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Past Posts

Avalon: For Want of an Editor, Stars Were Lost

This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.

Mamoru Oshii, the director of Avalon, also directed Ghost in the Shell and Assault Girls. These fine cinematic experiences were rated three and four stars respectively, by me.

I wish I could do the same for Avalon.

Avalon tells a story about the game that preceded the one we see in Assault Girls. Malgorzata Foremniak plays Ash, one of the top Warrior players in the Avalon game. She's the first player we see, running through an urban battlefield. I liked Foremniak as Ash. She looked to be about in her mid thirties, with dark circles under her eyes. I'm not going to argue that she represents some brave new frontier of casting women as leads who are not young and culturally approved as attractive, but she was not Megan Fox. You can tell the difference also because Foremniak can act.

(I'm not sure why she has to get in the VR chair in her underwear to play the game, but if many female superhero comic book characters got the body coverage from their costumes that Ash does from her underwear alone, I'd have a lot less to complain about.)

Ash is a strong and cunning character throughout the film. Her character isn't betrayed with a flimsy romantic subplot or a damsel in distress moment. She's motivated by personal achievement, but another side of her character is also developed. She's not just a piece for the filmmaker to move around in the film. She's great raw material for a Heroine Content four star film.

Unfortunately, Avalon desperately needed to be half an hour shorter. It just would. not. end. Yes, we get it, Ash plays the game a lot! She almost doesn't do anything else! (Granted it's how she earns a living.) Yes, we get it, there's a woman singing about the island of Avalon in some deep and symbolic way! For like fifteen minutes! NOW WILL SOMETHING PLEASE HAPPEN!?!

What would probably have been meaningful and full of rich detail in Ghost in the Shell was exceedingly dull here. I thought it was just me, because I was a little tired when we sat down to watch it, but no. I have independent observer agreement that this film desperately needed an editor. The independent observer said "You know I like some Russian films, and all I'm saying is that when nothing happens for half an hour in a Tarkovsky film, it's interesting."

Assault Girls is about 40 minutes shorter than Avalon, and I remember both of us saying "well, we're not sure what else needed to be in there." Answer judging from its predecessor Avalon? Nothing. So if Netflix says "Oh, you liked Ghost in the Shell and Assault Girls, so you will probably like Avalon," THEY LIE.

Two stars anyway, 'cause of Ash, but I can't give it any more.

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