Thirteenth Floor

It is too bad that the Thirteenth Floor came out after The Matrix. In a summer filled with stories that seem to feed off each other, the second one out will lose. The Matrix is also a lot flashier, with many special effects, more fast paced and action oriented. That is too bad, since this is not a bad movie. A group of scientists created a virtual world set in 1930s Los Angeles. Each character in the virtual world is modeled after someone in the real world in appearance only. Thus, when you go into the virtual world, you become someone else.

One night, the creator of the virtual world, Hannon Fuller (Armin-Mueller-Stahl, The Third Miracle, The Commissioner) stumbles upon a secret. Something terrible and terribly important. After trying to contact Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Sour Grapes), he is murdered. Hall is the second in command on the project, and the primary suspect. However, Hall knows that he did not kill Fuller, whom he considers a second father. The strange thing is that he can't remember what happened the night of the murder, so he may well have done it. Gretchen Mol (Cradle Will Rock, New Rose Hotel) is Jane Fuller, Hannon's mysterious daughter who appears after his death. Hall enters the simulation with the help of Whitney (Vincent D'Onofrio, Claire Dolan, The Velocity of Gary), one of the programmers, to search for clues in Fuller's death. The longer he is in the simulation, the more he realizes that the clues to Fuller's death are probably in there. Once again, thanks to over revealing commercials and trailers, we know that Hall discovers that the world he lives in is itself a simulation. He may be just a computer program within someone else's simulation.

In terms of originality, Thirteenth Floor comes in first. The story is based on Simulacron-3, a story by Daniel Galouye, which came out years ago. The special effects are so-so, but again, this is not a special effects movie. The Thirteenth Floor is more of a stylish movie. Many of the sets used for the present day are somewhat lacking, but the sets used for 1930s Los Angeles are gorgeous. As Hall looks around in wonder at what is around him, you are doing the same thing. Roland and Ute Emmerich, the same team that also brought us Independence Day and Godzilla produced Thirteenth Floor. Thankfully, this film is much better than the latter.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated R for some violence and language.

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