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|Index||142 reviews in total|
It made me sleepy. The constant repetition of everything (scenes, music,
scenarios) made me very tired.
So tired in fact, that I fell asleep through most of the middle of the
The only point of the film that I truely appreciated was the opera, and
was ruined towards the end by bad editing during the opera house scenes.
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.
Ok, I saw many superb comments on this movie - but all of them came from
people who don't know polish language. I suppose that when you don't
understand what the characters are talking about, the impression is much
I know polish language and I know these actors. Most of them usually act
polish soap operas - and their acting in Avalon is as bad as in
From the other hand - the pictures are simply great. Cooperation between
polish cameraman and japanese manga director is superb in this movie.
in city of Wroclaw ("dark part") and Warsaw ("Avalon"), the movie shows
sides of Poland (indirectly, of course ;)).
Summarizing - if you don't speak polish you should watch the movie, this strange language will make it even more fascinating. If you actually do, then watch this specific pearl : japanese sf movie with polish cast and english subtitles :)
For me it's 5 but for non-polish speaking audience - 7.
Although made like a low budget film and a super slow pace which can be
a sore boredom, it is very surreal not just in a high form of art but
the hidden power of Avalon is it leaves a lot of food for thought.
Whether reality is what it seems or what is the real setting/situation
behind what can be seen in the eyes through this movie? What is
actually going on behind Ash's real character?
I am not even commenting on the music score or the wonderfully done surreal atmosphere generated in the game world.
The more you rewatch it, the more you think about it the more this movie offers many versions of interpretation. This is one of those films where you will get a different conclusion every time you re-watch it. A reminiscent of the directors' other films which are not what they appear to be, Avalon is meant to be made to reveal very minimal details to the audience, hence the slow pace and lack of solid 'plot line'.
In fact reviewers who feel so much criticism for it should refer to the fan forums online on this movie and you can see the enthusiasm from those reviewers on their versions and intepretations - really not many movies are able to do this. Brilliant!
If nothing else, Avalon is a visually striking movie, precisely for its
lack of visual appeal. Whether it's the desert hellscapes of the
virtual reality game the film centres around or the muted colours of
the "real world", everything seems oppressively drab. It's an
interesting bit of cinematography that makes it easy to understand how
a person living in this dire, vaguely post-apocalyptic but maybe just
contemporary city could turn to outlandish and violent fantasy.
The script is, unfortunately, a bit of a shambles. Characters have cryptic conversations about the past or vague philosophical ideas. Interesting concepts are introduced only to be tossed aside. The ending is a steady unfolding of Twilight Zone-esque twists. It's basically Oshii indulging in his worst habits, basset hound and all. But what really rankles is that, despite this being ostensibly a film about video games, Oshii doesn't seem to grasp the appeal of games or gamer culture at all.
Maybe there's a lot of stuff here I didn't get, or maybe a lot of important context got left on the cutting room floor. It's certainly an ambitious project, and not an entirely unsuccessful one. If nothing else it's nice to see Oshii exploring new ground with a live action film. But in the end this film just leaves me feeling as cold as its ambivalent and ambiguous protagonist.
(Also, apparently the English version -- dub and sub -- includes expository dialogue not in the original. Who does that?)
It looks like a live-action movie about anime, about Artificial
Reality, about Gaming and Society. Yes, this is Correct.
It Looks like a Movie about a Fictional Game played in a Fictional Dystopian Future. Yes. . .But mostly Not quite what you think.
It will NOT give the average viewer the usual Hollywood thriller blood 'n' guts Bang-Bang FPS shoot-em up.
Instead, the creators of this movie, which could NEVER have come out of Hollywood, are using the Artificial Reality/Game to pose a dramatic question. Some reviewers have called the plot/pace slow...No-- it's called 'Drama', folks. It's not a recorded screenshot of ADHD paced shoot-em-up gameplay foisted on us and called a Movie. It's a Movie that dares to call itself a Drama and pose a QUESTION about Gameplay. It's seems 'slow'-- because you are supposed to wonder what IS ACTUALLY happening.
Yes, it is about What is Artificial vs what is Real. But it does it with music, lighting, a play on color and a poetic sense.
If you are willing -and able- to sit back and take in this movie as a Dramatic Event instead of the expected Blam-Bang-Boom action flick, you will be surprisingly moved.
The Opening Theme at the beginning is stunning. The Musical Performance at the end is simply Beautiful.
Girl-Friend Test! If she sits thru the first hour and then can't stop watching...she's a keeper.
In the near future, many disillusioned people are addicted to virtual
reality games. Sexy cigarette-smoking Malgorzata Foremniak (as Ash) is
excellent at the popular war-game "Avalon" and gets paid to play. She
attracts new players and wants to increase her difficulty level. A
loner in real life, Ms. Foremniak once played with a team. She turned
solo when her Jerzy Gudejko (as Murphy) and playmates broke up under
mysterious circumstances. Their fate is an obsession, along with a
strange player who begins to stalk our heroine at play. The game is
illegal and strangely not much fun, but the cinematography by Grzegorz
Kedzierski is very nice. It might have been more effective to vary the
tones a little more between realities, although perhaps "Avalon" does.
The film is presented in sepia-like fashion until late in the game,
which may mean absolutely nothing...
***** Avalon (1/20/01) Mamoru Oshii ~ Malgorzata Foremniak, Jerzy Gudejko, Dariusz Biskupski, Bartek Swiderski
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A typical Mamoru Oshii style film. Slow, heavy handed but often
effective use of lens filters, dreary soundtrack, poor Foley work,
cinema noir poses and some art-house meanderings. The story is so so,
reasonably similar themes can be seen in a lot of work coming out of
japan these days. Virtual reality or online identity cross merging with
the real world. It is very anime in parts but I am not sure anime works
for live action. In anime you can forgive some of the stiffness or the
poor Foley but in live action it makes it feel a bit dead. A problem I
have with all Oshii's film.
The main actress is good. She does hold the film together. Not much is asked from her in terms of character development or script but she gives more than is on the written on the page and imbues the film with a feeling of lose, fading away, remorseful acceptance.
I liked the film. I enjoy the theme. I thought the CGI was done well and there were some nice shots. The metaphors are a bit much but that is to be expected with Oshii. Boo to me but I wish he'd make GITS 3.
SPOILER (NOT REALLY)
I very much did not like the last scene. The is a scene where an orchestra perform the theme of the film Avalon with cuts going between a conversation outside and the orchestra inside. This for me was the worst scene. The filming of the orchestra was very standard TV style with no use of creative lighting to reflect the colour of the music, no close-ups of any of the instruments, no style at all just bad TV. Then it was clumsily cut with the conversation outside which were meant to reflect the lyrics of the opera. I thought it was very poor. And I thought the dog in the car was just stupid.
"Avalon" follows in the tradition of movies based on a fictional video
game (named Avalon in this case). These tend to work better than films
based on real life video games. "Tron" and "eXistenZ" are two popular
movies to do the same tactic. But Oshii's "Avalon" deserves to be
The story follows a heroine, Ash (Malgorzata Foremniak), her gamer name, as she plays a virtual reality game for money in the near future. She plugs into the game by sitting in a dentist-like chair and pulling on a metal helmet (with wires dangling everywhere). The game rooms are in a decaying, back alley building because Avalon is officially illegal. She looks lifeless as she sits in the chair and seems exhausted when she awakes from playing.
Much of Mamoru Oshii's past work as a director was on mature anime films ("Ghost in the Shell" & "Ghost in the Shell 2 - Innocence"). "Avalon" breaks with his tradition and uses human actors, real tanks, and real city locations filmed on location in Poland. Some scenes and special effects are computer generated. But like "The Matrix", most of the movie takes place in a virtual game.
The game rules come to us in small bits of information. Here are some of the basics. At first, it looks like a war game in which she walks around shooting tanks, helicopters, and other players. But then we learn you can form teams with other players and fight missions to collect points. Game players have different classes: warrior (like Ash), thief, mage, and bishop. They get paid depending on how well they play. They also have to pay-to-play, and this restricts them in certain ways: we hear that Ash cannot switch to bishop class without playing so much she would run out of money.
Ash plays alone, for the most part, and she seems to make good money playing the game. She's one of the top players and makes enough to do it full time. Some characters she meets in the game are other players, and some are purely digital programs. Actually, the recent film, "Inception", has similar rules for dream worlds since you only have a chance of dying in a dream if you get lost in lower levels of them. You also don't die when you die in the game (in Avalon, too, that is), you just wake up. But you run the risk of becoming brain dead if you delve into the game too deeply. Sometimes players never awake and become vegetables. Ash is not afraid of the risk, however; she's cocky and courageous (or addicted).
Do previous game players who choose to stay there (and let their bodies go brain dead back on earth) die when they get killed in the game? Their body is unplugged and over at a hospital, but the projection of them still exists in the game. Some of them seem to think a game existence is important enough to choose to stay in the game forever. But what if Ash kills a previous player in one of her game missions? The choice of whether it's ethical to kill a previous player is quite complicated and depends on your definition of a person. Do game projections qualify when they float around in the game? Do they actually "die" if Ash shoots them? The plot moves along a bit faster when Ash hears about a secret level, and the ethical questions come to greater conflict. Usually the game is never-ending during typical play, but rumors spread that she might be able to beat the game or, at least, get a heck of a lot of experience points in a secret level. To get to the level, she has to find a ghost and shoot it, so she teams up with Bishop to get help.
Oshii first shot the film in full color, but then he digitized and edited it into mostly black and white. Some color remains, mixed in here and there by choice (the computer text is orange, a hologram is rainbow colored, and the end of the film is in full color).
It takes great care to get the director's vision on screen. But the long pauses for effect (as in "2001: A Space Odyssey" or "Solaris"), may annoy impatient viewers. For example, we hear a classical opera piece twice, almost all the way through both times. The first time the piece has subtitles and we get a montage about the city and game environment. The second time the song plays during the climax of Ash's secret level mission, perhaps the most exciting part of the movie. It slows down the movie at just the moment we want more information about the deeper levels of the game. It could give us a better look around, but it chooses artistic silence instead (which is commendable).
Where "The Matrix" ends the movie with bullets and martial arts, "Avalon" ends with dramatic music and meditative imagery. "Avalon" never went long without giving important information. But you might discount the information if you don't love intricate video games. Visually it's still well worth watching if you are in this situation. My only major complaint seems minor: Bartlomiej Swiderski (as Stunner) needs to learn some table manners since he eats like a dog! "Avalon" deserves more attention for its ideas. Like in "The Matrix" and "Inception", it asks whether virtual reality is better or worse than reality. Ash discovers blurry lines between game and reality (her dog goes missing and shows up in the game, for example). More properly, the film argues that reality is constructed by her individual perspective and possibly by her choices (she sees the same statue once with its head and once headless).
This slow burning film takes us on a journey into the realm of virtual reality game play. The cleverness in this movie is the way it portrays reality as dull and murky where a pet dog is the only exciting and uplifting thing in ones life. In contrast - the large syndicate multi player world of gaming is depicted as being a far more interesting and exciting world, so much so that we as the viewer are hooked on the virtual world story more than the real world. The movie is a visual feast of contrasts, its deliberately slow, has some very cool VR action scenes and you will be rewarded in the final third act when you realise why the movie has you invested in the virtual storyline as it truly plays with your mind.
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