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Overall Rating

Awesome: 35.53%
Worth A Look42.11%
Average: 13.16%
Pretty Bad: 5.26%
Total Crap: 3.95%

13 reviews, 74 user ratings

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by Greg Muskewitz

"A unique eXperienCe!"
5 stars

Just start with the title: "eXistenZ." The spelling, the capitalization and the pronunciation are all original -- different from anything else out there. It's pronounced like the base of existential, not existence. It deals with the theme of escapism like an "alter-nate world" or verse.

But the "alternate world" is not like that of "Dune," where it's a completely different universe from our own, but more like that of "The Game" or "The Matrix," where the person is either placed in another reality or one that is created in the form of escape.

"eXistenZ" takes place in the near future. No certain time is specified. Personal lives have taken a backseat, and the world isn't used as it once was.

For escape, people play virtual games which use their own nervous system as a power source. Just like ear-piercings, everyone has a "bioport" -- a jack in the base on one's spinal cord. The game's controller, a MetaFlesh Game Pod, looks like a human organ wrapped in flesh, and through the game pod, an UmbyCord (like an extension cord) plugs into the player's back.

Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Allegra Geller, the world's most worshiped game creator. But she's also the subject of an attempted assassination by a group which calls itself "Realists."
"Death to 'eXistenZ!' Death to the demoness Allegra Geller!" screams an undercover Realist.

During a volunteer testing of her new game, "eXistenZ," Allegra is saved by public relations worker Ted Pikul (Jude Law), who is subbing as a security guard for the game's production distributor and producer, Antenna Research. The two are forced to flee.

Once they've found a place to settle down, Allegra begins to persuade Ted into playing the game. However, she'd rather experiment with her game than use it as an escape like most of her followers. The problem is that Ted doesn't have a bioport. The two must therefore go out in the middle of the night to find someplace that offers illegal bioport operations.

Though very nervous, Ted goes along with the plan. Once inside the game, he -- as well Allegra -- become unable to differentiate between reality and the game. Says Ted, "I'm feeling a little disconnected from my real life. I mean, I don't know where my body is, or where reality is, what I've actually done or not done."

"That's a great sign," says Allegra, "the game is a lot more fun when it starts to feel realer than real."

Once you've seen the movie, you will be able to disregard everything I've said. But to do that, you must see it for yourself.

Canadian director David Cronenberg conceived the original idea for the film from an interview with author Salman Rushdie. Cronenberg, well known for his science fiction films ("The Fly" remake, "Videodrome," "Scanners"), returns boldly after his misfired (though intriguing) NC-17 rated "Crash." This game could easily become addictive -- just watching the film kept me wanting more.

Cronenberg discards most real technology; there are no phones, no televisions, no computers. Yet his organic creations are idyllic and parsimonious. The details and the mutations, the desires and the creativity make this by far the best movie of 1999 -- not just in boldness but something on more of an allegoric (Allegra?) level. (Cronenberg even creates a glossary of everything in the film.)

The cast of "eXistenZ" is superb. Leigh ("Dolores Claiborne," "Washington Square") and Law ("Gattaca," "Wilde") are the excellent main show and work wonderfully. But the supporters also help form the film as a whole: Ian Holm ("The Sweet Hereafter"), Sarah Polley ("Go," "The Sweet Hereafter"), Willem Dafoe ("The English Patient") and Don McKeller ("The Adjuster"), among a host of others.

The beautiful look of the film was created by production designer Carol Spier, cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, with visual effects by Jim Issac and the eerie, haunting score by Howard Shore.

I'm trying to give the film a little extra push, not just because it's one of my favorites, but because a small film like this can easily get lost in the jumble of much bigger pictures.

See it. It's unique and you'll never live through a similar eXperienCe!

Final Verdict: A

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 11/18/99 03:59:48
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good ideas get lost in gross out effects 2 stars
5/22/10 Dane Youssef Superior to "Matrix" in ever way. Cronenberg refuses to disapoint. Wicked. 5 stars
7/03/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Cronenberg at his best 5 stars
3/25/09 JDigital One of the weirdest movies ever, great to watch on shrooms. 5 stars
3/18/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess One of the most imaginative films i've seen 5 stars
1/23/09 userNstuff this movie was freaking weird...not bad for 1999. seemed gay/homo? but had a cool ending 3 stars
1/06/09 FrankNFurter Awesome! Alien orifices and bug-like creatures.Classic Cronenberg madness! 4 stars
7/30/07 QC cRappY. Can't believe Canadian taxpayers money was used to finance this junk. 1 stars
4/29/07 William Goss Intriguing concept soon grows redundant and wearying. 3 stars
5/09/06 K. Sear Fantastic. Cronenburg keeps getting better with age. 5 stars
3/12/06 matt this blew my mind, i was affected for several hours after and somewhat lost sense of realty 5 stars
12/27/05 Stu Hasic As a regular computer game player, I found there were many levels to this movie. 4 stars
12/10/05 havthat I thought this was really interesting and beautiful when it came out. 4 stars
10/08/05 Mr Whuschatio Interesting and Grotesque 4 stars
8/13/05 ES What?!? guns out of mutant fish bones?= a bad dream after food poisoning 1 stars
6/06/05 Indrid Cold Ultimately it's satisfying, but the plot moves WAY too slow to even come close to "Matrix" 3 stars
7/23/04 Samuel a pretty decent film. 4 stars
5/25/04 Daveman like most of Cronenberg's films, underrated 4 stars
3/07/04 malcolm not at all intriguing. just F-ing wierd for wierds sake. 2 stars
2/23/04 Naturezrevenge Worst Cronenberg EVER, Intensely homoerotic symbolism. Loopy plot. Videodrome for idiots. 1 stars
2/15/04 Lou great story telling, superb acting & look/feel 5 stars
1/02/04 William so! I think it`s realy freaky movie and it`s hard to find a movie like that!! 5 stars
7/03/03 DANIEL YES BIZARRE 5 stars
6/29/03 Nicole Bizarre 4 stars
3/25/03 Al This movie sucks, has no plot or special effects and the ending is very dissapointing. 1 stars
2/14/03 Luke Naidoo Wonderful Movie, really unexpected ending 5 stars
10/29/02 Taylor James Reality becomes a vanishing subset 5 stars
9/22/02 Ostrich Eddie Nice visuals, one of my favorite cronenberg flics. Very subtle and powerful. 5 stars
8/09/02 Jiz Would have seemed good had I not already seen 13th floor, which is the same damn thing 3 stars
7/27/02 Bada Bing Crosby I loved 'Crash' & other Cronenberg but this one was off the charts, plus I hate JJL, alot 1 stars
10/13/01 Bevan R. Clark Kick ass Cronenberg doing what he does best! 5 stars
9/26/01 Grisu one of the best sci-fi films about virtual reality ive seen, maybe even the best one 5 stars
9/09/01 Gary Inventive and enigmatic. Law & Leigh are good, but the final act gets much too frantic. 3 stars
9/09/01 Michiel Huitema Best part is when you turn off the TV 5 stars
9/05/01 perverted pixie If you like mucus this film is your heaven 4 stars
9/03/01 The-Dude good film 4 stars
8/29/01 Gary Likeable and funny with good turns from Leigh and Law, but goes way too over-the-top. 4 stars
7/18/01 SF fan Very good work. 4 stars
7/14/01 Puggy D Come on epeople, Cronenberg just plain kicks ass. 5 stars
6/12/01 Gizzy Didn't appreciate it until that stunning ending...Good stuff 4 stars
2/22/01 trashstar I liked it alot, very surreal imagery and concepts. 4 stars
2/15/01 c. Walken Cronenburg doing what he does best - mutating things. In this case it's reality he mutates 5 stars
1/29/01 Soggy Bottom Boy The best of the VR genre! One of Cronenberg's best outings, kick-@ss visuals, FX & acting. 5 stars
1/08/01 The Bomb 69 the ending was a total mindfuck, by the way, are we in reality now? 5 stars
6/30/00 Bevan R. Clark Not being a diehard Cronenberg fanatic myself, I thought "eXistenZ" was a masterpiece. 5 stars
4/12/00 Dr. Rev. Krule, MD Why did Jennifer Jason Leigh have like 4 different hair styles? 5 stars
12/15/99 Silent Bob Gets You Thinking about Reality 5 stars
12/14/99 Aiken Drum was expecting more from the film so was a bit disappointed. I still enjoyed it though. 3 stars
12/01/99 James Cox Really cool movie 5 stars
11/22/99 Ralf Behet An unremarkable Cronenberg. The ending was particularly flat. 3 stars
11/20/99 John Linton Roberson At last, the real Cronenberg returns 4 stars
10/29/99 Bozo It was disgusting & I haven't eaten Chinese since seeing it ten months ago 1 stars
10/26/99 Karahde Khan Jennifer Jason Leigh is hot, the script is awesome, and the movie is pure intelligence. 5 stars
10/26/99 Dr. Fardook Lacks the cojones of his usual ... but still good 4 stars
10/15/99 Lame-Oh freaky as hell 5 stars
10/15/99 Tommi Neither Cronenberg's best flick, nor his worst 4 stars
9/17/99 strike one of the better Cronenbergs. 4 stars
8/20/99 JHON MARKY LION203 5 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Absolutely marvellous. Very um...visceral. I really like the way Cronenburg likes FLESH! 5 stars
6/05/99 Gasgano Good, but Phantom Menace was better. 3 stars
5/26/99 Mr. Film I saw it the night after Phantom Menace. It was BRILLIANT by comparison. Videodrome Lite. 4 stars
5/20/99 Heather Intriguing movie, you've got to admire Cronenberg 4 stars
5/15/99 Sanford Dostovesky Pure Genuis 5 stars
5/10/99 Ah Dooey Sci-fi at its best 5 stars
5/05/99 Jerry Excellent 5 stars
5/02/99 Ian Nathanson Give Videodrone a look first but applaude Cronenberg! 5 stars
5/01/99 Phlipit I was lost after the first scene but i don't give a damn it was simply smashing 5 stars
4/29/99 dirt very good 5 stars
4/26/99 kam cool 4 stars
4/26/99 Kirgo1 Original 5 stars
4/26/99 Mr Showbiz The latest take on virtual reality benfits from the vision of Cronenberg 4 stars
4/26/99 Justin S. Excellent. One of Cronenberg's best. Very strange and surprisingly funny. 5 stars
4/25/99 agustin interesting 4 stars
11/25/98 Lord Of The Dunce A really good film. Cronenberg might have broken through at last. 5 stars
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