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Ready Player One (2018) - Blu-ray Review

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Ready Player One - Movie Review

Movie Review

3 starsAnd you thought this weekend was when all the kiddos would be hunting for eggs!  How foolish.  Because here in OASIS, as Ready Player One enjoys a four-day opening, there are Easter Eggs galore! Can you spot them all? It will take years to list the references loaded into this adventure, but that’s one part of the fun in this entertaining ride through yesteryear.

Just don’t go in counting on the heavy stuff to get you through.

Ready Player One, full of references from Beetlejuice to The Shining to Duke Nukem and beyond, is definitely a movie for Generation X. Anyone younger than that can certainly catch up through the good old Google machine, but that is apparently not the point to this rollercoaster ride through Twin Pines Mall and Hill Valley because, as is suggested by this Willy Wonka-like narrative, reality, no matter how crappy it may be, is real and preferred. Wait. What?

Huh. Two hours and twenty minutes to say that? I know, I know. It’s the journey not the destination, but – damn it – when the purpose is to ride on the shoulders of The Iron Giant through the recycled past, well, quit junkin’ it up and get to the point already! Ninja-kick the damn rabbit!

Thunderous applause or booing follows the simple proclamation to shut off the screens, of course, as one has to wonder why – for a movie set 60 years after 1984 – those Ghostbusting good times were so damn influential to one man so far in the future. Bustin’ makes him feel good, I guess.  Good thing he didn't shut off his screen, huh?

Thankfully, we have an EXPERT director at the helm of this expensive (and, unfortunately, overlong) production to show us the way. Spielberg makes this chaos work. The end result is that we have a movie that dazzles more than it disappoints on its way back to the future even if it can’t possibly live up to its hype. It is all about the excitement and less about the honest reflection and, because it can confuse, it will be interesting to hear if others pick up on this unbalance in The Force.

Ready Player One, director Steven Spielberg’s stab at exorcising his own zeitgeist, is a dizzy new movie that contains a narrative that is at war with itself. It’s all about nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake in a virtual reality world that is both hyperactive and inviting, but it’s warm and fuzzy message of abandoning all screens and getting back to the basics in the real world that is beyond broken falls on deaf ears. When having this much shiny fun, why should we ever stop buzzing about in our DeLorean?

 

"Spielberg makes this chaos work. The end result is that we have a movie that dazzles more than it disappoints on its way back to the future even if it can’t possibly live up to its hype"


 

Based on the best-selling 2011 novel by Ernest Cline (who also co-wrote the screenplay), Ready Player One, starring Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke (who is far more interesting of a character than our hero is), IS much better than the book. Allow that to soak in, folks. The popular book, in my opinion, read like an encyclopedia entry to all things 1980s and killed any sense of momentum with routine trivia memorization that was really only for white boys and gamers to enjoy.

Spielberg’s movie attempts, haphazardly, to correct that with less of a reliance on female trophies (even though the tough-as-nails Cooke must surrender to the arms of Sheridan in order for Spielberg to find the movie’s warmth) and better secondary characters, courtesy of the talents of Ben Mendelsohn as the crooked capitalist and Mark Rylance, now appearing in his third Spielberg picture, as the originator of OASIS.

There is also healthy dose of BIG DUMB FUN, even if much of it is empty distraction…like those Easter eggs.

With a genius tracking shot designed to introduce the Ohio of the future, the story begins. Wade Watts (Sheridan), an orphaned teenager living in “the stacks”, gets the chance of a lifetime to go into the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), a virtual landscape where the reality of poverty (and its stacked RV trappings) is forgotten in an electronic atmosphere where anything is possible thanks to the whims of its creator, James Halliday (Rylance), who really loved the 1980s.

What fun for us! Stroke our egos. And, boy, does Ready Player One ever do that with its many, many, many pop culture references.  But what of its purpose?!  Ah, purpose is the poison to a damn good time and therein lies the trick.

Ready Player One (2018) - Blu-ray Review

If you are at all like me, you will wish the movie is more about Halliday and his strained relationship with his co-founder (Simon Pegg) than the plight of Wade and his avatar named Parzival. It’s not, though, and all we have is a reminder of Halliday's eccentric gentleness thanks to the surprises hidden inside "the matrix" in what he has created.  

Find the Easter egg and inherit the flash and the bang of a virtual world where Warner Bros – who granted Spielberg a very large canvas with which to party upon – reigns supreme. But Spielberg himself is not name-dropped.  Boo.  Would have been fun to throw in a lot of his early material.  Imagine Jaws and, as featured, King Kong going at it!  Oh, well, there is enough in this one to keep scholars searching for years to come. 

With a future as bright and as shiny as the gaming virtual landscape of Ready Player One, there is no choice but to wear dark, dark shades. But that might be just to hide all the bruises.

Ready Player One is alluring, yes, but classic Amblin it isn’t.

Film Details

Ready Player One - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language.
Runtime: 140 mins
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn
Genre: Action | Sci-fi
Tagline: A better reality awaits..
Memorable Movie Quote: "Ninjas Don't hug."
Theatrical Distributor: Warner Bros.
Official Site: http://readyplayeronemovie.com/
Release Date: March 30, 2018
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: Own Ready Player One on 4K UHD Combo Pack, 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and DVD on July 24, or Own It Early on Digital HD on July 3!
Synopsis: The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.

Blu-ray Review

Ready Player One (2018) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:
Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on Blu-ray - Own Ready Player One on 4K UHD Combo Pack, 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and DVD on July 24, or Own It Early on Digital HD on July 3!
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos-True HD; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz; French (Dubbed in Quebec); Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; Blu-ray copy DVD copy; Movies Anywhere digital Download
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A


The AVC encoded 1080p transfer from Warner Bros is presented here with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. And it is a beauty!

Spielberg and Co. have created an immersive virtual universe with Ready Player One and we are giddy over this release that begs an introduction to your home theater system. Warner clearly paid close attention to this release and they nail the transfer.

Spielberg's visual spectacle is a psychedelic color-fest with heavily saturated hues that pop and zing across the full spectrum while the super-rich blacks hold up nicely and never waver. This release is a true candy store of visual and auditory delight and Warner does not let us down with their handling.

Make sure your picture frames and nick-nacks have been secured before popping in the disc because the Dolby Atmos-True HD audio will have the entire house rocking with the up-firing front speakers getting maximum action as immersive sound works the room.


Supplements:

Commentary:

None. Spielberg doesn't do them, but the director gives plenty of commentary scattered throughout the special features

Special Features:

The disc is chock-full of nearly 90-minutes of extra features, including six behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews, and shorts. Have to admit that several of these were actually quite interesting and not the typical throw-away fillers. Best one the bunch is the Game Changer featurette that includes interviews with Spielberg and novel author Ernie Cline and lots of on-the-set-footage in the green screen studio.

The 80s: You're the Inspiration (05:38)
Explore the vibrant and creative decade that gave birth to author Ernie Cline's grand imagination and timeless novel. Steven Spielberg kicks off the special features with a talk about Cline's novel and its rabid fanbase before Cline joins the conversation with a conversation about growing up in the '80s, video game nostalgia, and how he was inspired by the decade.

Game Changer: Cracking the Code (57:22)
Journey alongside Steven Spielberg, his cast, and creative team as they push the boundaries of imagination in movie making to bring Ready Player One to the screen. Spielberg talks about reading the script and the process of working with Ernie Cline's team to abridge the story down to fit a two hour runtime. Also, a significant portion of the feature gets into some of the details of filming on a green screen stage with tons of actual footage from the filming. Especially entertaining is the conversation with Cline as he speaks to his inspiration from the decade of the '80s, where the title came from, and how Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka ties to the story.

Effects for a Brave New World (24:39)
Spielberg speaks about the differing looks of the two worlds in the story. Visual effects designers join the conversation with a lot of fascinating technical details of bringing the film to life.

Level Up: Sound for the Future (08:03)
Uncover hidden secrets of audio. A discussion about the sound effects and foley operations of the film.

High Score: End Game (10:04)
A rather lengthy look at the score which was handled by Alan Sylevestri rather than Spielberg's go-to composer John Williams. We learn that Williams was busy with The Post at the time of filming Ready Player One so Sylvestri was the guy. Includes conversation with many of the musicians involved in the score.

Ernie and Tye's Excellent Adventure (12:00)
Author Ernie Cline and actor Tye Sheridan join forces for a light-hearted discussion about the film's premiere at the SXSW Film festival in Austin, TX. The conversation takes place in Cline's Austin home. Most interesting is their conversation about Sheridan being only the third person to drive Cline's Back to the Future DeLorean.

There's also a Snapchat QR thingy on the front of the cardboard slip cover that when "snapped" reveals a Youtube video that says seven Easter eggs and one bonus egg have been hidden across seven Facebook pages. Following the Ready Player One Facebook page will slowly reveal clues as to the location of the eggs. Winner gets the grand prize of 4k Blu-ray player, a bunch of blu-ray discs. 1st runner up wins a VR headset plus Ready Player One on blu-ray, with the 2nd runner up winning Ready Player One on blu-ray

Ready Player One - Movie Review

 

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