The Thirteenth Floor

It'll make you cyberlaugh, it'll make you cybercry, just like cyberlife. Based on a 30-year-old SF novel, this Roland Emmerich­produced soft machine has not been usurped by The Matrix and eXistenZ so much as by the "Menagerie" episode of Star Trek. Even the F/X are dingy with vault dust. Here, a massive mainframe "experiment" jacks you into a fully functional repro of 1937 Los Angeles; when creator Armin Mueller-Stahl is murdered in the present, employee Craig Bierko plunges in to investigate. There are ideas— what do you do when, while plugged in, you end up preferring your evil mate's sweet- natured cyberidentity to the real thing?— but also a lot of technocrap and alligator-brain dialogue that only George Lucas could envy. (It doesn't help that Bierko comes off as a screen-saver merge of George Clooney and Nicolas Cage, with a cyberbeard that never grows out.) Has only David Cronenberg noticed that movies about alternate realities are kind of like novels about reading? One thing is certain: your boredom will be real.

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