|Wladyslaw Kowalski||Game Master|
|From Poker Industries|
|The box says region 3 but Poker says it is actually all region. We played it on an all region player so I can't verify that but My father-in-law says it worked fine on his region one player.|
So, I sit down and start watching this movie. First thing, there is a plain text description on the screen for so long, I think the DVD has jammed. There is a game in the future, a multi-player war game, so immersive that people are sucked in, some are left brain-dead, unreturned, “lost”. The game is called Avalon, the island of departed heroes. Then we enter the game. We see a hex-map with text-labels describing disposition of forces. I think “my game, when I write it, is going to have better graphics.” Then all hell breaks loose, courtesy of the Polish Armed Forces, (rented for the duration of the movie, available for parties?). The world becomes a cross between the Matrix and footage of WWII. Tanks roll down streets, crowds flee, bombs rain down. A lone hero runs against a tide of panicked people to cut down enemy soldiers, etc. etc. So much for the first five minutes of the movie. But I am sucked in.
I love this film. And what got me from the first and kept me to the last was this - I play computer games, some of my favorites are the immersive first person games that Avalon would fall into. I find a good one and I wander around, physically in this world, but mentally in the other. I read books to get background, I explore, and I want to write such a game myself. With this movie, I feel completely at home.
The hero, heroine actually, Ash, is a lone warrior, playing the game for the money she wins. She dresses and leaves the game hall, a strange sort of clinic and cyber-café where people can watch others progress on huge screens, or play themselves, lying on cots, strapped and cabled up to banks of computers in private rooms like wards.
Ash has a routine. She plays, collects her cash and goes home on the street-car to her apartment and her dog. And that’s where things really start to get weird. The world of the game is a strange digital one, all rendered in tones of yellow. The image quality is like a high-res monitor, a good image, but not like an image on film at all. The world Ash lives in is almost exactly the same weird digital yellow color, with only tints, here and there of other colors. Signs, objects might stand out as different; a chunk of meat is a lurid red, a cabbage is green white. But really, it all looks equally as unreal as the game world. If anything, it looks less real. Things repeat themselves over and over. Everywhere are copies of the same poster reading “Avalon - Stop”, or maybe “Stop - Avalon”. People in the background seldom move, often appear in the same place time after time. Ash buys several books, odd since, as they are blank, she would really only need one. A very strange world.
Ash is starting to have her troubles. She is good, too good really, her reputation has spread. The game master is telling her she will soon have to play against a time limit. Another player is trying to challenge her. She runs into a friend, someone who used to play on a team with her, heard about her and decided to look her up with a message. Their old team leader Murphy has become an unreturned. He had heard about a hidden area, an area that cannot be exited until you win, and became obsessed with finding it. And really, what is she doing? She used to be on the Wizard team, the best, the team that never lost. But it broke up, and now she plays alone, battle after battle. She shuns almost all worldly life. Even when her dog disappears, under very strange circumstances too, she seems to take it not as a blow, but merely as a sign it’s time to move on.
And so… what is this movie about? I think I know, and then I change my mind. Was Ash in love with Murphy? Does she want to conquer the game? Or does she not care, playing endlessly until she too becomes lost. At one point she asks the game master, a man only ever seen as a face on the screen (wearing a clerical collar, strangely) if he is a virtual creation, or someone logged in from another location. His reply, “It does not matter - you would be unable to verify what I said.” A very Turing answer. And an answer that might apply to all my questions too.
I will say nothing about the ending except that it was original and gorgeous and maddeningly vague. And that it climaxes with a little piece of opera that forced me to immediately buy the soundtrack CD. I might also add the only thing more strange and different than this film are all the theories different reviewers (mostly amateurs like me) have about what is going on and how it ends. I refer the viewers back to the game master.