The Thirteenth Floor

Another virtual-reality SF movie. The main thing that distinguishes this one from the others is the fact that several of the people behind it (including director and cowriter Josef Rusnak, coproducer Roland Emmerich, executive producers Michael and Helga Ballhaus, and actor Armin Mueller-Stahl) are Germanthough a flat boilerplate English is spoken by everyone throughout. Mueller-Stahl and Craig Bierko play inventors who have simulated 1937 Los Angeles on a computer chip; when one is murdered in present-day LA shortly after returning from 1937, the other enters the same simulation to get to the bottom of things. But of course the bottom in this ponderous romp is more simulation: simulated past and present in terms of metaphysics, poorly simulated Blade Runner and Vertigo in terms of story structure and style, and simulated human beings instead of charactersa simulated movie, in short. When the hero finds himself doing the lindy hop in 1937, you don’t know whether the anachronism belongs to Mueller-Stahl or to the screenwriters (adapting Daniel Galouye’s Simulacron 3), and you’re not likely to care. With Gretchen Mol (a pale simulation of Kim Novak), Vincent D’Onofrio , Dennis Haysbert, and Steven Schub. (JR)

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