For some reason, 1999 was a year for a certain type of genre of speculative fiction that dealt with people completely immersing themselves in virtual worlds. There was The Thirteenth Floor, a film about entering a simulated world, and then there was the king of this new dystopian science-fiction, The Matrix, which I consider to be one of the greatest films of all time. Perhaps studios realized that science-fiction would be in demand after what was thought to be a hit with Star Wars: Episode I.
One of these films that probably fell by the wayside was eXistenZ, a film that I finally got around to seeing on Netflix the other day. I will have to say that I fully enjoyed it, as it delves into the complexity and repercussions of creating a virtual world.
The film begins with a focus group about to try out a game that is the same as the title. Apparently, the game will completely immerse a user into a new world, and, from what they are saying, it isn’t the first of its type. Although the story takes place in a future world, I found that the technology didn’t appear to look futuristic. Instead, the film created this odd sort of organic technology, which was worth watching just because of that. At the beginning, someone tries to assassinate someone with a gun that looks like a porkchop bone and fires teeth for bullets.
The film then becomes this complex plot where a game designer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and her protector (Jude Law, before he started to appear in everything) are on the run from a rival game company, and have to enter the game to stop them, I think. Yeah, I found that the plot of this film was more complex than Inception, and made as much sense as Donnie Darko. I’ll talk about the latter film some other time.
This is a case of a film that had more ideas than its budget would allow, and it did its best to work within those boundaries. Let me just say that if you are waiting for a character to step out and explain what is going on in the film, it doesn’t really happen until the end. I do not want to spoil the ending, but I will say that it was somewhat expected, yet still cryptic. You’ll probably have to see it a few times to get it, and you may not get it at all.