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|Index||144 reviews in total|
I've watched this film a few times now and the end remains confusing, and I've come to the conclusion that this is quite deliberate. Visually stunning, cerebral, and richly rewarding, this film is best considered as a comment rather than a story, an examination of the blurring boundaries between the world we live in and the world we create for ourselves. Essentially, 'Avalon' is an essay on the nature of reality, designed to provoke questions rather than answer them, packaged beautifully as a deep, compelling, and highly innovative film. If you're looking for some explosion filled escapism, you should probably leave this film on the shelf. On the other hand, if you want your movies to engage and stimulate you, and you enjoy beautiful cinematography, then 'Avalon' will not disappoint.
Oh, gosh, if you are an MMORPGer, (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Gamer)you MUST see this film. The film captures why we game. Why people lose jobs, families, and money over gaming. Why people choose their addictions and escapism over reality. The movie is astonishing. But only if you're a gamer. Otherwise, the movie will seem somewhat meaningless to you. The controversy rages in the forums "worst movie I've ever seen", "best movie ever". The movie is subtle and apparently has many many levels of interpretation. This is not an action flick. It's a movie for those who want to think deeply. IMDb asks for movies that this is similar to. That's difficult. I can't think of anything. Lars von Trier's "Breaking the Waves" perhaps, or "Dancer in the Dark". These movies both deal with the fine line between reality and fantasy, escapism and realism.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Toward the beginning of the movie, I was a bit disappointed-- it moved
slow and I wasn't sure where it was going. But I persevered to the end,
and it was worth it.
This movie is an existential examination of reality and individuals' preferences-- a more serious study of reality than the Matrix, and so it follows that it isn't quite as entertaining as the Matrix.
Admittedly, Ash was the reason I stayed with the film-- she has a beautiful, haunted appearance throughout. It also helped that the music/soundtrack for the film is exquisitely ethereal! The biggest shock in the film is midway 2/3 way through when the whole environment changes. Up until this point, colors have been severely washed out, almost nonexistent, giving us the sense of a very spartan, utilitarian world. Then when Ash steps into Level Real, we are all of a sudden in the modern, colorful world that we're all used to. The director did an excellent job with this shocking transition.
I applaud the director for leaving some unknown at the end when we don't see what Ash is going to do-- stay in Level Real or go back...
What happens when you combine mystical Japanese computer art with a brooding Polish mythology that no matter how creative you are, your lives are controlled by others. An interesting story that has just enough clues to make it possible to follow, but with a few surprises and a few unanswered questions. But the best part of this movie is the music of Kenji Kawai that has a life of its own and will keep you rewinding the credits to hear it again and again. It appears that the Warsaw Philharmonic Symjphony Orchestra played much of the background music, and the quality is stunning. There is much to criticize in this film too, as there are too many unanswered questions left to the imagination of the viewer. When do we leave the game and reenter reality, or is reality the game, and Avalon is the only way to find a world worth exploring. And how can the main character go on for days without eating? Welcome to Avalon.
OK, maybe it's because I'm actually Polish, so I understand the language
have actually seen the places shown in the movie. But anyway, I can't
find anything to defend Avalon. Horrible, horrible, horrible acting kept
distracting me all the time. It's a good thing they don't speak much in
movie, and I'm not even going to mention that Ash'es face looks exactly
same no matter what she's doing. Oh well, I just did. It's probably better
for people who don't understand the language, maybe it sounds foreign and
sophisticated, and people believe that it's the translation that makes
dialogue sound shallow. Trust me, translation is actually helping most of
Stunning visuals? I'm not so sure. For me the visuals were actually pretty artificial, with that annoying postcard-type sky. Also, having to watch the same scenes over and over again was pretty tiring as well. Would it hurt so much to shoot at some other locations as well? I liked the urban shots, but after some time I really, really wanted to see something new.
The story is pretty thin, almost to the point of non-existence. We don't find out anything about the "basic" reality, why exactly Ash wants to go to Special A, and so on. I think those who think this movie was sophisticated have simply created their own story, themselves. I mean, it's one thing if a movie makes you think, another if you have to write the story yourself to make any sense of what's happening on the screen. Avalon's story is so generic that you can give it pretty much any meaning, background and motivation you want. Maybe that's what people like in this movie. For me watching it was a rather painful experience at times (did I mention bad acting?). It's not your average Hollywood movie, but it doesn't make it a good one. An interesting experience, but still, I wouldn't necessarily want to repeat it.
An interesting ambiguous story which is smart and subtle enough for you to
still be thinking about at the end and might want to watch a second time -
though, it is not tautly enough paced for that, instead it has pauses for
you to think things through twice as you go along. If you are used to
watching Japanese drama you will realize this is actually a compromise,
somewhat faster than usual. Probably that is because the actors are Polish,
and so the director just could not get them to work at the glacial
emotion-nuanced Japanese pace. Net result, just relax, use the time to
think things over, and most western viewers can get into
Some folks complain about the repetition in places. I don't want to spoil the story, but they've failed to understand something important. Think about what is repeated, and what is not. Oshii's normal genre is detective mysteries and you should not be surprised that he uses every aspect of the film to supply cues and clues.
And no it is neither the stupendous eye candy of Matrix nor, thankfully, the grandiose and stupid premise and dialogue of the Matrix. They are both stories about metareality but Avalon is more of a puzzle, less of a "blockbuster". The special effects are on a modest budget, competent and quite adequate to carry the story. Other than the interest in metarealities, there are no similarities.
The actors do a fine job. Only Ash has much script to work with, the other characters are pretty much ciphers.
The DVD is anamorphic, of good quality - especially when you reach the S-A scenes you can see the pictures are wonderful. So, don't adjust your set earlier on, the picture qualities you see are quite deliberate and part of the story. The dialog in Polish is clearly somewhat different from the English subtitles but the fragments I could understand matched up in essence, so it all works ok. The music track is rather muted. Some folks rave about the music but it is kept distant, unreachable - I suppose that is deliberate too.
There are two extras. A moderately interesting and mercifully brief description of the special effects techniques. And an almost disturbing interview with Oshii who seems not to be in the same reality as us - or at least me - already. The translation is loosely synched with his rambling japanese but the meaning is correctly carried over.
Great job! The director managed to create a superb atmosphere. Good music and a lot of beautiful silences. The movie is low-budget but that is not really visible, they did a good job with the special effect and animations. Great movie if you like your movies mysterious!
Although not a terribly original story (see other review's movie list) Avalon has many positives that make me want to see it again. The cinematography is beautiful- most of the film is monochromatic and contrasty with very well blocked scenes. The acting is very solid. The soundtrack is astounding as with other Kenji Kawai works. The effects range from amazing to 'not too distracting', but most are on par or above. My only major dislike was the terrible editing (most notable in the first hour) which stole much of the energy and emotional impact from many scenes. (I hope when Miramax release Avalon in the US they re-edit it.) Personal, minor dislikes: the sound effects were a little tinny, and the choice of music track from Kawai's (very powerful) score matched up with some scenes left me scratching my head a couple of times. Overall though a beautiful, entertaining film worth watching (esp. if you like Ghost in the Shell or play UT or QA).
I thought the film was great looking, but a little slow. There are so many subtle details that you miss watching the first time. Also, it's a good idea to know some Arthurian legend before you see this film, because the story is closely based on the legend. There are alot of references to the legend that I didn't get. It's not going to blow your socks off, but it's a good film for the computer gamers out there.
Consider that there are many movies that earn praise for their style and presentation where content might otherwise lack. This is ironically a visually alluring film even though it is through sepia tones. The music is great. The faux operetta 'Avalon' reminds me of Hans Zimmer's aria in Hannibal. For anyone who enjoys the Dystopia genre (Bladerunner, 1984, Fahrenheit 451 etc.) this will be a contemporary addition. For those who were disappointed; you were expecting the wrong kind of movie.
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