View Full Version : Spielberg READY PLAYER ONE, 2018

04-01-2018, 06:09 PM
The notion of pairing a film about Pop Icons with a Director who is himself one (not to mention creating much of the iconography within the story-line) should, in theory, have resulted in either something grand or a fascinating disaster. But, as with much of Spielberg's work over the past decade or more, it ends up landing softly in between.

The plot is pretty simple even with all the high tech diversions. In the future (2045), an eccentric Game Developer Halliday (Mark Rylance, fine as always) has created the ultimate VR world where we are told millions chose to spend much of their 'waking' hours - Oasis. When Halliday passes on, he leaves behind the ultimate 'Easter Egg' - solve three clues, and you can inherit the rights to Oasis. Halliday is like a kinder, friendlier combination of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg (complete with elbowing out his co-founder Morrow (Simon Pegg). Our young hero Wade (Tye Sheridan) and heroine Samantha (Olivia Cooke) use their knowledge of Halliday and Oasis to try and decipher the riddle. Coming up against them is a generic corporate baddie Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn).

Of course, a film like this isn't about the plot as much as it is about the visuals and effects, and, ever the pro, Spielberg has assembled a talented team to pull those off admirably. His long-time Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski shot as much of the movie on film as feasible, but, with all the CGI, some parts were digitally captured and rendered. I saw it on 70mm film and it looked very good even if a movie about VR isn't the best usage of the medium. And, of course, much of the joy/task of watching R.P.O. will be a game of 'Spot The Pop Culture Reference'! Many of the images are so densely packed that it is impossible to see them on all in one viewing. This is one Blu Ray/Stream that will re-watched over and over by many.

There is fun to be had with R.P.O. even if it never truly takes off. The cast is game. The concept is understandable, and the payoff is suitably well delivered. But, without being ageist - this is very much a film from an older man's perspective. All the 80s and 90s references are explained as being from Halliday's childhood, but, it certainly doesn't help make the movie seem any less an exercise in half-baked nostalgia. Would kids two decades from now really find pop culture artifacts from 65 years earlier to be the hippest thing on earth (and, in the case of Harryhausen's Cyclops - nearly 90 years)!?? A few more nods to the 21st century would have been nice. Couldn't the bland white middle-aged evil Sorrento have been a woman? A minority? A robot? Anything else? But, this plays very plays like a movie that could have been made in the 80s if CGI technology had existed. As one friend said, it's like a Spielberg 80s movie - not one he Directed, but that he produced -- i.e. BACK TO THE FUTURE, THE GOONIES, *batteries not included etc.. Instead of his usual composer John Williams, we get Zemeckis fave Alan Silvestri who contributes another of his 2nd rate Jerry Goldsmith-like scores. Of course, it also has the problem that virtually all VR/Video-Game adaptions movies have - it's pretty boring to watch someone ELSE play a game.

READY PLAYER ONE is a decent diversion. Spielberg is such a master that even when he outright fails (B.F.G., HOOK), his professionalism never allows them to be truly awful. And, maybe, that's a problem with his more recent work. If you don't take big risks, you rarely achieve greatness. R.P.O. isn't bad, but, it's oh so safe.

Dom D
04-01-2018, 11:06 PM
If anyone knows of any links to the post production on this film I'd be curious to see. Can't find anything significant myself. Im confused as to what the thinking is on a 70mm release and am keen to understand. Is it just pure marketing or is there a purpose to massively upscaling the movie to print it on 70mm considering it was shot on an Alexa or 35mm?

Darcy Parker
04-02-2018, 06:47 PM
Anyone considering seeing this should check out the podcast 372 Pages We Won’t Be Getting Back. It’s Mike Nelson from MST3K and Rifftrax and Connor Listoka, one of the Rifftrax writers struggling to read the book, and it’s hilarious. They even did a follow-up season where they brutalized Armada, the second shitburger from Ernest Cline, and that’s even funnier.

Long story short, the books read like remedial middle-school Mary Sue fanfic, and are basically just lists of references for autistics to masturbate over.

Alex K.
04-02-2018, 07:17 PM

This confirms everything I predicted from the trailer.