Mindless fun at its very best
Ready Player One (2018): When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune
This post initially started as a Raw Thoughts piece then became a full review. The Raw Thoughts came to you from Brothers Bar & Grill immediately after seeing the film.
Wow. This movie is a lot of fun. The latest from Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One is a beautiful and pulse-pounding tribute to the world of science fiction. It's told in video game-esque style (which may not be for everyone) and looks absolutely stunning as it moves from sequence to sequence. The huge action setpieces are the centerpiece of the film, and is where it truly shines. Michael Bay wishes he could make setpieces that look this good. While there are a few problems with the film, (one in particular stands out…. We'll get there) this is a must-see for anyone who has even a slight liking of sci-fi, or really anyone who has a soft spot for the 80s. This is Spielberg at his best.
I'm gonna start with the negatives this time around. My biggest problem with this film is not with something it did. Rather, it's with something it didn't do: T.J. Miller. Why the F is he in this? Yes, he's funny here as one of the villains. T.J. Miller being funny is nothing new. However, he's been accused of sexual assault, and if the live-action All the Money in the World could replace Kevin Spacey in 6 weeks, Ready Player One absolutely could've removed T.J. Miller. C'mon, guys! Other than that, my issues with this film are relatively minor. Some of the dialogue is a little weak and leaves a bit to be desired. The ending sees a massive 180 in the main villain that isn't even remotely earned, and is just there because Spielberg wanted one more “gasp!” moment. Also, the easter eggs are fun, but if you are looking for any depth to them at all, move along. You won't find it here, and I do think that will turn some people off. But these complaints (outside of T.J. Miller being a thi-OSCAR! How is T.J. Miller still a thing? Can we stop that, please??) are relatively minor in scale for me. The rest of this film is amazing, and I love it.
Let's start with the effects. The VFX of this film is definitely its calling card, and well worth the price of admission. I stuck around through the credits to look at the hundreds, if not thousands, of people that contributed to making the VFX of this film, which combines stunning special effects with motion capture in a way that we haven't really seen before. I'd say expect to see a Best Visual Effects nomination for this come Oscars 2019, but then again I though Dunkirk / The Shape of Water were going to be nominated this year so what do I know? But this film is built on some incredible visual effects, so SURELY I'll get this one right. Anyway, the film also has some amazing motion capture performances from Tre Sheridan and Olivia Cooke. These two are spectacular, and are certainly making a name for themselves here. (Though all I could think of was Cooke’s deadpan performance from Thoroughbreds when I saw her on screen here. She's definitely a lot more fun to watch in that film.) Spielberg really tugs on your nostalgia strings, and I couldn't help but grin ear-to-ear at some of the reference. Like when the Iron Giant takes on mecha-Godzilla. Who doesn't want to see that? Or how about an entire sequence in The Shining? If you've been living under a rock for the last 3 decades and have no idea what any of these things are, it's safe to say you will be extremely lost during this film. But I caught a lot of them, and had a blast watching this film. Sometimes, it's nice to turn the brain off and enjoy a fun popcorn flick.
End of the day, Ready Player One is a technical marvel, and well worth a watch on the big screen. While it doesn't feel as groundbreaking as something like Dunkirk, the fact that I think this film is almost on par with arguably the greatest technical film to date certainly bodes well in this department for Ready Player One. Sure, this film is ultimately "just" mindless fun. The screenplay is a little weak overall in between the big setpieces. The romance between Wade (Sheridan) and Samantha (Cooke) is.....shallow, to say the least. And the 180 from the villain (played by villain actor Ben Mendelsohn) at the end is silly. But it's a lot of fun to watch, and I'll defend it the same stubborn way I do the Fast and Furious franchise. (Don't give me any grief about that, Oscar!) If you're even remotely a fan of science fiction, drop everything and go see this. Even if you're not, I think there's a lot to like here. See it with confidence knowing you're seeing one of the best films of 2018 so far.
The Critique: Ready Player One is the popcorn flick at its very best, featuring exhilarating action sequences and spectacular visuals, despite a rather shallow screenplay.
The Recommendation: If you're a sci-fi fan, it's a must-watch. If you're a fan of '80s films it's a must-watch. Everyone else? I say check it out, but you may not have as much fun as you would if you fell into either of the former categories.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great.
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