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by David Blackwell

Details: 107 minutes, Interview with the director, and the Special FX of Avalon.


"Reality is only what you choose it to be"

AVALON is one of the most fascinating visual science fiction movies ever made. Whether you like the story or not, there is no denying the imagery will blow you away.

Avalon is an illegal virtual war game what the disenchanted youth in a rundown near future world play to get away from reality. Some people form teams known as "parties" and some players even make money playing Avalon. However some people don't return from the game environment and end up as "the Unreturned" that are brain dead shells that have to be taken care by the hospitals. Ash is a solo player (who used to be part of a team). She is trying to get the "Special A" level and she needs the help of a bishop to find a little girl who is referred to as a ghost, but the ghost girl is the key to entering "Special A".

AVALON was filmed in Poland and the Poland landscape (and buildings) add immensely to the environment of the movie. Then there is the sepia tone look that invades most of the movie. You do see a bit of color here and there in the movie. The CG in the movie is some of the best CGI work I have ever seen as it helps enhance the place the characters exist in and the game of Avalon itself. The movie is thought-provoking as the movie stayed with me that I had to watch it a second time. It is the time of movie that haunts you.

VIDEO/ AUDIO:   AVALON is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The video looks great. The detail is clear and sharp. I don't see any noticeable artifacts. This is one of the best transfers I have seen from Miramax.

The movie can be heard in it's original Polish language (with English or French subtitles, English, or French. All audio tracks are in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. The music is mixed loud. All dialogue can be heard clearly and the English track is a job of very good dubbing.


The DVD has two featurettes which are in Japanese with the option of English or French subtitles.

Interview with Director Mamoru Oshii is about 19 minutes long. He talks about his love for stray dogs, skipping school to see movies, and what themes he explores in his movies.

The Special FX of Avalon is a 57 minute featurette on how all the effects work was done on the movie from doing explosions for real and inserting them into the movie digitally, computer models that were created of the helicopters and part of the city (since they weren't allowed to film from a helicopter), and how a computer named Domino allows them to do lots of cool things to the film after they digitally scanned it to the computer. They also show how they turned the movie from color to a sepia tone (with the odd splash of color here and there throughout the movie). The movie even looks beautiful in color before they turned it mostly into a sepia look.

FINAL ANALYSIS:   AVALON is a science fiction movie with fantastic visuals, great CGI, and a moving music score. If you're anime fan or a person that looks for something better than some of the Hollywood sci-fi movies that pass muster these days, rent or buy AVALON because the movie is one of the most unique visual sci-fi movies ever.

this review is (c)9-3-2004 David Blackwell. This review cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to Lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com

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