movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PLOT SUMMARY: People in a bleak future play an illegal and addictive online game “Avalon”, which puts World Of Warcraft to total shame. Someone’s soul is trapped in the game, and Ash is to retrieve it in hopes of finding the next level — “Class Real” — where you die in real life if you die in the game. But hey, you get tons of experience points!

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]ā†’ Illegal gaming addictions leads to complications.

PEOPLE: A Polish movie by a Japanese writer (who has written for anime .hack//SIGN) and director (who has worked on anime Urusei Yatsura). Note that the American version has additional narration added in the beginning and the end.

QUIRKS: Cyberpunk. Video game realities and politics. Ghosts in the machine. Quests to get to higher levels. Desaturated colors.

VISUALS: A very stylized, well-executed visual movie! Lots of in-game “graphics”, lots of dark and bleak real life scenes, very sepia scenes, and strange in-game effects and glitches. And then the next level is even more brilliant. They succeed in making reality look as bleak as a Quake 1 palette, and making the game actually look cooler than reality. [highlight for spoilers]ā†’ Especially Class Real.

This was definitely a good candidate for watching in HD.

SOUNDTRACK: Operatic singing. It’s very suitable at first, but then they overuse it.

POLITICS: Only in-game politics! Kind of refreshing.

BAD STUFF: VERY slow paced. Lots of scenes with no dialog, and not much happening. They could have used that time to explain things more, but instead they have a lot of scenes that just don’t add to the story much.

Then they have the incredibly over-used opera singers, especially towards the end.

And then we have the ending itself. That’s the worst part of the movie, and by far the least satisfying part. I had to yell out, “No!”, because we were working up to something great, but it was never achieved. (Sort of the same feeling I got with The Fountain, but even The Fountain had a better, more coherent ending — one which was full of closure.)

The English version adds some additional narration to the ending — a few sentences. It helps, but not enough.

As another example of a pointless scene, I will quote Carolyn RE:The Triplets Of Bellvue. “Do we really have to watch that guy eat for 10 minutes straight?” (Okay, it was really more like 10 seconds, and I didn’t mind — but it was an example of how many pointless scenes they have here.)

CONCLUSION: For me, this movie was a mix of 4/5 star scenes and 2/5 star scenes. The bad scenes combined with the bad ending forced me to give this a 2/5 star rating, even though it’s a movie with neat concepts & visuals. It still gets a 6/10 IMDB rating from me, though.

Clint: Netflix: 2/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10 (got a +1 bonus for visuals and surrealness).
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
Parthena: Netflix: 5/5 stars.
The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 3.1/5 stars, IMDB 6.7/10.

RECOMMENDATION: Video game lovers? See this! And if you like movies that transcend levels of reality, such as The 13th Floor, eXistenZ, The Matrix — then this is of a similar area of interest. Definitely visually great. I just wish it had been a bit less, dare I say, “artsy”.

You might want to watch this in English to get the additional narration at the beginning and end. The dubbing isn’t great, though.


1) Ash: Let me ask you something. Are you accessing from a terminal somewhere or are you part of the system itself?
Game Master: What does it matter? You couldn’t confirm it anyway.

2) Bishop: what do you think is the best, a game you think you can finish, but never do, or a game that seems impossible to win, but isn’t?

3) “Reality is what we choose to believe. As for who controls the game? I choose to believe–it’s me.” –English version only [final quote]

Mood: full
Music: Panic At The Disco – This Is Halloween