Rated: R (Polish w/English subtitles)
Stars: Malgorzata Foremniak, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Jerzy Gudejko, Dariusz Biskupski, Bartek Swiderski, Katarzyna Bargielowska, Alicja Sapryk
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Screenwriters: Kazunori Ito, Neil Gaiman (additional dialogue)

This sci-fi/fantasy is a Asian-East European production collaboration with Japanese director Mamoru Oshii heading the project. He’s best known for the animated “Ghost in the Shell”, a film that inspired both “The Matrix” and “eXistenZ”. Avalon was filmed in Warsaw and the actors are Polish.

It’s set in a future world where illegal Virtual Reality war games are the most popular form of entertainment even though they are exceedingly dangerous.

Ash (Foremniak) is one of the best solo players of Avalon, a war game in which gamers can play alone or as part of a team, fighting their way through different levels in search of experience points and wealth, and each level becomes more dangerous. The unlucky ones can end up brain-dead. Ash goes on a mission to find an old comrade lost in the game and faces a level where virtual and reality mix to unexpected results.

Lotta says: While some of the effects are inspiring, the battle sequences in the game are largely tedious and the story is somewhat confusing and over-baked. The film is shot almost entirely in a monochromatic yellowish hue and is infused with an operatic song describing Avalon as the legendary resting place of King Arthur. Avalon, in fact, is a film trying to be more important than it really is. The tape box comes emblazoned with an endorsement by director James Cameron (Titanic, Terminator and Aliens) calling it “the most artistic, beautiful and stylish [film] in science fiction history.” Hmmm! A fully awake and sober person might take issue with those weighty words.

Reviewed: Dec. 22, 2003