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Ready Player One (2018) - Movie 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.

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: No details available.
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

No details available.

 

Ready Player One - Movie Review

 

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