eXistenZ Review

by Frankie Paiva (swpstke AT aol DOT com)
April 2nd, 2000


rated R
97 minutes
starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Willem DaFoe, and Ian Holm directed by David Cronenberg

A Video Review by Frankie Paiva

Freakish, out there science fiction films seem to be a trend. While some of these movies are good (The Matrix), there are also ones that have their downsides (The Thirteen Floor). Released around the same time, eXistenZ (that's pronounced X-SEH-STENZ) is the most unique of all. Alternate universes have never been more interesting. The movie does such a good job of blending reality with a game that the line is almost impossible to trace. Get ready for a wild ride, worthy of several multiple viewings.

Allegra Gellar (Leigh whose wardrobe is less then spectacular) is the world's greatest game designer. During a test for her new game eXistenZ, something does horribly wrong, an assassin shoots her and her game pod. She flees with security guard Ted Pikul (Law) and the two go into hiding. Ted hasn't had the operation for a bioport, a small hole in your back that you fit the game pod's chord into. They need to get him one so that Allegra can play eXistenZ with him, and make sure the only copy of her precious creation wasn't damaged by the aforementioned assassin. They are transported into the game with new identities, constantly going in and out of reality and the imaginary. In the game, they begin working at a game pod manufacturing plant, Ted chops up various parts of lizards for the pods, and Allegra is a scientist who assembles them. This is just the beginning of a wild chase through multiple realities, true identities, and one horrific game called eXistenZ.

This movie really packs a punch. Everything in the movie looks great (except for Jennifer's horrific hair) and multiple dimension travel is made somewhat believable. The performances are above what is expected for a science fiction film. Jude Law is an excellent actor who is good in this movie despite it's strange premise. He's really showing quite an acting range. Poor Jennifer Jason Leigh, she can't do much in this movie, and her performance is the main letdown of the film. Willem DaFoe and Sarah Polley also make impressions in small roles. The sexual innuendo is interesting too. The gaming pods can't quite be described in words, think of them as squirming pink things that look like tumors. Also notice how the umbilical like chords reach into the backs of the game players. This has to be one of the weirdest films to come along in a while and it's limited theatrical release makes it a must rent video. I urge you to rent this great film, that asks the question...

Are we still in the game?


Frankie Paiva
[email protected]

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