Simon wondered what I thought of Avalon, and I sent him a quick reply. Here's a longer review with possible spoilers. Caveat: I watched Avalon on late night telly, so it might have been a less than engrossing experience compared to watching it in the cinema.
In a dreary and depressed city, people play a virtual combat game called Avalon to earn a living. One of the aces is Ash (Malgorzata Foremniak), a loner who lives with her Bassett hound (a recurring mark in director Oshii's films) in an small flat full of books. She finds out about an extra level in Avalon that can only be entered by defeating the Ghost. Initially reluctant, she joins an old team mate, Stunner (Bartlomiej Swiderski) and a mysterious Bishop (Dariusz Biskupski), in finding this Ghost.
Avalon is fairly dull and plodding. Director Mamuro Oshii overuses repetition in the first half of the film to suggest that Ash's world may be just a simulation. The central plot element of the film, the Avalon combat game, is devoid of tension and linear (defeat the grunts, then beat the boss). In the game, none of the actors look or move like players in fear of their (virtual) lives. The only standouts are the production design of the bleak city and cinematography.
0.5 out of 5 stars.