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Avalon
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Reviews & Ratings for
Avalon More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Something that certainly needs more attention

10/10
Author: minusfront (other.side@siol.net) from fairytale
5 May 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Although I'm a great fiction-movie fan, I was never touched on such a scale by any movie before. Before this, I didn't know much about asian (japanese) movies, but Avalon strikes me with a full force.

First, in a very general way, there's its pure beauty, in every possible way. Music (especially main orchestral theme, which has a potential to become a kind of an anthem). Kind of "old-school" cinematography with beautiful washed-out, ancient look and colors, which is combined with smartly used "understated" CG and special effects which morph into the whole (especially "time-slicing" in intro scene, and sequence with a hunt with a little girl). Great light and contrasts, there was again a mark of genius,

(WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILER!!!), a break when movie transforms into more "real" form, in full-color technique, at the same time the great twist in the story takes place. (END OF SPOILER).

Second, the remarkable feeling of emotions that runs along the whole movie. I think Avalon wouldn't be half as good if it hadn't been slow-paced (necessary to have time to FEEL those emotions), then an exotic combination of japanese-movie-made-in-Poland-with-polish-actors-and-language, and remarkably calculated pace. I agree, it is not a movie for everyone. But it is also at least 5 years ahead of the others. I must mention that japanese and other asian movie industry is already ahead of Hollywood, where only budget matters. And the possibility how asian culture, which is quite different from western, makes better results on this level. Maybe that's just because of that difference. Beware!

POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD!!! And another great value of Avalon is in its story, which includes a VR game. (END OF SPOILER).

It reminds us it is not far away a time when it would become possible to interact with animated characters/objects with no difference between reality and artificial world. It already happens on a smaller scale, with state-of-the-art videogames. I am personally fan of adult-oriented horror genre (I must mention excellent Silent Hill series, which I strongly recommend to anyone who'd try a feeling of "interactive movie" as much as it is possible). And I might not agree with many that the results would be always negative.

Shortly, Avalon is a breathtaking combination/fusion of classic movie, CG, special effects, storyline, contrasts (old/new, darkness/light, monotone/colors) and general experience in feelings. This is a unique movie and not comparable with anything, even The Matrix. THIS IS STATE OF THE ART. I only think The Matrix should be made like Avalon. But we already have Avalon, lucky us. And We Want More!

So one day when you are in a good mood, on a nice stormy summer night, sit on your favorite sofa, relax, turn off the lights, turn on the volume and enter the most beautiful world of reality and fantasy ever made. If you'll not fully enjoy it the first time... then maybe the 7th!

(pure 10/10)

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A Surreal Experience.. that's for sure

Author: (XiberWiz)
4 March 2003

A movie I have been dying to see for a long time. As soon as I finally got hold of it I was kind of haunted by some of the comments posted here at imdb. This actually helped me lower my expectations level a bit and I decided to judge the movie rather on my own.

And I was not disappointed. For one thing I loved the surreal feel of the movie. Dialogues were minimum and used only when necessary. The scenes captured by the camera were nothing short of a piece of art, simply exquisite cinematography. The music of the movie is great which adds up to the experience of the movie. The movie might be slow as some people pointed out but it never lags. The story keeps you on your toes. Many times I felt that I had the movie figured out only to find another twist that would keep me in the realms of the obscured. I appreciated Poland even more as this coincided with my experiences when I was in Moscow. Brought back some old memories.

The movie challenges the thin line we call reality and gives it a whole new definition. Our beloved "Ash" played excellently by Malgorzata Foremniak throughout the movie remains a murky character herself which adds well to the phantasmagoric experience of the movie.

A movie definitely worth watching but not for the impatient ones. But I fear that this movie would always be underrated and from some of the comments posted here my suspicions are kind of verified.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Superb movie

10/10
Author: Stainless_Steel_Rat from London, England
27 February 2003

Avalon is set an undefined amount of time in the future, when the world (as we see it) seems pretty awful, with people dressed drably, in drab surroundings, and somewhat struggling to survive.

Some people within this world are playing virtual reality games for money, including the main character followed throughout the movie, Ash. Ash now plays solo, rather than as a group, and has ascended to what appears to be the highest level within the game, Class A. The story initially involves Ash being drawn to a member of her old party, the Wizards, and unfolds from here.

For me, the film has an incredible and original feel to it. Most of the sequences in both the real and virtual world have been colourised giving almost a virtual feel to the washed out world they live in. The virtual reality sequences, although filmed in live action, are again extremely well done and involve clever and original use of CGI. Ash, played by Malgorzata Foremniak, was an extremely good lead and played a difficult part which was physical and involved little dialogue. The other characters are also well played. The score, by Kenji Kawai, is also generally well done. Some of the score felt a little "cheap" in places, but this obviously was not a high budget movie.

All in all this was a classic movie for me. Original, well acted, directed, and supported by both FX and a good score. 5/5

(I watched the Polish language version with English subtitles)

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Not for those seeking a hollywood blockbuster

8/10
Author: Tina from UK
15 January 2003

Probably another comment to many, but I loved this film. I think everything about it was beautiful from the dark reality in which the main character lives to the music (which I notice some users didn't seem to appreciate) to the total baffled confusion I felt when I came out of the cinema.

I'm not a hardcore anime fan like many people who seem to have watched this film are so perhaps that was why my head was reeling, or perhaps that is the intent of anime films. (I have seen Akira and Evangelion, both of which I think were highly condensed from their original manga cartoons hence why I was left confused after seeing those?)

The first half of the film is very slow paced, but despite criticsms, I think that the slow pace is justly and wisely used as it reflects the monotony of the films reality. There is a definite sluggish feel, yet at the same time I was left in awe at the cinematics and the fantastic skies created from the film's choice of tone. While attacks on the poor plot again are unjust. This is not supposed to be a clever murder mystery or action thriller, it's very speculative and it very artistically depicts the heroines search for something more in life.

Others have probably made better comments than I, but I couldn't resist at least trying to express some of the awe and amazement I feel for the brilliance of this movie.

This is not a film for the faint-hearted and those with a short attention span.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

visionary, but not for everyone

9/10
Author: Ambroise Dupuis from Brussels, Belgium
9 January 2003

I heard lot of thing before my first screening of Avalon, mostly that it was long, lacked action sequences, and most of all it was boring.

Fortunately, I wanted to see it by myself, I was far from disapointed, indeed I consider this a masterpiece.

The subject is about this border between reality and virtuality and about a player mixing the reality of his life and the reality of a videogame. I won't spoil the movie here but I can tell you than more than once I doubted about the perception of reality.

Aestetically, this movie is bluffing, really, far from the today standards, really innovative. The soundtrack is also quite different from what you've heard before.

But I understand poeple who didn't like this movie: it is quite confusing, it uses lots of long and quite sequences to make you feel how boring the "physical" existence can be, as opposed as the "virtual hero" a player can be, respected by all.

This movie is not entertainment, it is a vision, and a very convincing one too.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

amazing

10/10
Author: anafarta from Toronto
29 December 2002

The first time I saw director Mamrou Oshii's Ghost in the Shell, I thought, "is it possible to create the same effect with a live action feature?" and immediately concluded that it was not possible. There probably was something essential to the lines and colors and actions of the anime genre which an actual movie lacked. I am proven wrong by Avalon. Avalon goes even beyond Ghost in the Shell in pulling the viewer into this weird but strangely familiar world of virtual reality and suggesting that there are 'different layers of 'the real'. The idea that what we call 'real' is only one of the many layers of existence is brilliantly visualized in the film with the scene in which the main character (player) enters into this game level called 'class real' where the playground looks exactly like our world. The other players in this level are described as "neutral agents acting on free will." I must add that the use of Polish actors and Warsaw as the setting helps a great deal in sidestepping the cliches of this kind of story and genre... amazing... 10 out of 10

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Questions with a great soundtrack

8/10
Author: lomenoldur from Oxford, UK
10 December 2002

Avalon is not your average Hollywood movie. In fact, it is quite off any average. Although it appears to contain a lot of action (fighting _is_ the essence in the virtual world of the computer war game 'Avalon') the story itself unfolds in the quiet moments in between. The atmosphere is dense and foreboding. Muting all colours and adapting the colours of the reality to the amber-black and white of the computer screen creates a strong feeling of detachment from the world. And thus provoking the questions of 'who am I?' and 'what is my reality?'

The pseudo-classical soundtrack by Kenji Kawai is simply magnificient and powerful. It adds another dimension to the film and carries many of the emotions that are half-expressed or hidden on the screen.

As others have written don't expect easy answers. Rather take someone else with you to see the film and talk afterwards.

All in all, 8/10 (but perhaps this increases when I see it again).

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

If you are stupid DON'T see it!

10/10
Author: gisela-2 from Paris, France
27 October 2002

I've read the other comments and I really think that movies like this one are not for stupid minds. So, if your brain still works, and if you don't swallow Hollywood films, then you'll enjoy this film. OK, you won't understand it, who cares? that will make you USE YOUR BRAIN and THINK. About the music, it's wonderful, really beautiful. Of course if you like Heavy Metal and Rock & Roll, please don't see this movie, we don't need your comments if they are bad! I would say that this mix of Japanese creation and a Polish team is really excellent. Worth seeing!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"Welcome to the Real world"

9/10
Author: Stephen Christie from sheffield, england
21 June 2002

This sepia dreamlike state of Avalon is the nearest we are going to get to Anime, on the cinema screen. Oh it's like the Matrix, only clever! Existenz used the plot device of the virtual Game world first, true but symbolism and ambiguity don't make a great film. Except maybe in this case, bias to the world of anime, Yes. Hate Hollywood, not really, i just dislike the majority of the cliche tripe that it produces. But here Oshii has created a film that is for once accessable to a western audience, it is simple and conventional and you don't need a degree in microtechnology to understand the techno-garble. The boundaries of reality and the game blur to a conclusion that is no Spacey is Keyser Soze, but is wholly satisfying in it's familiarity. Avalon is visually stunning, and bleak in its Orwellian vision of technology and it's power of control. but what is more important is that it is visually interesting and original. (Attack of the clones, someone watched Blade Runner, Fifth Element and Gladiator the day before his script was due) Ash, our hero has no real life outside of the game. She exists to be the best at Avalon, a computer generated war simulation, that has made her wealthy in comprasion to the oppressed masses. Poland is a great setting and displays the poverty and desperation of the scenerio. This a bleak reality devoid of colour. the film is full of mythology, technology, Osmii has created a weird hybrid that still feels like a nature exstention of his animated classics Patlabor and Ghost in the Shell. Iconography is characteristic of Osmii, the slow motion bullet fire, techno-garble, femme fatale heroine and long musical montages set to orchestral pieces.

Oshii is a film maker who knows how to construct a scene, on the screen through visuals, he is not an MTV quick editing junkie. Avalon is slow, but that is it's beauty. It has a sense of history, it knows what medium it is working in, it is a film unlike Hollywood's recent pop video approach to film making. The Brown's of Avalon are our future, bleak but at least they have soul.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Another masterpiece from Mamoru Oshii

8/10
Author: Sentinel-15 from Antwerp, Belgium
8 June 2002

I absolutely *love* this movie. Every frame is like a work of art. While the (allmost) monochromatic cinematography may put some people off, the soundtrack by Kenji Kawai is a masterpiece by itself.

Reportedly, Malgorzata Foremniak, the film lead actress, was cast because she looked like Motoko Kusanagi, who was the main character in Oshii's 1995 anime masterpiece, "Ghost in The Shell"...

And she does! She performs greatly, BTW, and makes one wonder what GiTS would have looked like as a live-action feature film.

Don't expect easy answers here. Don't expect answers at all, for that matter. Sometimes, the questions are all that matters.

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