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eXistenZ

Jude Law , Jennifer Jason Leigh , David Cronenberg    DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (200 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 15.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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eXistenZ + Videodrome (Widescreen) + Naked Lunch
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Director David Cronenberg's eXistenZ is a stew of corporate espionage, virtual reality gaming, and thriller elements, marinated in Cronenberg's favorite Crock-Pot juices of technology, physiology, and sexual metaphor. Jennifer Jason Leigh is game designer Allegra Geller, responsible for the new state-of-the-art eXistenZ game system; along with PR newbie Ted Pikul (Jude Law), they take the beta version of the game for a test drive and are immersed in a dangerous alternate reality. The game isn't quite like PlayStation, though; it's a latexy pod made from the guts of mutant amphibians and plugs via an umbilical cord directly into the user's spinal column (through a BioPort). It powers up through the player's own nervous system and taps into the subconscious; with several players it networks their brains together. Geller and Pikul's adventures in the game reality uncover more espionage and an antigaming, proreality insurrection. The game world makes it increasingly difficult to discern between reality and the game, either through the game's perspective or the human's. More accessible than Crash, eXistenZ is a complicated sci-fi opus, often confusing, and with an ending that leaves itself wide open for a sequel. Fans of Cronenberg's work will recognize his recurring themes and will eat this up. Others will find its shallow characterizations and near-incomprehensible plot twists a little tedious. --Jerry Renshaw

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to Cronenberg's world Aug. 16 2004
Format:DVD
Fantastic DVD here, and at a great price. You can also find an even more budget-conscious version, but there will be fewer extras.
Opinions on this film vary. Die-hard Cronenberg fans sometimes find eXistenZ to be a little lightweight. Especially when compared to more provocative films like Crash or depressing films like Spider or Dead Ringers.
On the other end of the spectrum, those unfamiliar with Cronenberg's work may find this movie to be too bizarre!
I won't talk too much about the plot, as other reviewers are better at it than I am, but I'll say that it's kind of a game within a game within a game (within a game?). Like a few other films of the day it explores the nature of reality (The Matrix of course is most popular).
eXistenZ was actually Cronenberg's biggest budget at 25 million (not including his current project A History of Violence). The special effects are fantastic, and there are some good moments of gore. A couple people get shot in and around the face. Yes, this is a return to his past in many ways, though again, in a slightly more playful manner.
There's plenty of extras on the DVD, most notably three separate commentaries and a long (almost an hour, I think) feature about production designer Carol Spier which mostly focuses on eXistenZ but also touches on some of her earlier work with Cronenberg.
Definitely worth getting, and an especially good introduction to Cronenberg's work (before moving on to more disturbing pictures like Videodrome and The Brood, and more slow, paced pictures such as Spider and Crash).
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5.0 out of 5 stars eXistenZ May 8 2004
What a wonderful movie. All of the mind twisting about just what is reality anyway? and a feeling for what it's like if you are a videogame character living in a videogame world, where you may have to chop off a person's head to proceed with the game. I love the homage to Philip K. Dick, who beat the reality problem nearly to death in his works (movies made from his stories include Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, Screamers, Imposter (which I haven't seen), and the embarrassing Paycheck). When the main characters in eXistenZ get hamburgers to take to the motel, the burgers come from Perky Pat's, and Perky Pat comes from Philip K. Dick. Residents of Mars, to spice up their boring lives in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, take a drug and play with their Perky Pat dolls, becoming the dolls and trying to live a Barbie and Ken existence. They know it's not real, but it becomes more real than real. You know that you are viewing a great simulation of reality in this movie when the burgers come from Perky Pat's. This movie would not have been made if Philip K. Dick had not lived, and we are better for both of those events.
It also seems to me that people who love The Matrix as much as I do - and there are millions of us - can't help but love this film. I can only attribute this movie's small potatoes performance vis a vis The Matrix to not enough people having seen it. So if one one-hundredth of you Matrix fans out there and all of the Matrix haters one reviewer referred to would rush out and buy this DVD you would make David Cronenberg really rich, as well as one of our finest creators of off-kilter movies.
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A typical Cronenberg - blurred line between reality and fantasy, strange interaction between biology and technology, themes of addiciton and a psychological thriller plot. Leigh is average at best as a star game designer who is releasing a VR game so potent that people are out to kill her. Jude Law is good as the sidekick dragged into Leigh's alter world. However, as in all Cronenberg movies, he is the star and the actors are basically meaningless. Like "Naked Lunch" and "Dead Ringers" the sets and effects are striking and often gross. And also like those movies, Cronenberg injects biology where you would never expect it. In "eXistenz" the game console is a biological creature which must interact with the player via a connection to the spinal cord - weird stuff indeed. Gamers eventually develop a strong addicition to their bio-console in a drug-like way - another common Cronenberg motif. The story is intelligent and the artistic direction is quite interesting, but this film is not for everyone.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Seriously underrated Cronenberg sci-fi film Feb. 14 2004
The biggest strike against David Cronenberg's eXistenZ is the year that it came out - 1999. It was a summer dominated by Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss. Cronenberg's film covers strikingly similar territory to The Wachowski Brothers' comic book/kung fu/sci-fi/action opus, The Matrix. Whereas The Matrix was a big-budget Hollywood movie aimed at a wide mainstream audience, eXistenZ is an independent lower budget Canadian production aimed at a significantly smaller audience. Both movies deal with issues of technology, specifically actual reality versus computer-generated reality. That's where the similarities end. The Matrix may ask profound questions, but it's an action film at heart, and it's only interested in asking those questions so long as they pave the way for a set piece filled with special effects and stunts. Cronenberg is not interested in dazzling the viewer with effects and action. He wants to make the viewer think (and of course, feel completely repulsed and disgusted).
eXistenZ is a smart sci-fi thriller that is thought-provoking, complex and completely immersing. The premise is pure Cronenberg brilliance: A designer of virtual reality games which use living, organic "controllers" that plug into the user's spinal cord, is pursued by a gang of realists who resent her attempt to deform reality as we know it. She enters her game to make sure it wasn't damaged in the attack, and things get interesting from there. Is anyone even after her at all? What is real and what isn't? Cronenberg manages to infuse his usual trademarks into the story, particularly technology versus biology. The part synthetic/part organic game pods are very clever, and I especially liked the completely organic gun made of bones and cartilage which fires human teeth as bullets.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A John Carpenter want-to-be
Allegra Geller has just created a new game called eXistenZ. At its début someone tries to tooth her to death in the name of reality. Read more
Published 8 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Cronenberg's best!
Before we had Inception we had this masterpiece by one of the best film-makers of all time! A must watch.
Published 13 months ago by Ryan Adams
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Blu-ray quality.
Its a great movie, great quality with the blu-ray. The biggest difference with the D.v.d are the extras. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Maxime Hébert
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie!
I am Karen's daughter and I was the one she got this movie for. I watch this movie with my husband. I had first saw it when I was living at home, and thought it was a good sci-fi... Read more
Published on March 7 2012 by Karen Evans
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better
It's hard to rate this movie, especially without giving away any plot spoilers (which has to do with periods of bad acting). Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by JackDaniels7
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind bending
Every once in awhile when I am feeling reflective I like to watch a David Cronenberg film. I have seen quite a few of them at this point, from some of his earliest stuff like... Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2004 by Jeffrey Leach
5.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliant Cronenberg film
Although eXistenZ came out around the same time as The Matrix, it seems to be a response to that film. Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2004 by SPM
3.0 out of 5 stars not the best work by Cronenberg
I like David Cronenberg movies. But this one was quite disappointing. I didn't look at the year the movie was created and thought that it's some earlier Cronenberg' work so... Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2003 by Vahania63
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your money
The intellectual counterpart of the matrix. This film is truly enjoyable and made me think. Not only that, but the first thing I said after seeing it for the first time was 'are we... Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003 by "day24"
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