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In a future world, young people are increasingly becoming addicted to an illegal (and potentially deadly) battle simulation game called Avalon. When Ash, a star player, hears of rumors that a more advanced level of the game exists somewhere, she gives up her loner ways and joins a gang of explorers. Even if she finds the gateway to the next level, will she ever be able to come back to reality? Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
When Ash starts searching for The Nine Sisters, she enters some keywords and the results show up on the monitor of her computer. However, the reflection on her glasses doesn't match what happens on her screen. See more »
Is this what you wanted? For this you abandoned us all? To spend the rest of your life as a hollow shell in a hospital bed, staring at nothing?
How can you be so sure? Do I look like a hollow shell? Do I? Reality is only what we tell ourselves it is! That's all! I choose this one. I prefer this reality.
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This is a stunningly visual film which takes many of the best elements of the minor sub-genre of 1980s and 1990s sci-fi involving virtual reality, and blends them into an interesting story exploring social withdrawal, addiction, the nature of reality, and the value of life. The film does have a bit of new wave pretentiousness to it - using cliché hacker-names for the players of Avalon, etc, but no more so than many of its competitors (and a bit less than The Matrix). If this sort of thing doesn't appeal to you - and especially if you're the type who wants a film to simply entertain and tell you a simple story, don't bother to read any further.
The film uses a story-telling technique common in good literature but unfortunately under-used in film - that of intentional ambiguity. The best example of this is the main character - well played by Malgorzata Foremniak. You simply don't know what to make of "Ash". Though I found it easy to relate to this character, and I think I understand her, I am not sure most viewers will. In my opinion, Ash is best interpreted as a person with an iron-clad grip on reality, who nevertheless maintains a distance from the people around her, and prefers to keep her relationships "in-game". This is not at all an uncommon personality type, especially among women and mature males in the real worlds of virtual reality and on-line gaming.
The film focuses on Ash's ambitions to become the best player of Avalon
an ultra-real and sometimes deadly virtual reality game - in the
world. Avalon is illegal and run on LANs which are set up in what looks like futuristic crack houses. To become recognized as the best, Ash has to complete a level which tends to put anybody who enters it into a catatonic state. She comes to believe that an old team mate of hers - Murphy - inhabits that zone, and wants to rescue him. But of course the designers of the game have other plans, and maybe Murphy himself does as well. Foremniak does a great job of playing this ambiguous yet sympathetic character. Ash, the carefully developed script, the excellent soundtrack, and the superb and beautiful visual effects, all keep you guessing until the very end. I never knew what to expect from this film, and I was very pleased by the way it developed its own concepts of logic and justice - remaining centered on Ash throughout.
Avalon was interesting enough for a second and perhaps a third viewing. I will update my review (if needed) after my next round with it. For now, I will only give it a very high recommendation to anybody who has read this far. After all, if you've read this far in the review, you're probably interested enough in the film to see it.
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