Sunday, October 16, 2005


I didn't even know Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) had done a live movie, but he has, in Poland...Poland? He seems to have a thing about reality and machines and uses this film to explore the theme of immersive gaming, especially on-line battle simulations. The basic plot is about a woman called Ash who is a loner in a gaming world where most work in groups of the standard characters (Warriors, Thieves etc.). She is very good at the game but seems to have wrecked the last group she worked with by resetting the game to escape a dangerous situation. She is only interested in getting into a secret part of the game, a part where you cannot reset and may (cliché time) end up as a vegetable. But this does not matter it is the feel of the film, the use of sepia for most of it, the way it explores a mind on the edge and its use of very plausible effects.

These effects range from the real, like the use of post-Soviet brutalist environments including a seriously more Alcatraz than Alcatraz ex-prison. This is used as the location for the bodies of the players when they are playing. The sheer grimness of the place is worth the price of admission. Then there is the use of Russian Hind helicopters as the bad-guy vehicle of choice. These aircraft are really ugly and just look villainous. This is interesting in that there seems to be no designer gunware as there is in Hollywood movies, here the weapons are just functional. Finally there are the digital special effects. Not impressive, in fact they are pretty transparent and definitely not of the Wow king of Hollywood overkill just done to achieve continuity. When a character dies they go two dimensional and break into flat plains that fold up then shatter into fragments.

The ending is a bit iffy but overall its worth a watch if you are interested in the way people seem to live in as well as for games, if you want to see an FX movie that uses them to help the storytelling rather than hide it and if you like stylish movies.


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