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Reviews & Ratings for
Avalon More at IMDbPro »

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Bonkers. Baffling. Brilliant.

Author: phiggins from London, England
14 November 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILERS... "Avalon" - a world where nothing is real, not even reality. A world of illegal virtual reality war games. A retro-future world of muted colours, grotty buildings and down-trodden citizenry. "Avalon" - a Polish/Japanese co-production featuring awesome yet strangely sedate battle scenes, enigmatic characters, minimal dialogue and a plot that goes everywhere and nowhere (baby). Ash, our heroine, plays the aforementioned video game, and is both addicted to it and very good at it, although it doesn't seem to give her much actual pleasure. A Big Brother-esque character advises her on her game play. Strange things happen. There is talk of another, secret level to the game that can be accessed whenever one encounters a strange ghostly child. I know, it doesn't sound very good, does it. However, this is one of those films that can drive a person batty, with its repetitive, stately, surreal, haunting atmosphere, incredible special effects and quite simply fantastic music. It has to be seen to be believed. I've seen it, and I'm still not sure I believe it. Ballard, Banks, Baudrillard, Cronenberg (especially "Videodrome" and the mighty "Existenz"), Gilliam, Orwell and "City of Lost Children" are all reference points, as is the work of Chris Marker ("La Jetee", "Sans Soleil"). This is, in other words, an intelligent, thought-provoking, disturbing, brilliant piece of cinema. It is gratifying to see that, yet again, there are people outside the artistic bankruptcy of Hollywood who are using computer-generated imagery with imagination and style. Compare the images in this film with something like "The Matrix" (that dullard's touch-stone): on the one hand we have genuinely breath-taking and mind-blowing visuals, while on the other we have a Gap advert with extra weaponry. I know which I prefer. As Ash's quest (for what? Her dog?) continues, she comes into contact with what looks (to the audience) like real life. Indeed, it is called "Level Real". Suddenly everything looks normal, and we think we have worked out what is going on. We couldn't, of course, be more wrong. As the orchestra, choir and soloist build to an epic crescendo, Ash confronts... someone. And, just as we think we understand, the rug is pulled away yet again. The music continues, the line between reality and unreality is as blurred as ever, and my head really hurts. If you get the chance to see this work of art, do so. You will not be disappointed. You might end up a lot of things, but not disappointed.

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Cool video game fantasy about virtual reality war games

Author: Bart from Midwest
28 October 2002

Hmmm, when I saw the trailer for this film, I was VERY excited to see it. The visuals looked awesome and the action scenes looked as good as some of the stuff from The Matrix. However, after I bought the DVD and watched the whole thing, I was a bit disappointed. When you watch the film, remember that only parts were directed by Mamoru Oshii, and the rest by the Polish director (I can't remember his name off hand). The opening few minutes of the movie are smashing. Absolutely fantastic. BUT, the remainder of the film, is quite boring and repetitive. Throughout the film there are a few more small segments directed by Mamoru Oshii, and these scenes really make the film worth watching, twice or three times at least. The story is really cool also, but not held up enough to make it very interesting. Overall, the film has some stunning visual scenes (those directed by Mamoru Oshii) but lacks as a whole...

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Very good, but flawed

Author: Tom-2128 from United States
13 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Lot's of comments compare this movie to "The Matrix" but they don't point out the obvious difference: the plot of "Avalon" is the reverse of "The Matrix". In "The Matrix", the main character starts out in the game (the Matrix) and moves to the real world. In "Avalon", the main character (Ash) goes in the opposite direction.

Another interesting point is that the philosophy of "Avalon" is the opposite of that of "The Matrix". In "The Matrix", living in reality is presented as the highest value, worth sacrificing comfort and security. In "Avalon", the point is that the real isn't morally superior to the artificial: choosing the artificial (i.e. virtual reality) is presented as a perfectly reasonable choice.

There is a dispute about whether the first part of the movie is boring or just depicting a boring character. It's both. The problem is that the director apparently didn't realize that showing a boring life doesn't have to be boring. He could have used techniques such as showing a dull sequence, then referring to it briefly several times. "Groundhog Day" used that technique.

A common complaint in many comments is that Ash is emotionless and her real world is bland, boring, and (almost literally) colorless. That is crucial to the movie: it has to make the point that Ash's life outside the game is meaningless.

I like the fact that the movie combines Dungeons and Dragons, video games, and Multi User Dungeons, and it handles each of them accurately.

We can summarize the point of the movie as: the artificial world we create can be better than the world we live in.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Avalon single DVD

Author: lwolfson-1 from United States
19 November 2005

10+ for direction and photography. 8 for acting (Ash was a 10+). I found a copy at Blockbuster with single DVD widescreen with English subtitles. Here's what I don't get:

1. There were many subtitles when no one was speaking, did they just dub out voices to replace with subtitles? Somewhat confusing for me.

2. Language mismatch, the little Polish I know didn't seem to jive with some of the subtitles.

3. Shots of the orchestra; yes, the music was great and Skywalker Ranch really did a bang-up job with the audio fixes, but watching the orchestra (and the audience watching the orchestra) hurt the pace of the movie. Were these shots added?

4. Skywalker Ranch's role in this? If anyone knows the story of how they got involved, I would like to hear more.

5. I thought this existed as 2 or 4 CD set. Mine was single CD.

Overall, this was a great movie. The scene of Ash fixing the food for her dog was so mesmerizing, I was captured in the moment like Ash and totally forgot about the dog. The breakfast scene of her "friend" stuffing his face was awesome! I am so glad to see decent sci-fi without Hollywood destroying it.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Be ready for a slow ride

Author: Aditya Pandit from Boston
29 July 2005

It took me two attempts to watch the movie. There are certain conditions which will make you like the movie more.

1) Being a Sci Fi Buff If you are a sci fi buff you will generally like the dish being fared out in this move.

2) Being Gaming buff if you are a gaming buff you will just love and relate to the situations the characters are going through in the movie

3) watch the movie when you are not too tired and need entertainment(Hollywood style)

The movie is very slow paced and it takes time and patience to appreciate what the director is trying to portray.

The cinematography and camera-work are the best part of the movie. It has some really captivating shots.

Skip it if you don't meet condition 3.

Although if you meet conditions 1 and 2 above just go for it and you will enjoy the movie even if you are tired and the movie seems slow and boring to others.


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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: jaakkochan from Finland
11 May 2005

The movie has a good pace and the characters feel so real. That war teared Poland is amazing. Poland army borrowed some tanks and things for the movie and the result is very convincing. Best its the atmosphere. I loved the scene in which displayed the scenery in which tram goes. Its strangely futuristic. Avalon is a movie that cannot be mentioned without mentioning its music by Kawai Kenji. Kawais score is symphonic and brilliant, it has a pace and nostalgia a simply fantastic music that can be enjoyed over and over, with or without the film. The scene with old cannon, is memorized as one of the most simply fantastic. Malgorzata Foremniak is fantastic, her big eyes and calm face convey so much - she simply stands there quietly without expression in her face, but still expressing so much. The CG is OK, and those 2D animations when something is destroyed in the game is very creative and fresh idea. It doesn't really impress after seeing Matrix but it doesn't have to - it works well enough. If this movie and Matrix tells about more or less the same thing, I like this movie more. Maybe because I'm fond of fantasy and Japanese literature, which both this movie has got influence from. There are lot of metaphors in the movie. The dog for example, which is by the way, great. The director loves dogs I heard and he would have preferred using his own dog, but since they were out there in Poland for months doing the film, it was not possible. The movie is first "real" movie of Mamoru Oshii. He is famous in Japan of his previous animated movies such as "Batlabor" and "Ghost in the Shell". I recommend this movie to anyone interested about movies such as Matrix, Lord of the Rings or Existenz. It doesn't have the same Hollowood charm Matrix had, but for me that's only a plus.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great movie - loved the use of graphics and colors

Author: jwysack from United States
26 March 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When I was much younger and in college - I enrolled in a film class. One of the films we had to see was one called "White Wine, Red Wine". I had almost forgotten about that movie until I saw Avalon.

In "White Wine, Red Wine" ( could be backwards - I apologize - it's been almost 20 years since I saw it and I even looked it up on this site - it wasn't in it ) - the film starts out with everyone being an alternate universe - people didn't behave as they would - etc - and everyone was drinking white wine. All of a sudden, we see the people as they really are and they are all drinking red wine.

I stumbled upon this film watching it late one night and was stunned. I'm in the computer field myself and I could not help but notice the similarity of computer systems between this movie and Brazil - the movie by Terry Gilliam. Did anyone else notice the quaint keyboards and graphics on the screens? The terminals reminded me of stuff from the 70's.

I loved how when she went to the real world - it was all in full color as opposed to the sepia filtered world she was from. But again, as in her other world, it turned out to be just as fake as the other worlds. I liked the fact they really don't explain what happened to her - you're left to try and figure it out yourself. However, I agree with one other reviewer - I think she ended up in the hospital with Murphy. Her one fatal flaw was that she had to win no matter what the cost plus she was ticked off at Murphy for what he did earlier. She ends up eliminating his character, but then realizes her mistake as she finds out he never loaded his gun and she could have lived in that world forever. The "game" used her just like all the others, which is why she ends up going back into the hall and trying to shoot the ghost. Of course, the game just "resets" on her and claims her as a victim.

I do agree with the other writers - if you're looking for an action flick, go elsewhere. If you're looking to think, you've got the right film.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

1 word: WOW!

Author: Chris Conner from United States
12 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've seen Ghost In The Shell. Superb. Ghost In The Shell 2. Great. Patlabor 1 and 2. Sweet. Mamoru Oshii has had an excellent career in anime, so, for Avalon, he decided to spread his magic to the live-action world. But, instead of it being a Japanese live action film, it's a mostly Japanese film...with a Polish cast. This is, by far, Oshii's strangest work yet. works. The plot of the film sounds clichéd, but Oshii and screenwriter Kazunori Itoh (who also worked on Patlabor and GITS) make this seem like a whole new idea. The cinematography is gorgeous and really makes this movie wonderful. For the music, simply put, Kenji Kawai does it again! The maestro who scored Patlabor 2, GITS, and Ringu delivers his most powerful score yet. The huge budget gave him access to a HUMONGOUS orchestra. The opera at the end somehow fits with the showdown between the main character, Ash, and her thought to be dead teammate, Murphy. Finally, the acting. The actors must have seen Oshii's previous works because they manage to make this film like one of his anime movies. They really do their job here and the interaction between Ash and her basset hound is really touching and made me feel bad when the hound runs away forever. All in all, Avalon is superb. All fans of GITS or even The Matrix will love this film. And, 3 years later, Oshii would return with the long awaited sequel to his masterpiece, Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence. Rating: 5 out of 5.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A strangely moving film

Author: CoolTester from USA
11 February 2005

I've known about this film for years but never had a chance to watch it. Then, boom, it's playing on cable. I put aside all my other plans, sat, and watched this movie. All I can say is that it was more than worth it.

The idea of real vs. unreal was the perfect theme for a movie about virtual reality. It's refreshing to see a sci-fi film with a theme at all, especially one that's done so well. The colors in the film are dull, highlighting the sense of despair Ash feels for her world. Virtual, real -- it's all the same to her. The only things that matter to her are the game Avalon, and feeding her dog meals most humans don't deserve. As a side note, that added to my appreciation of this film. Someone who loves a dog that much cannot be all bad. The visuals were stunning, but they play a minor role. That itself is refreshing. Special effects do not dominate this film, they only enhance it.

Avalon can be very slow at times, but I never lost interest. Watching Ash change from her indomitable hero in Avalon to the pale, troubled girl in the real world raises the question of which is better. The virtual world, or the real world? Ash chooses by the time the film ends.

A worthwhile not just for the artsy-fartsy film fans (like me), it's a good film all around.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

stylish. Pretty cool to watch.

Author: soberwookie11 from San Antonio, Texas
23 December 2004

I recently purchased this film at a local video store for sale. I knew for a long time that it was directed by Mamorou oshii ( I don't Think I spelled his name right) I've seen his other film 'stray dog' And I know its part of a trilogy. The film is Stylish for its angles and feel ( love the dark colored filters ) and the music is pretty good. ( I listen to the end credits all the time ) I would recommend this film to any sort of anime- sci-fi action goer. but be warned, like all of oshii's films, He takes his time focusing on the atmosphere and the characters. If your in it for the action, there's really not that much but its fun to see.

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