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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 October 2011
Existenz isn't Cronenberg's finest work, but it's possibly his most underrated. It's a terrific, intelligent science fiction film that honestly benefits from a 2nd viewing (for once) - I certainly enjoyed it just as much the 2nd time around. As Cronenberg doesn't really divulge what's happening on-screen until the film's final few minutes, a subsequent viewing offers an entirely different perspective, & there are plenty of subtle nuances you won't notice after a cursory viewing. Thought provoking, frequently bizarre & occasionally rather unsettling, it's certainly a film that you'll want to discuss afterwards. If you're a fan of Videodrome or The Naked Lunch you definitely need to see this too.
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Allegra Geller, the leading game designer in the world, is testing her new virtual reality game, eXistenZ with a focus group.

She is attacked by a fanatic assassin employing a bizarre organic gun. She flees with a young marketing trainee, Ted Pikul, who is suddenly assigned as her bodyguard.

Unfortunately, her pod, an organic gaming device that contains the only copy of the eXistenZ game program, is damaged.

To inspect it, she talks Ted into accepting a gameport in his own body so he can play the game with her.

The events leading up to this, and the resulting game lead the pair on a strange adventure where reality and their actions are impossible to determine from either their own or the game's perspective....

When I first saw this movie in the cinema, I loved it. Considering the year had some truly dire movies released in that summer, this was a nice tonic, as it seemed very clever and really original.

Fifteen years later, I still enjoy it, but have recognised many flaws in the film, is the acting really that bad, or is it some kind of in game thing going on, and the other one is, I really can't believe that this is still a 15 certificate here in the UK. it's very extreme in its ways.

More like videodrome than any other of his movies, Cronenberg appears to have sort of re-imagined that classic for the DVD/Fight Club generation, and succeeds on varying levels.

Law is fine in one of his first Hollywood leading roles, and looks comfortable with other big screen behemoths.

The story is paced well, and although the film is confusing at times, Cronenbrg does get his 'Brave new world' message across. And he was right.

Fifteen years later there are more on-line gamers, people walking down the street attached to Ipods/pads/phones than ever before.

Cronenberg tried to warn us that we are becoming xenophobic to the earth.

Maybe he is right.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 24 February 2003
Funny how a movie concerning games consoles manufactured from mutant amphibian organs can count as one of Cronenberg's more mainstream offerings, but there you go. Be aware this is not an action film: it requires attention from the viewer and rewards it well. It's a deliciously paranoid virtual-reality romp about the latest games sensation. In many ways it's the nineties succesor to Videodrome: the two films share various themes. Everything in the film looks fantastic in that classic Cronenberg slightly-unsettling way, from the sets to the spot-on casting: Jennifer Jason Leigh, as the game creator/celebrity, is unreasonably sexy. Jude Law plays a totally-out-of-my-depth guy well. The remaining mix of "real" and deliberately-cheesy "game" characters all convince. The script has a lot of fun playing with nested realities (I won't spoil it for you) with visual effects being low-key but well realised (with one exception). The ending isn't a major surprise, but never mind.
A real bonus is the director's commentary track, easily the best I've heard to date. The evil Mr Cronenberg tells us about the sets, visual effects (including the one deliberately- slightly-duff effect), actors' ad-libs, critics and other good stuff in a vaguely Hannibal Lector-esque deadpan.
A very tidy package.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2002
Cronenberg's masterpiece eXistenZ is one of the finest pieces of sci-fi ever written. Period. The story is certainly very involving, and definitely not for everyone, but if you can get into it it offers a highly interesting discussion on the subject of what we define as "real". Some very visceral special effects and truly unexpected plot turns, complete with an ending that throws the whole film into mystery, make this one to watch. One word of warning though - do not miss any of it! This film will make no sense if you miss a scene.
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Allegra Geller has just created a new game called eXistenZ. At its début someone tries to tooth her to death in the name of reality. Her body guard Ted Pikul in an attempt to save Allegra's life takes her on the run through reality and alternate realities. Does the daring duo escape and foil the bad instigator or will they be lost forever "neath the streets of Boston?"

If you are a fan of gore, slime, and tasty treats you may have an interest in this film. They attempt to create a "worlds within worlds" effect. However it has been done before and much better. You may want to watch "The Thirteenth Floor" (same year 1999) or read "Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy" by Jostein Gaarder.

Jude Law is always great in whatever character he plays. Somehow he has the possibility to have you believe he is the character and not just an extraordinary actor. Jennifer Jason Leigh is a cutie but her character is a little farfetched; she still cranked out quite a few films after this one.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 January 2013
I saw this at the cinema when it first came out and enjoyed it quite a lot. On DVD though it seems have dropped down a notch. The plot as much as I could discern is a new type of plug in to your body game. The crux of the movie is whether the main characters (played by Jude Law & Jennifer Jason Leigh) are still in the game or not. And that is it.... The usual Cronenberg obsessions with disease and the 'new flesh' (though not explicitly mentioned) are all present and correct.

The problem with the film is that I didn't care what happened to the characters. Perhaps thats because throughout nearly the whole film we were within the game, and the game state seemed to quite dream, or nightmare like. So whilst the characters acted out the game (or did they) I felt somewhat detached from the whole thing.

Still it is a Cronenberg film, and anything he makes is worth seeing, but he has done a lot better...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2000
Well my perception of the world has altered a little.
I left the film touching walls and looking at landscapes as if I was an alien in a strange land. Not to mention the endless philosophical rangling over what reality is and whether people should be 'woken up'.
The film can be enjoyed on many levels, so-to-speak - as action/fun or as a profound insight into phenomenology and IT (not I.T.!).
'Existenz' offers a simple plot of virtual reality with a bit of morality thrown in. The complex (and confusing) aspect comes from the levels of game-playing. If you persevere, the point will be made. It doesn't matter when the start was or which bit happened first. "To understand the game, you have to play the game". Sound familiar?
Enjoy.
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on 4 June 2015
An interesting sci-fi techno thriller that David Cronenberg returns to which sort of follows the same formula as Videodrome , however there is a slight issue with the dialogue and might be confusing for some viewers as Videodrome was in some ways. The acting is decently done bu Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh. There is also quite a few British actors in it including Law Ian Holm and Christopher Eccleston. Let's not forget Willem Dafoe who makes a creepy cameo. Cronenberg gives a compelling style on how online gaming as an alternate reality can be disturbing which again he did a similar thing with Videodrome on television, but it does not live up to the same height
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on 28 February 2012
12 years before Inception, David Cronenberg gave us eXistenZ, a great movie about virtual reality. It's pretty much a straight-up Cronenberg with nice lookings into bone, gristle and blood, but it also deals with a lot of stuff that computer and role-playing game designers should pay attention to.

I'd put it in the same category as Inception and Matrix because of the way it deals with virtual reality and how we as humans interact with this strange new world. Thoughtful and action-laden, but with a certain slickness in its appearance that works just as well at evoking VR as it did in A History of Violence when it was Small-Town America, Cronenberg explored.
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on 10 December 2010
Ms Jennifer Jason Leigh and Mr Jude Law explore the alternative worlds of David Cronenberg in this Movie about future Gaming. Without giving too much of the story away, Ms Leigh and Mr Law enter a world of 'full immersion Virtual Reality'. They become the principle characters in 'Existence', a major new video Game that 'Realists' a kind of Luddite Anti Gaming Movement is trying to destroy, along with Ms Leigh, the Games brilliant developer. Fans of Ms Leigh will enjoy this Movie as her Character takes on an almost 'Goddess' like beauty in the Virtual Landscape of the film, (she is already stunningly beautiful). It is a 'must have' for any Cronenberg Fan's collection.
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