Friday, March 30, 2018

Ready Player One Movie Review

Ready Player One is a feast consisting of meat and potatoes for fans of media pop culture. Godzilla, Batman, Back to the Future, Tron, Freddy Krueger, Lara Kroft, Han Solo, Chucky, King Kong and many other classics of the past fill the screen in the latest film from director Steven Spielberg, whose excellent Oscar-nominated movie, The Post, hit theaters just a couple months back. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Ernest Cline, the story is set in the dystopian future of 2045, where an energy crisis from the depletion of fossil fuels, overpopulation and economic stagnation forces people to retreat into the OASIS -- a virtual reality simulator where people jump online and interact in a Willy Wonka world of video games and interactive romance. Wade Watts, the protagonist, is one of the millions who escape into the dream world daily, discovering the creator of the OASIS hid an Easter Egg. The first person to find the egg would not only receive financial wealth, but ownership of the OASIS. The creator may be long dead, but his legacy -- and true agenda -- mimics that of Willy Wonka. Along the way, Nolan Sorrento, head of operations at Innovative Online Industries (IOI), recruits debt-indentured players to find the Easter Egg and gain control of the OASIS. World domination was never so simple, and never so challenging.

Visually, this movie is a feast for the eyes. Spielberg himself said he never devoted more time overseeing the special effects for a movie since Saving Private Ryan, and had this movie been released in late 2017, it would certainly have won a few Oscars for special effects. Choosing to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, both Spielberg and Warner Bros. decided to move the release date to March for profit over awards. The visuals are dazzling at times while some scenes (more than likely deliberate) replicate the feel of a modern-day video game. One makes me wonder, though, if video games and virtual reality will be far superior in 2045 than depicted in this movie.

The story is perfect for a modern-day blockbuster, the kind of movie one expects to get from the price of admission and a bucket of popcorn. And while most of the elements were adapted faithfully from the novel, what changes were made are necessary improvements for visual storytelling. The two flaws in this movie -- which are essential for great story-telling -- are more than likely the result of getting as much use out of the licensing that took years to iron out. The overall lesson learned by the end of the movie -- spending time outside the OASIS (a.k.a. the Internet) to develop real-world relationships -- is obvious but not emphasized through example except for slum-like cities with barely any explanation of overpopulation, pollution, corruption and climate change. 

The love interest between the two leads (Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke) lack chemistry. Yes, they kiss at the end of the movie and he professes his love early in the story, but with the exception of those three scenes, one has to wonder where was the sparkle in her eyes? Have motion-pictures ventured into such cookie-cutter formula that we now expect the leads to fall in love but the necessity of how they meet, discover an attraction and motif for running into danger for the sake of the other no longer necessary for the story?

Do not get me wrong. This is a fun film. Had the script writers, editors and Spielberg included scenes explaining the horrific "real-world" issues that led to where mankind retreats into a virtual utopia, and had the two leads built a growing admiration for the other, this movie would have been the first film of the year to whole-heartedly recommend. That being said, if you can forgive those two flaws going in, you will enjoy the film.

Loaded with Easter Eggs throughout, my wife caught The Joker, Harley Quinn, a nod to Knight Rider and another to The Breakfast Club, which I overlooked. So many pop culture references you have to watch the film multiple times to catch them all. It was amusing to see nostalgic pop-culture references such as a verbal nod to the angel Clarence from It's a Wonderful Life, two references to Rosebud from Citizen Kane, and a pleasant surprise to hear Max Steiner's music score from the 1933 classic, King Kong, when the giant ape rampages through New York in the opening street scene. 

All of which is ironic when you consider the fact that Spielberg has spent the last decade or two investing money in video games and one wonders if this movie was not just a blatant commercial for the products he profits. 

1 comment:

Membuat Pupuk Sayuran Sendiri said...

nice review, you write it well and good

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