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Ready Player One
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(Jul 24, 2018)
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Ready Player One (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Combo Pack) (BD)
From filmmaker Steven Spielberg comes the science fiction action adventure “Ready Player One,” based on Ernest Cline’s estseller of the same name. The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a reakneck, realitybending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger]]>
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Yes, this is a completely different story from the book...and I, for one, am pleased about that. Turning an 8 hour story into a 2.5 hour one will require some editing and usually bad editing at that, but instead of chopping the book up, the author, Ernest Cline, co-wrote the screenplay and started from scratch; rewriting the entire story to be more visual than cerebral and making it more for general audiences instead of just nerds and 80s buffs.
Consider this movie to be a parallel universe of the book where the same people make different decisions and this is the new outcome. I love the book and now this movie is my favorite. Worth owning just for the pop culture Easter eggs alone, but with a great story and wonderful acting, it's just a good investment as a form of entertainment in general. 6/5 stars ;-)
There is a lot of full cgi scenes in the film as it takes place mostly in a virtual space, I thought most of the cg looked great and fitting for the story and characters. The amount of pop culture references is nuts, I couldn't see them all, I think you could watch this 20 plus times and not even catch all the easter eggs and references. This film had references and things from some of my all time favorite films like Big Trouble in Little China, Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension, Back to the Future, Mad Max, etc. Towards the end there is a fight scene between the Iron Giant, an RX-78 Gundam and Mechagodzilla, it was quite simply amazing. The film overall felt like a lot of the Speilberg films I enjoy like, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Jaws etc. It has a brisk forward momentum action/adventure pace without feeling stretched or cluttered or over stuffed. Alan Silvestri’s score adds a Speilberg feel on top of the visuals, and I found all of the characters to be enjoyable and entertaining, I really like the High Five clan that Parzival becomes a part of, Aech and Art3mis and Sho and Daito all get moments to shine and do or say cool stuff that helps move the story along. I also like the story balancing between real life events with these characters in real world Ohio, and their avatars in Oasis.
I can’t say how faithful or not this film is to Ernest Cline's novel, but this film really makes me want to read it and that doesn’t happen too often anymore. The film kinda gave me everything I hoped for and wanted out of it, action adventure escapism fun just like Oasis and now it’s left me wanting more. This was just a fun, upbeat adventure film that delivered the kind of experience I wanted. Memorable characters and a memorable world, action scenes really added depth to what could have been just a bombardment of pop culture references for fan service. There are some meaningful messages as subtext in the film that don’t come across preachy, just insightful. This is I think my favorite Speilberg film since Munich (though a very different film by comparison). I think most fans of video games, anime, horror films, virtual reality and cult classic films from the 80’s will love this. But I don’t think you need to know or get any of the references to have a good time with Ready Player One. This film comes FULLY APPROVED.
Like the book, Ready Player One revolves around Wade Watt's journey through the Oasis to capture Halliday's Easter Egg. It is the 2040's and Watts is living in the slummy stacks, a towering collection of run-down mobile homes. At this point in history, man has explored every piece of earth and nearly depleted all of the natural resources. People largely take refuge in The Oasis, a virtual world that was crafted and governed by the genius James Halliday. When Halliday dies, he reveals that an easter egg has been hidden within the codes of his world. The finder of the egg will take complete control of The Oasis.
Beyond that premise, the book and film version of this story take very different directions. While both stories see the characters facing three challenges to ultimately reach the egg, the book and movie challenges are completely different. In the novel, the challenge are more about the mind than physical acts. Because film is a visual medium, Spielberg elects to make his challenges involve physical tasks and visually unique settings. Smartly, the film broadens its appeal by making references that are more widely known than the specific video game and Dungeons and Dragon lore. To be fair, keen eyed viewers will still spot several references that were mentioned in the novel, but there are more nods to different pop culture icons that there were in the book.
I'm usually not a fan of movies that stray too far from the book, but Ready Player One ends up being an exception to that rule. With Cline co-writing the screenplay, the film maintains the spirit of the novel while offering a fun and visually dazzling experience. For his part, Spielberg proves doubters that he still has the ability to make the kind of movies that have been missing from his filmography for the past 10 years. I'm happy that I can now enjoy both the movie and book for the wonderful and unique pieces of pop art that they both are.