Occupying a hazardous fantasy war zone located somewhere between David Cronenberg's eXistenZ
and the Matrix
trilogy, Mamoru Oshii's Avalon
is a must-see entry in the subgenre of virtual-reality thrillers. Combining live-action set in a dystopian near future (filmed in Poland) and digital imagery set within a state-sponsored virtual combat game called Avalon, this sluggishly paced but visually dazzling film is another brain-teaser from the director of Ghost in the Shell
. The action focuses on a maverick Avalon ace named Ash (played by the lovely Polish actress Malgorzata Foremniak) who advances to the game's highest and most mysterious level, "Class Real," a virtual world so authentically convincing that some--called "the Unreturned"--choose never to leave it. As with the Matrix
is more intriguing in premise than execution, filled with hushed tones and heavy-handed portent. Still, the amber-hued ruins of Oshii's virtual landscape are oddly alluring as a means of escape--a warning from Oshii, perhaps, that even the most exciting virtual reality is a trap that can prove deadly to those who fall into it willingly. --Jeff Shannon
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 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 games greatest warriors, the "noble soldier" Ash, the search for Avalons 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!