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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.
I was finally able to see AVALON, after a recommendation from an especially insightful friend, and I was glad that I did - I'm not usually a big sci-fi fan, but I found AVALON to be very imaginatively made, and full of food for thought. The overall story (well-summarized in other reviews here) is fairly lean, which for me wasn't a problem - the open symbolism of the film invites plenty of meditation upon themes of illusion, honor, faith and addiction, and how those themes surface in ways beyond the obvious in the everyday world we live in. Not necessarily original ideas, but they are well-handled here; the lonesomeness and technological obsessiveness of the characters is definitely cautionary, and definitely underscores the sweetness and value of simple, un-technological human contact.
I did find that AVALON, in its' structure, pleasantly reminded me of several other Japanese films I've liked in the recent past - like CURE, after life, SUICIDE CLUB and the pulp cinema of Seijun Suzuki (and the mind-bending fiction of Haruki Murakami), the rather open ending (not everything wraps up neatly) challenges an audience - in the most generous of ways - to draw conclusions of their own, rather than neatly serving up the directors' own opinions, and in this the meditative pacing (which also recalls some Russian film) is absolutely approriate. And like some of those other films, I'd suspect that it seems stronger with a second viewing.
All-in-all, highly inventive and thoughtful, and more complex than other reviewers have credited it for being.
I cannot argue with the reviews that claim the cinematography is
extraordinary. The visuals are beautiful. The story, however, is very
very thin on the ground. I am not surprised that it never made it big
I'd be surprised if the dialogue took up more than 20 pages on a script.
That being said, it is a very unique film and one that I would recommend to the hardcore scifi/anime/pop-philosophy fans. Don't expect this movie to blow your mind though.
Things that would have made this film better: - Faster pacing - More dialogue - Better character development (I make a parallel to character development in Equilibrium - I consider this film similar but more successful in that the characters at some point gain some depth. This movie doesn't achieve that.)
I suspect that much of the hype surrounding this movie is carried on two points: - Reputation of director - Visual effects
I'm sorry, but in an age where visual effects is something that every film can master, little things like character development and dialogue are extremely important.
AVALON is a film that's nowhere deep as it thinks it is. It's one of those
stories that spends it's entire time beating a single idea into your head
that could've been conveyed in the space of 2 minutes.
Essentially, it's a movie where NOTHING happens. And I'm not just talking about action. Story, dialogue, character development...it's all about as active as a stillborn baby.
At about 1/5 of the way through the film, we're treated to a long montage showing every scene that has happened up to that point. Wow. Not since the 15 minute car ride sequence in Tarkovsky's 'Solaris' has an art film completely delved into such pretentious bullsh-...*ahem*...pardon me, "reflection."
Nope...Oshi is not "ahead of his time." He simply copies the style of other clueless arthouse filmmakers who think they're breaking the mold. Avoid this like the plague...and seek out something with some real imagination and intelligence.
Beautiful, peaceful and unique movie. This movie must be one of the best
Sci-fi movies ever. People always complain, that this movie is "empty". This
movie is supposed to be EMPTY!!!! It's intentional! The lives of the
characters in this movie are empty. All they think or talk about is the
game. This movie is about the effects of technology to social life of human
Other people often compare this movie to The Matrix... It's really, really annoying. Okay... there's definitely some similarities, but they're not stolen from The Matrix. Actually The Matrix stole many elements from Mamoru Oshiis (director of this movie) Ghost in the Shell (but somewhy nobody's saying that The Matrix is ripping-off Ghost In The Shell). Avalon is calm and beautiful movie and The Matrix is fast paced actionmovie with John Woo/Johnnie To/Tsui Hark type fighting/shooting scenes, so don't try to compare these movies. They're both good movies, but DIFFERENT!
Watch this movie. Don't think about The Matrix while watching. Just WATCH the movie and ENJOY (And be blown away by the awesome musics by Kawai)!
This is almost like a "Matrix meets Thirteenth Floor" of sorts, minus all the second-to- second fast pased action. If you like to be intregued by your movies (especially ones that are action-esque) then just watch this movie, you will surely like it... even more if you like computer games.
To start, I'll say that Avalon is one of my favorite movie, because it
quite no flaws in every aspect.
Now, let's develop ! First, I'll say that this movie has nothing to be compared to Matrix. The universes are really different and the plot also : Avalon is supposed to be a game and not the fake reality that machines built for us. To my opinion, if there is one movie to be compared to Avalon, it is "La Jetée" (The Pier) by Chris Marker.
The colors are superb and the large amount of visual FX are innovative and very story-driven : they are not here to distract you from a poor script like in many FX-driven movies. The story is very complete, and what a marvelous idea to locate the movie in Poland. It adds a unique atmosphere to the whole film : sets, music, actors,... So many good details (the dog, the fixed people, the starving gamer, the arthurian symbols...). This scenario is an example of creativity and story-telling.
Next, the actors : they are very well chosen, the character of Ash being more and more interesting with its "fire and ice" aspect : strong in the game, broken in life. Again, the choice of Polish actors is a great idea as they don't "overact" in front of the cam, unlike many American actors do (sorry!).
Next, the music. I was fan of Kenji Kawai's previous works, but there, I've been stunned : Avalon is probably one of the best original soundtrack. So various, so well arranged and recorded. This alone justifies the fact that if you love independent, creative movies, Avalon is a must-see.
This is one of those movies from which you would expect it to be disappointing. It is supposed to be a good sci-fi but as soon as you start watching, most of the time it turns out to be a rude copy of an original golden oldie or something which, with the budget of george lucas, might have been something worth watching. This one is neither. Although it shows that it has been made without the special FX techniques, it is a surprisingly good movie. The atmosphere it creates is pretty unique and the fact that you don't really know what is real, where the game stops and when reality kicks in, is something I have only experienced in The Matrix or Existenz. Therefore, if you like a sci fi that puzzles you and you don't mind listening to Polish while reading subtitles, this is quite a good movie.
I was so looking forward to this movie, and I so wanted to like it. After Hayao Miyazaki, Mamoru Oshii is probably my favourite anime director. I loved Patlabor and Ghost in the Shell. That's why I was monumentally disappointed with Avalon. Maybe it was too much to expect that the transition to live action would be smooth or seamless for Oshii. The movie plays as though it was conceived and shot as an animation. There's plenty of dark, moody ambiance and soul-searching facial close-ups but most of the story comes from the dialogue. The other problem is that the plot seems to be abandoned occasionally and the film then becomes a kind of promo for Kenji Kawai's not-unpleasant music score. It all adds up to something that feels laboured and directionless for much of the time. The opening scene is fantastic but once that's over the film struggles to maintain interest and pace. When I got the gist of the story I found myself hoping that the overall ropy-ness was somehow intentional but alas no. Very poor.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Be warned, there might be a very VAGUE spoiler in this comment.
It really only shares with the Matrix some of the most basic concepts (a vaguely-realistic computer-generated world in which one can perform superhuman (or near-superhuman in the case of Avalon) acts of violence, and of course the underlying solipsism), but that is the best thing to compare it with, as fewer people are familiar with the short-lived tv series "Harsh Realm" (which is really a much better comparison). Anyhow, Avalon is reminiscent of those shows, but is DEFINITELY its own movie.
The visuals are done in three different modes...a bizarre, surreal fantasy world (which is largely what the trailers were composed of), the less-weird REAL world, and another, which to describe would be to spoil. And they are fantastic. The un-realism of the game sequences is part of the believability of this film. They look the way one might expect the descendants of today's first-person shooters to look. (Well, except that I would expect more COLOR.) And the dreariness of the real-world sequences makes the payoff at the end that much bigger.
The ONLY complaint I have with this movie (besides that my Japanese isn't good enough to make out all the subtitles, and I don't speak Polish) is that it doesn't show us much of the real world. Everything we see is directly related to the game...it has about as much depth in that respect as the world in Pokemon. Of course, one might debate that that also pays off in the end.
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