of milk with the cream separated at the top? I'm listening to the climax now, from the other room, and it's full of the kind of gun shots that suggest the time-travel mystery has turned into a more familiar shoot 'em up, but in any case I doubt that the sun is shining, wherever and whenever the characters are.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A virtually dull reality

Author: Bogmeister from United States
22 July 2005

The 2nd 'virtual reality' thriller of the year (following The Matrix), this did not enjoy a fraction of the former's success, probably due to a lack of stars and poor marketing. The concept is great: what if we create an alternate reality through our use of computers and all the 'inhabitants' of this computer-reality, despite being just bits of data, consider themselves as real & valid as us? It all goes back to that old saying: I think; therefore, I am. This idea is then refurbished halfway through with a surprise revelation (though experienced film-goers will guess this about a third of the way in). But, somehow, the exciting ideas are not translated well thru the story. There is a hum-drum monotonous tone throughout and most of the actors kind of sleepwalk through their roles (Mol, especially, is completely lacking in any screen presence). The filmmakers also fail to fully develop the repercussions of these tantalizing, even mind-blowing concepts. After all, this all seems to point to some very dangerous aspects, philosophically, of our ever-growing technology. The dangerous potential is glossed over in the end, as if prepping for a sequel, which looks doubtful now. Armin Mueller-Stahl appears as the originator of the technology.

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