Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Ready Player One

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    1,535

    Ready Player One

    Ready Player One (2018)
    Directed by Steven Spielberg

    As iconic as the hero is (they usually are), and as humble as his beginnings were (why do they always lose their parents), we know he will triumph in the end (they usually do). Young man versus corporation that throws everything they have at him – assassins and killers make attempts on his life, steal his girl, kill his family/friends – wins the game against all odds. If you think I’m giving away the plot of “Ready Player One,” you’re sadly mistaken.

    I’m talking about “Tron,” a movie made in 1982 with the exact same storyline, almost to a “T,” with a virtual video world, video villains, and a video game war fought in virtual reality. Though the special effects are light years ahead of the past, the story runs the same gamut for its hero. This would be where the reviewer stops writing and you the reader quit reading, turned off by the simplicity of the story; and if I or you did, you might miss out as I mention some incredible effects and “Easter Eggs” that both Spielberg and the story’s game designer create as a challenge. Think of “Ready Player One” as a massive game of Trivial Pursuit crossed with Peter Jackson’s “Return of the King.” The same massive battlefield climaxes both films, whose logistics must have driven the special effects artists mad by including so many characters, it’s impossible to count.

    Of course, this film harkens back to an early Steven Spielberg, when he and Robert Zemekis (whom he also pays homage) made “Roger Rabbit” (Amblin Studios) also packed with recognizable characters. He never does anything small or trivial. The game world in this film is the most complex, most elaborate, and most involved level of special effects ever put on film. The landscape is so vast that it would take at least three or four views of this film to capture even part of the detail Spielberg inserted into the gaming world. So that while the plotline is very simple, its execution is not; far from it. In this case, you go to see how incredible and imaginative Spielberg can be… and he is.

    Based on the 2011 novel by Ernst Cline, “Ready Player One” takes its title from the gaming world when the system is loaded. In the old days, you waited for the program to load and then the screen would announce, “Ready, Player One.” Just as iconic as “You’ve got mail” was to AOL, “Ready Player One” put Atari on the map and is a crucial part of this homage to video games and 1980’s era movies. Characters from video games pop up all over the place and I defy you to find and recognize them all, they come at you that fast. In 3D, it becomes a tidal wave of detail, impossible to decipher in one sitting.

    Here’s the story synopsis as it unfolds. The future is upon us and it’s as bleak as it was in “Elysium” where the majority of the “lower classes” live in “stacks” of trailer homes to make use of depleted space. Of course, these locals are about as plausible as Mad Max would be for our future (EV’s kind of pulled the rug from that). No American would ever live under such squalid conditions. However, we’re led to believe that due to climate change, corporations run things and the government, if there is one, has little to no power (though they do make use of the police, twice).

    Protagonist Wade Watts – who goes by the avatar Parzival – (Tye Sheridan – X-men Apocalypse) like so many in the stacks, lives to play inside the Oasis – a massive virtual reality world where people live their lives through their avatars. Here, also, are his friends – a cast of irregulars right out of the “Goonies” – who give him moral support when it comes to finding romance. The “girl” of interest is Art3mis (Olivia Cook), a slim slick virtual “kick-ass” player – his female counterpart. They race around the landscape in the hopes of finding “Eggs” left by the original game designer, James Halliday (Mark Rylance, BFG). Of course, they’re up against the corporate bad guy who tries to stop them at every turn. Despite sending killers in both reality and in the game world, Parzival prevails.

    My favorite scene is – during one egg hunt – when they enter the virtual movie set of “The Shining,” duplicated down to the smallest detail. As one of the trials, they had to search for a clue within the film’s construct. Wandering around the sets trigger moments from the film – everything from waves of blood, to those bothersome twins. Spielberg paid special homage to Kubrick using this trope, as this scene wasn’t in the novel. (He finished Kubrick’s last project “AI” – a look at a different vision of the future.)

    Spielberg’s 175 million dollar gargantuan is full of amazing special effects but very short on story depth. Still, I wouldn’t have missed seeing this film in 3D as it is the most effects-laden movie ever made. Regard it as the best ride at the amusement park. You’ve waited in line and then you ride it. When you get off, you tell your friends how much fun you had. But each time you ride it, you come to the realization that it’s a three-minute thrill and not much more. No surprises here except incredible effects which you’ve never seen in any movie… until the next one comes out.

    “Ready Player One” is a fun cinematic romp but no great soul searching or even deep romantic scenes. The emphasis is on the virtual world, a shiny pretty jewel that rests inside a shiny pretty box. Minus John Williams, Alan Silvestri delivers a competent score that sounds vaguely like “Back to the Future,” quite often. Whether he did this on purpose or not, Spielberg also squeezes in some popular songs from the era in the same way “Guardians of the Galaxy” did. The sweeping camera moves are all computer generated so not much for the cinematographer to do except when they leave the virtual world and have to act on sets outside it. Michael Kahn returns to edit as he’s done with every single film the auteur ever made. The pacing is quick and ending comes after a protracted series of hurdles Parzival completes. The 3D version was fun to experience as I knew it would be. I’ve a terrible feeling Amblin is about to kiss 175 million dollars goodbye. With so little meat and all frosting, the audience may find other bill of fare more satisfying than this rather fluffy cotton candy piece of filmmaking.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,643
    I wish you were around more of the time. Actually all of the time. As you might notice if you look at the Festival Coverage section, I've been pretty busy over the past few weeks and that's probably why, apart the unpromising reports, I haven't seen this which you make me want to see - almost. And Soderbergh is the other famous director who with Unsane has another unpromising-sounding new movie I haven't seen that's showing at the big cineplex near Union Square where I see most major commercial releases when in New York. Please look at my Rendez-Vous with French Cinema and New Directors/New Films coverage for Mar.-Apr. 2018.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    1,535
    I wish I had your review talent. I lack the analytical temperament and fluidity of prose needed for most modern criticism when it comes to thematic material. Spielberg laced the film with all kinds of 1980's references. While I recognize them, I'm not capable of relaying their meaning in critique form. My reviews are rather pedestrian at best. I give my impression and apply what little film knowledge I've gained through the years - college, LA, you guys. Sometimes I long for our days of innocence when the rest of internet didn't have so many outlets and brilliant cinematic minds gathered in this forum to espouse. Ah, nostalgia; a dead end street.

    I miss you, too.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,643
    Your personal knowledge of the film industry and many genres far exceeds mine and I don't see anything less pedestrian in what I write or anything flat in your prose. Also, I can't review everything, though it might look like I'm trying. If I get to see this new Spielberg movie I will come back and read your review with special care. I'd like to know what else you've been watching lately.

    The San Francisco International Film Festival is gearing up (April 4-17, 2018). I've compiled a text list people can refer to of the offerings HERE. This is to replace the thumbnail images list that forces you to wade through pictures to get to the alphabetical list.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,643


    Crazy about the multiple 70's and 80's pop references, the French critics have showered Ready Player One with raves - AlloCiné press rating 4.2 - much higher than the US Metascore of 64%.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 05-05-2018 at 06:35 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,643
    I've finally seen Ready Player One today, almost a month late. This isn't going to be a review, just a response and comment on your review. You reveal right away a much better knowledge of video/computer games and of pop culture (and memory of Tron) than I have, what is necessary to appreciate this movie. I was more interested in Tye Sheridan and how things looked. I bore in mind a comment by Anthony Lane at the end of his review: that he had precious little emotional response. This is a movie for fanboys. I gather that video encounters/dates/hookups/battles between real people in cyberworlds is a fixture of fanboy fantasies and forum posts. Today being Saturday, the noon show, though in a smaller auditorium of the cineplex, was well populated by fanboys and fangirls who chuckled appreciatively at various points. Appreciative chuckling may be the desired "emotion."

    While you were no doubt shrewd to open with Tron, cinemabon, my mind was on another cyberworld romance I saw recently, Luc Besson's Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. That was a French production and did well in France but tanked critically here, with Metascore in the 50's, while this one's in the 60's. Valerian has a lot of motion capture and tons of CGI adventure and is beautiful. The difference is that Dane DeHaan is a remarkable actor. Pretty much wasted, especially considering that few saw this movie.

    Tye Sheridan started as a real actor as a youth. His first role was in Tree of Life, followed by two similar rustic, rural dramas, Jeff Nichols' Mudd with Matthew McConaughey and Joe with Nicolas Cage. Since then he has become a blockbuster journeyman, playing young roles in big bucks movies. Here he seems more like a narrator than an actor. He also plays a body, as himself and a motion-capture thinner fantasy version of himself, who falls in love, through his cyber adventures, with a girl whose avatar is called Art3mis.


    Valerian and Dane DeHaan

    As luck would have it Dane DeHaan has had one dog after another, and Tye, on call for blockbusters, msut be making good money. It doesn't seem fair. DeHaan got a role in a blockbuster too, the Green Goblin in The Amazin Spider Man. Got a Terrence Malick role too, but a more minor one, in Knight of Cups, a Metascore 53% Malick vs. his 85% Metascore Tree of Life. There are some great performances by DeHaan out there to be seen, in Chronicle, Kill Your Darlings, The Place Beyond the Pines, his terrific run as "Jesse" in "In Treatment."

    The plot of Ready Player One is lame as well as - as you have pointed out - familiar. It exists as a prop to hang all the visual action on, ending with a feel-good finale. There is also tons of narration, because the visual action in itself makes very little sense, and requires constant explanation. The movie doesn't prove its claim that "everybody" lives in the cyberworld of "The Oasis," and a world where that was true is inconceivable. We can only believe that teenage boys, and some idle girls, do.

    I am obliged to you for pointing out that Halliday is played by Mark Rylance - one of the best actors in England today, perhaps the greatest, who can play anything, and do a bang-up job of it. He was the pilot of the small boat featured in Chris Nolan's Dunkirk. His virtuoso performance in Jerusalem is one of the greatest of many notable theatrical roles. The talented Charlie Plummer (All the Money in the World, Lean on Pete) has said that seeing Rylance perform on stage in Jerusalem when he was twelve was what inspired him to become an actor.

    Spielberg, I was thinking, made another film that had fun-fair artificiality of CGI in it, but a tremendous emotional core, which this quite lacks. I mean A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, of course. Generally it's obvious that films with an intensive use of CGI swamp actors and their performances, though good acting will still shine through, hopefully, but I thought that Haley Joel Osment's performance as "David" in A.I. is one of the most remarkable and powerful I've ever seen by a young actor in a motion picuture. It feels as though Tye Sheridan is just reciting his lines and narrating the picture, because that is what he is given to do. (He has said that working with Spielberg was a great experience; why wouldn't he and why wouldn't it be, if he signed on for this role?)

    Spielberg's reproduction of The Shining I grant is a great idea, but I can't agree that the movie is "duplicated down to the smallest detail." That's a bit overgenerous. It's very elaborate, but still in places inaccurate - the blood from the elevator, for instance - and doesn't really capture the mood of The Shining very much at all (maybe it doesn't want to, out of respect). But your review is, as I said, informed and informative in multiple ways that I would not be capable of. I did enjoy and appreciated some of the period pop references, such as The Breakfast Club and the BeeGee's "Staying Alive." But I have never been a fan or player of video games.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 04-28-2018 at 11:01 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    1,535
    I'm glad you took the time to see it, Chris. I know your schedule is very busy and this is a puff piece, not worthy even of Spielberg (and wonder why he took the time considering so many younger directors could have handled this chore). However, when you brought up Valerian, you also evoked a very strong emotional response from me about what I consider to be one of the most beautiful science fiction films ever made and one of the most ignored. Touted from its first trailers this way, I went thinking the theater would be packed with sci-fi fans only to find the theater mostly empty. I went twice, not because I adored the actors or even the plot but to see that lush opening in its most decorative form, a painting of pale beauty spread across a hundred foot screen with such delicacy that it took my breath away, and few films from this jaded 66 year old do that any more. I see CGI dripping out of computers as so much flash and so little soul. Valerian struck at the heart of this writer as having more depth than its shallow hero exhibited. I have my own copy and watch it now and then when I feel lackadaisical.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,643
    I have been saying Valerian is at least as good but maybe I should say it is much better than Ready Player One. This is a case where your review at the time would have been welcome. I did think it was beautiful CGI, and I thought it did better in France. At the box office maybe it did, but I see it has only a 3 on AlloCine, which is not a very good critical rating. Here its Metascore is 50-something, lousy. I also was sad for it because I think Dane DeHaan is a great actor. I know he is.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,643
    It troubles me that Dane DeHaan has been in movies nobody has seen, lately, namely A Cure for Wellness and then Valerian. The IDMB blurb on him starts off, "Dane DeHaan has made a formidable impression on film and television audiences and is one of the industry's most sought after actors of his generation." Who's seeking, then? Is it him, or the industry? Isn't he handsome or sexy enough? Or tall enough (5'8", it says)? Gee.

    Tom Cruise is 5'7". . .
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 07-28-2018 at 11:20 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    1,535
    Gore Verbinski (A Cure for Wellness), used to being at the helm of the "Pirates" films, has made some interesting choices otherwise; such as Rango - a film I loved at the time of its release and should be around on this site, somewhere. According to Wiki, DeHaan's reaction in the dentist chair was genuine as he expressed anxiety over the use of a "rubber" dentist drill on his mouth. So much for method acting. He's set to appear as Billy the Kid later this year. I'll be watching.

    As to my review for "Valerian," I have to cry mea culpa. It was my bad. I should have submitted and I own up to that shortcoming. Post analysis would be redundant. I apologize for whatever that's worth in this day and age of people apologizing for their errors in judgment when it comes to social faux pas. You can be as sorry as hell but if you raped someone, you should have to pay the piper. Were we too dismissive of Kevin Spacey? How many other male actors asked aspiring young men up to their hotel rooms in the 1970's or the 1980's (since we seem to look back with rose colored left-wing liberal glasses on)? I shudder to think of the stars I knew about in the 1970's Hollywood who were picking up homeless boys from Santa Monica Boulevard, screwing the hell out of them for one night and then spitting them back out on the streets with a mere penitence, night after night. All too common back then. Where's the righteous indignation to those crimes... and they were criminal, the way those boys were treated. I know. It happened all around me. I was lucky. I didn't have to resort to hustling. I had a job. But I saw it happen again and again. What about those stars? What about those boys? Why does Kevin Spacey have to take the brunt of this assault on morality.... but I suppose that's the subject of another thread.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
    Posts
    1,535
    Did I open a can of worms? If you believe I did, just delete my post, Chris. I'll let you make the call. You have friends who look at your reviews. I don't want to rock the boat or upset the apple cart.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    12,643
    That is another subject, for sure. I can't delete other people's entries. I hope Dane DeHaan will have more luck with his roles. Not sure about Billy the Kid.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Utah, USA
    Posts
    1,629

    Cinemabon Eeriely Like Chris

    There's a good kind of creepiness in Cinemabon's review of this movie. It hauntingly reminds me of the approach taken by Chris Knipp in his typical execution of plot detail and then inserting at various points judgmental comments with good precision. I really can't add nor disagree with anything that Cinemabon has accomplished in his commentary as I feel like a naïve student of the virtual reality/video game arts. I will leave such judgments and rich factual chemistry to the true artists of the genre.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •