Ready Player One – Review


“READY PLAYER ONE”

Ready Player One is a film that was announced around several cons last year. Based on the book with the same name, which I won’t claim to have read, but I have looked up brief synopsis and second hand information on the matter, the film writers have gone to Warner Bros, who had incidentally handed over directing duty to Steven Spielberg. Spielberg has one of two modes when he makes films, and one of them is his brilliant ability to do blockbusters, such as Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, you name it! Ready Player One’s other appeal was that it was going to be a pop culture phenomenon, with several licensed characters that would be making appearances since the idea was that it is a video game where you can create any sort of avatar. Ready Player One was met before its release with a rather cynical view, although clearly judging by the Box Office, that has not been the case, and even in my screening of the film, the room was mostly filled. So, the question now becomes,
“how did it turn out”?

Ready Player Ones is set in the year 2047. The real world has basically gone to pot so as a result, most of the people spend more of their time in a video game called The Oasis, which is kind of a video game/virtual world similar to that of Second Life with a bit of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft thrown into the mix, because it’s an environment where you can look and be anything. The world was created by a man called Halliday, played by Mark Rylance, however, before his death he decided to leave a little thing behind. The rules are quite simple, players would have to find three keys, the locations of which would all be in games that were hidden behind riddles. Whoever finds the keys would find the location of a Golden Easter Egg, which would give that play control of The Oasis. Five years have passed since that event, based on a player called Wade aka Parzival, played by Tye Sheridan is one of the few players searching for the egg. He is assisted by other players including Samantha aka Art3mis, played by Olivia Cooke. As a result, they actually figure out the first riddle to get the first key, however, this puts them in conflict with a Broadband company called IOI, which is led by boss man Sorrento, played by Ben Mendelsohn. It’s up to them to get the Easter Egg before IOI gets their hands on it and uses The Oasis to impress people even further and live it access to The Oasis by providing paywalls and subscription services. (Are you sure these guys aren’t an allegory for EA)!!

Seriously, I am surprised that the novel this is based on came out in 2011, this is prevalent in gaming now, especially with the Loot Box issue and it’s one of the things that took me a bit out of the experience, but I will explain that in a minute. One of the things that is astounding about Ready Player One is the simple cost that must have gone to Warner Bros. Warner Bros does not own all of these characters at this point in time. Ok, so they wouldn’t have any trouble with say getting, Batman, since well Batman is a DC character and DC is owned by Warner Bros. But the fact that this environment means that players can make their avatar a movie, a video game character, an Anime character, whatever, must have put them under a lot of strain. Say, for example Sonic the Hedgehog who only briefly appears in the background in a couple of scenes, at that point not only have you got to call up Sega to get the rights to use him, but you have also got to call up Paramount Pictures who hold the film rights for Sonic the Hedgehog and since Paramount is making a Sonic the Hedgehog film that will be coming out next year, you can bet they probably charged a high amount. You have also got to go to Microsoft and Bunji to ask about using Master Chief from the Halo games. You have got to call up Nickelodeon to get the Ninja Turtles. You have got to call up Blizzard Entertainment for Tracer from Overwatch, Sunrise Entertainment for Golem characters, it must have been a tall order. Now as big as a geek out that this film is and believe me, the references and the geek out moments are there, there are a few things that are obviously rather absent. Disney characters and characters owned by Disney are rather limited, although a few Marvel characters do make appearances, but Star Wars is largely absent from the entire film and I suspect Japanese companies were less than willing to give their licences as there are not as much Anime references as I was expecting. Maybe I missed them, but I only caught two, which was extra surprising since two of the main characters are Japanese. It’s not really a complaint, however, because the sheer amount they get is amazing and they never feel distracting, it’s just ‘huh, there is a character dressed as Hello Kitty or ‘there’s Deloreon from Back to the Future’. The book was firmly set around 80’s nostalgia, which was the intention of the author, so most of the references came from the 80’s, and the main character is based on Asian style. The 80’s Asian style certainly played a factor in it, it carried over from the novel quite well, however, to make sure there is more of an appeal, there are also a lot of reference for 90’s kids and millennials, which is much to the film benefit. It is also the reason why Set Anime didn’t play too much of a role, considering its phenomenon in popular culture is more of a product of the recent decade and it was more obscure in the 80’s and 90’s, with very few titles making their way over, hence the only two I could find were Akira and Golem. Though, I suspect a second watch will mean I will be able to spot more.

The sheer amount of references also will warrant a second run through, but as I mentioned, they never feel distracting.

The film isn’t really doing anything new, it’s a very by the numbers story. The sheer amount of pop culture that is put into the film is really what is helping it stand out. Though it never ultimately feels like a massive exercise in advertising. There are only a few blatant bits of advertising that I saw, mainly from Minecraft and Pizza Hut. The latter of which wasn’t even in the gaming world, which felt even more off. But the thing I appreciated about the film was, they managed to make both The Oasis and the real world feel very imaginative, there is clearly a lot of work that has been done. There is so much computer animation in The Oasis that it feels almost half animated. I have seen reviews that compare the film to Tron, which is not a bad comparison, the two films are very similar in a lot of senses. However, I also spiked comparisons to the TV series Sword Art on Line and there is also more a direct comparison in that this film is very similar to the movie to Summer Wars, which is a bad comparison to make considering that Summer Wars was a much better film!

It’s you very typical rebellion story, with the corporate big wig that wants to take over. Though it feels very modern in a sense of this is kind of what is wrong with the gaming industry today. Mainly, that he wants to make the full product be hidden behind a paywall that you will get over time. Something that is being scoffed at by gamers even today. Hell, this is even affected me the other week, I brought a copy of Sea of Thieves at full price, only to find out that I will not be getting the full content that I was promised until a few months down the line! If there was a company that was forcing these kind of things on this kind of game to me, you bet I will be taking up full arms and joining the rebellion!!! This is something that really takes me out of the game, considering that The Oasis would not be a good game in this sense, which is the mechanic of the game. Now this is where I go a bit off on my video game knowledge, considering that I play a lot of video games, but put it this way, most games of this type will punish you slightly if you fail, but you also have an opportunity to build back your success, so it will only be a slight inconvenience, other games are the exception (insert Dark Soul’s joke here)!

The Oasis doesn’t give that option, it’s a one life system, you lose and you lose everything. I mean everything!!! You have to start your character from the ground up. I guarantee, anyone who would play that game would get frustrated and leave immediately. The game does kind of show you that only certain players take the risk and the majority just stick to building up their character to the stage they want to and then just play the game however they want. It’s not a major criticism, but it is something that took me out of the story, which is kind of weird because its sounding like I really didn’t like this movie! No, I really liked Ready Player One.

Ready Player One has a ton of flaws, there are plot holes at the Wild Zoo including, why the hell it took five years for any gamers to figure out the system. I am telling you, with these modern completions culture, there is no way you would ever get into a situation where it would take five years to figure out. Someone would figure it out!! The creator of Five Nights at Freddies can’t even hide half of his content for more than a few months and he is being deliberately cryptic. What’s more, I am surprised no one ever thought to hack the game, this is done all the time!! Where do you think half of the controversies around Grand Theft Auto came out, it’s because someone was hacking the system to modify it. Gamers do this all the time!

But despite all of that and some of the stupid moments, Ready Player One is Blockbuster entertainment in its purest form. It’s one of those films that you just shut up and enjoy it’s the ultimate decant movie. But it also holds some of its own original identity. It has certain ideas of what it wants to be and it goes for it. Spielberg is really good at doing these fun Blockbusters that are just good popcorn fun. This is an excellent “turn off your brain” film as a result, since it’s not insulting to the viewership.

The characters aren’t amazingly interesting. Samantha is kind of an interesting character in that she doesn’t want to get close to Wade in the real world because she believes he will be disappointed by her birth mark on her face, something that doesn’t play as much of an impact as you would expect, but that is really the only edge to her. Granted I have read a bit about the characters in the book and frankly it feels a bit like they are improvements over their book counterparts, who are not incredibly enjoyable. These ones might be a bit blander, but as a result they are also a lot more likeable. The other main characters include Aech, who has a cool design and interesting pay off when we find out about them in the real world, along with Sho and Daito, the Japanese siblings who are dressed in Samurai gear in the real world. They are given some good times to shine in their own individual moments and they work quite well. The characters as a whole, give some pretty good performances. Tye Sheridan, who is a decent up and coming actor, who recently played Scott Summers in the recent X Men Apocalypse moves well into this role, he certainly has a bit more credibility to his career, though now thanks to this film and playing Cyclops in some of the X Men movies, he is set for life with Cons. Olivia Cooke gives a decent performance, she is a lot less recognisable, she had a small role in Ouija and also played Rachael in Me Earl and the Dying Girl, but there is not too much to her, she also played Lizzi Cree in the Lion house Golem, which was another decent performance. Lena Waithe has a good role and gives a decent performance in the film and I did enjoy Phillip Zhao and Win Morisaki, who give some excellent performances. The veteran cast is also pretty good. Ben Mendelsohn does a pretty good job as the corporate big wig and I also really liked Mark Rylance’s performance, he does a very good job playing the introvert who doesn’t really understand the rest of the world. Simon Pegg is in the film briefly, but he is given a rather thankless role, which never feels like it hits the significance the creators were aiming for, but as usual, it’s Simon Pegg and he is good even in terrible films! T.J. Miller is back in this film and his performance is rather middling for me, he’s not as bad as in his performance in the Emoji movie, but it’s not as good as his performance in Deadpool.

The special effects and action scenes are both shot amazingly. I normally don’t like action films and over use of CG for action scenes, but man does this film get it right. These scenes are shot great and I really enjoyed it overall. This includes a couple of absolutely brilliant battle scenes later on, which I won’t dare spoil, since they have some excellent choreography and I believe those moments are best experienced for yourself.

Ready Play One might not be an amazing ground breaking film, but it’s an excellent popcorn film, with tons of excellent moments to geek out with. I am going to re-watch this film a couple of times, considering how many references there are in and just trying to spot all of them!! Spielberg delivers an excellent Blockbuster, but it also has an interesting message, which I think a lot of people can take to heart. It’s just a really good film that made me happy and to be honest, after the last couple of weeks, considering some of the films I have reviewed, I will personally take that.

I saw the film in Imax 3D and you would expect a film like this to do really well in the 3D, and believe me there are some good scenes for the 3D, but I don’t believe it’s necessary for your enjoyment and a 2D screening will do you just as well. Fortunately, this film knows how to shoot 3D since most of the scenes have plenty of light and most of them use heightened scale to highlight the 3D. Despite the fact this film has a 12a rating, I would err a bit of caution in taking kids to see it, the middle portion of the film is taken up by the second challenge which is related to an 80’s horror movie, which is definitely not a 12a. I would also like to point out that half the jokes and references in that scene you are not going to get if you haven’t already seen the film, which I am pretty sure that some of the younger members of the audience I was with had not.

Well that’s it for this week. I’m wasn’t sure what I would review next week, since it was between the re-make of Death Wish or the horror film A Quiet Place, but I don’t have much of a connection with Death Wish so I will skip it and do a horror movie next. Next week I will be reviewing A Quiet Place.

Thanks a lot for reading my review. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it and in case you are wondering, I have had a hard time deciding what my Avatar would be since I was considering at one point doing Deku from My Hero Academia or Darkwing Duck, but I decided I would go with Sonic The Hedgehog.
 
Calvin – Nerd Consultant


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11th July 2018
at 12:30 pm
The Next Axia ASDis 18th July 2018
12:00 pm to 2:00 pm

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