From Mamoru Oshii, the acclaimed director of GHOST IN THE SHELL, AVALON is a mesmerizing sci-fi thriller with explosive action and state-of-the-art visual effects in the stunning style of THE MATRIX! In the not-so-distant... more » future, desperate young people risk everything to play "Avalon" -- an illegal and potentially lethal virtual war game where addicted combatants earn points and wealth. For one of the game?s greatest warriors, the "noble soldier" Ash, the search for Avalon?s legendary game stage Class Real will either lead to an entirely higher level of existence -- or be a journey from which she will never return! With awe-inspiring visuals and an intriguing futuristic story, lose yourself in the excitement of this amazing cinematic adventure!« less
Terry V. from MARYSVILLE, OH Reviewed on 7/15/2011...
I LOVE/LOVE/LOVE this movie. The MOOD is what makes it. Dark, foreboding, maybe even depressing - but in the end the heroine finds clarity and prevails.
The feel of this movie is akin to the original Tarkovsky version of Solaris, or maybe Blade Runner.
My favorite kind of movie - slow, methodical movement, drawing you in to deep pondering on the state of reality. Building inexorably to a climax, when you expect all to be revealed. But then a twist of the story line and its over, and you think "I didn't see that coming." You continue to think about it for days, realizing a little more of the message days later. Then you watch it again months later and find more insights that weren't apparent the first time.
I don't have the DVD, but I watch it on broadcast every time it comes up. Wonder if there is a way to get the original version without the added content that "spoon-feeds" the viewer with extra explanations, as mentioned in another review?
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Michael G. (mgmirkin) from PORTLAND, OR Reviewed on 12/22/2009...
This film seems a bit of a mixed bag.
It does seem to give a bit of the film noir vibe that I like throughout the majority of the movie. It's presented largely in sepia tone throughout most of the movie (the last act is presented in color; undoubtedly to contrast the final "Special A" / "Class Real" level with all the other levels of the game / virtual world throughout the movie). There's a certain grimness / grittiness to the presentation of most of the movie.
I liked the special feature on the movie's visual effects creation. It was rather interesting to see how they overcame some of the technical challenges.
But as I said earlier the movie itself was a bit of a mixed bag. The visuals were pretty nice, but the plot and pay-off were marginal. Worth a rental for the visuals and the making-of featurette(s).
Not the Original Directors Vision!
ARNOLD HURON | San Antonio, Texas USA | 04/19/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Here we go again. MIRAMAX basterdizes another movie. MIRAMAX tends to buy the rights to these great movies & then changes them. I've seen the original AVALON so I can comment on what's been changed. First, the original washed out color of the film is replaced with an deep orange. This really ruins some of the original scenes.At least some colors in the original movie came out. MIRAMAX has ruined the directors vision. If you have this DVD see the extras on the cinamatography & SFX. At least there you'll see the original color that was intended by director Mamoru Oshii.The 2nd thing that's been added is the additoinal dialogue. The main chracter explains the game after her 1st victory. This has been added by MIRAMAX. And lastly at the end or character explains it all or tries to.All this was added to the movie. The directors intention is to make you guess & ponder this wonderful story. But MIRAMAX has decided for you. About the only thing I'll give them credit is the great English dub. I also enjoyed the extras. I have to give this 3 stars. If you can write a protest letter to MIRAMAX. It's so sad how a american Distributor can tamper & ruin a directors vision. I'd recommend getting a foreign version of this movie if you can."
An Interesting Film Worth Seeing
Michael Silver | Mountain View, CA USA | 07/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am writing this only to help counteract some of the idiocy in other reviews. This movie is not for everyone: no movie is. It is a beautifully shot, wonderfully sculpted, slow-paced, and thought-provoking movie. It does not hand the answers to you on a plate, and that may bother some people, particularly those lazy viewers who rely on Hollywood films to tell them what to think with no room for imagination.
It is not a rip-off of The Matrix. If anything, it's derivative of Oshii's earlier films and thought, which heavily influenced The Matrix. I also loved Ghost in the Shell for many of the same reasons that I liked Avalon. It has some of the pacing of Taste of Cherry. It allows a person to settle in, relax, and absorb all of the deliciousness of the style of the movie and to get inside Ash, the heroine.
The special features are worth seeing. The director is very clear in his interview what his thoughts and intent are in the film. This film is a piece of art, and as such it allows each person to take from it what they want. I can understand people not liking it, but it cannot be denied that this film was done with care and passion and expresses the vision of an interesting person.
There are so many movies out there that are merely eye candy, like the recent Star Wars films, that are so bad otherwise. And so many movies that rely on violence or special effects and are wholly unoriginal but satisfy the kind of viewer who laments how his girlfriend fell asleep and who calls the director, "pretentious." There are few people in the world with the creativity, passion, and artistic sense of this director.
Avalon is not the greatest movie ever made, or even in the top 100, but it is far better than most of the dreck released each week, and it is a movie that makes you think and stays with you. It is worth seeing by anyone who enjoys something a little different and has the patience and courage to use their own brain and not have a movie that's spoon-fed to them.
And then there's the wonderful basset hound."
Must-see for anyone interested in the nuances of filmmaking
Samuel Delgado | Duluth, GA USA | 02/17/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is unfortunate that we've been so jaded by the Hollywood version of what a film should be that we would pass up the nuances that can make an otherwise mediocre film into a great film, albeit if mainly for its cinematographic value. Some appear to have judged Avalon, and the efforts of its director (Oshii), within this context--even presuming that the film is nothing more than a bad Matrix wannabe. This is not the case, in my view.I much prefer to be enticed by subtle details and given an opportunity to become immersed in mood than bombarded with a lot of special effects and high-flying acrobatics. This is what I found to be so refreshing about this movie. As for providing explanations to everything, well, I don't know that that is always needed in a film in order for it to be entertaining. So is it that I find it interesting that our Western mindset cannot deal with finding deeper meanings, through our own interpretations, in most anything that we encounter. It's as if we expect to pause our brains and be entertained through mere visual stimulation. Of course, I know that this is not really what others have described. Still, this is the type of movie that I believe deserves better than what I've read in these reviews. It's funny that I say all this and it was precisely the visuals that made the film so endearing. There's nothing passe about achieving a high level of beauty in a film, and we are fortunate to have "some" directors still mindful of this growingly archaic attention to detail."
Cyberpunk classic. Haunting and Powerful, but not fast-paced
Keen Anthony | Scottsdale, AZ | 10/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Avalon, not to be confused with a couple of unrelated though very good films with the same name, is a deeply haunting and powerful film, set in urban Poland, and directed by anime legend, director Mamoru Oshii. This is a landmark achievement in film-making, but admittedly its story and message are dated.
Avalon the film is about life centered around Avalon, a virtual reality combat game. The game parallels the MUDs and MMORPGs we know today. Sadly, one darker aspect of Avalon (addiction and the possibility of ending up comatose) reflects unfortunate realities some have faced playing MMORPGs. The central character in Avalon is Ashe, a female player of the game. Ashe is a legend in her own right, a warrior-class player and member of a legendary but fallen team, Team Wizard. She now plays Avalon Solo. After a chance encounter with a former teammate that leads to her discovery that their former team captain and friend had been "lost" while trying to reach the end of the game, Ashe becomes focused on reaching the game's highest (and most personally dangerous) levels.
Avalon is a slow paced film. Do not expect fast-paced action from start to finish. I would say that this film is even slower than the The Matrix sequals and Blade Runner. Unless you truly love cinema and are not adverse to anything other than action flicks, you will likely find this movie boring. What may stand out to viewers is the apparent connection between this film, The Matrix, and Bladerunner. The latter film influenced Avalon just as it did every feature film within the Cyperpunk subgenre. This isn't surprising. What is notable is that Avalon shares a common ancestry with The Matrix. Oshii's Ghost in the Shell served as a central influence for The Matrix. Avalon, in turn, has borrowed some of its special effects and concepts from The Matrix.
The CG work is done in a style that intentionally depicts a virtual world where things are only semi-realistic contrasting a real world that is lifeless. This is important to note as the CG used in the film might lead some viewers to erroneously compare this movie by today's CG standards. The urban Eastern European settings is perfect at depicting a miserable real-world existence, making it easy to understand why people flock in droves to the Avalon game.
Oshii, a master of anime, uses his anime roots to emphasize emotion and reveal some of Avalon's backstory through subtle details. For example, posters in the fashion of anti-drug ads line walls calling for people to stop playing Avalon. The most apparent detail will be use of color in this film. Without giving too much of the story away, the film has a constant muted half-tone color wash. Miramax's DVD release adds a heavier shade of orange over the original. This may be comfortable for some viewers. I didn't feel any eye strain myself watching this movie in the dark though. My only complaint about this movie is that, occasionally, scenes go on without advancing the plot, a typical complaint I have of Oshii's work in anime.
The extras on this DVD are worthwhile. There is a documentary discussing the story and special effects used. The picture is presented in Widescreen 1.85 format, enhanced for widescreen TVs. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in the original Polish, English, and French tracks."
A must-see for anyone
Homer2101 | 01/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Avalon, directed by Mamoru Oshii, who also directed Ghost in the Shell . . . Really beautifully done and thought provoking . . . Combined with special effects worthy of The Matrix, and boasting a great storyline that The Matrix never truly delivered. The choice of colors reminds me of both Schindler's List and .Hack//SIGN. The music score is both haunting and beautiful .If there is an antithesis to the Hollywood film industry, an antithesis that is everything a Hollywood film is often not, then this is it . . . The new dub is quite good, though perhaps missing some of the subtleties of the original."