Stars: Malgorzata Foremniak, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Jerzy Gudejko, Dariusz Biskupski, Bartlomiej Swiderski
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 128 minutes
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 trilogy, Avalon 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
Just as I thought, you are the only one who got through the gate.
Is this "Special A"?
We call it "Class Real". Building it has taken huge amounts of very sophisticated data. In many ways, it's still very experimental.
In many ways?
There's just one thing you have to do to complete it. That's finishing off the Unreturned. Your equipment and skill parameters are returned to default. All you have is a pistol and one clip of ammunition. There are neutral characters operating under free will. Hurt one of them and your game is over. There's no time limit. The only exit from the game is completion. If you get back safely, you can be one of us. Any questions?
Why did you send me here?
Surely the answer to that lies within you. If there's no questions, we'll begin.