CJP - wrote on 10/11/08
Action: 1.5 / 3, Comedy: 0.5 / 2, Good vs Evil: 0.5 / 1, Love/Sex: 1 / 1, Special Effects: 0.5 / 1, Plot: 1 /1, Music: 1 / 1 = 6/10 or 60%.
Certain concepts within eXistenZ are ahead of their time for it's 1999 release. Most notably the participants within the game that, after being defeated, simply watch the others play (this is also the role of the viewer). Modern websites that allow one to watch other gamers duel mold this theme into an oddly familiar one. The superior visual concept within the film are the game controllers, called game pods, which are partially constructed of amphibian organs and contain umbilical wires that jack into spines.
Cronenberg uses the controllers to offer compelling analogies of online gaming realities and their effect upon the real world. Unfortunately for the viewer these arguments evict the forefront and the actual addiction to the eXistenZ game, as well as the game itself, takes a backseat. Outside of a gun that one of the players constructs from his dinner's bones there is nothing creative or compelling enough to justify the latter arguments. While in the game the characters do not even engage the players and repeatedly get caught in programming loops. This pedestrian prediction of advanced role playing games makes declarations of how gaming realities are destroying the real world, and there are many, misplaced.
Similar films: Dark City, Paprika, The Matrix