Ready Player One

GoMovieReviews Rating:

Rated: MReady Player One

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Screenplay Written by: Zak Penn and Ernest Cline

Based on the Novel Written by: Ernest Cline

Produced by: Donald De Line, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Spielberg, and Dan Farah

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki, Hannah John-Kamen, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance.

Based on the dystopian world created in the novel written by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One opens in an overpopulated Columbus, Ohio, 2045.  A place where Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) wants to escape every chance he gets because he’s living in the Stacks… with his aunty and loser boyfriend… sleeping on top of the washing machine…

Wade thrives in the OASIS, a virtual universe where he feels alive, where as his avatar, Parzival, he has a chance to win the ultimate prize: control of OASIS.

When James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the brilliant and eccentric creator of OASIS dies, he leaves a parting gift to the world – the final game where any player can win.

Somewhere left in the game are three keys that when found lead to an Easter egg: whomever finds the egg first wins the game and control of OASIS, meaning half a trillion dollars and ultimately control of the world.

A high-stakes game that of course, has a villain: Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) head of operations of Innovative Online Industries, or IOI, and self-proclaimed colleague of everyone’s hero, Halliday.

To win the game is to win everything, and Sorrento plays to win with all the technology and army (AKA the Sixers) money can buy.  He’ll stop at nothing.  And against the young Wade Watts who’s all heart, it’s a David versus Goliath tale, set to an 80s soundtrack while featuring all the pop culture references associated with that time.

Ready Player One takes a new view of a classic ideal with Halliday, the old and awkward mentor that we love and admire; the want to be able to achieve anything as long as we work for it and want it bad enough; that love is there waiting for us if the time is right to take the leap; that with the help of friends (like the High Five) evil can be overcome…

Pretty cheesy stuff, and there’s a lot of those teen moments.  Yet, the struggles are hard-wired into our brain, so I couldn’t help but grin and cheer for the underdogs.

Add that action-adventure aspect with the riddles and search for keys in a computer game brought to life by three years of VFX work to get all the overwhelming detail right, you’ve got an entertaining film.

The highlight for me was the reference to Steven King’s, The Shining.  Most will find a reference to relate to; the 80s has something for everyone, but I found the scare-factor of The Shining and attention to the animation particularly impressive.  When inverted, into the ‘real world’, to laugh at the baddies getting their scare-on, it was brilliant: Stephen King, the ultimate equaliser.  There’s a reason I’m such a fan and hats-off to Spielberg for re-creating The Shining world so well.

But enough with the references ‘cause I’m grinning while I’m writing so I’ll end with: Ready Player One is a classic action adventure that felt unique by showing the past in a new light provoking a feel-good 4-star cheeky grin.

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Star Trek Beyond

GoMovieReviews Rating:

 

Director: Justin LinStar Trek Beyond

Story By: Gene Roddenberry

Screenplay: Simon Pegs, Doug Jung.

Cast: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba; Sofia Boutella.

There’s always a moral to a Star Trek story, and this time in, Star Trek Beyond, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is having a midlife crisis.

He’s been lost in space for too long and doesn’t know what he wants anymore.  He’s made the memory of his father proud; he’s the captain of the Enterprise.  But where do the steps towards his father end? And where does Kirk begin?

That’s what I like about the Star Trek franchise.  I like the characters and seeing how they deal with their struggles in life.

Interesting that Beyond is the third in the trilogy of the Re-boot series (the 13th Star Trek film) now coming to maturity, just like Capt. Kirk.

As always, there’s the difference in characters’ personality and culture.  I love Scotty the Scotsman and am really getting into the reluctant Dr. ‘Bones’ McCoy (Karl Urban), the southern doctor.  And not just because he’s handsome, Bones makes me laugh.

And there’s always the running theme of unity, which is mostly what the Star Trek films are about.  The difference of the crew members and the strength of working together.

So yes, there’s a formula in the writing here, in the themes written for Star Trek, but that’s why we dig it, yeah?

What was new is the addition of the character, Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who looks to be a permanent fixture in future films.

And the visual effects just keep getting better with each Star Trek adventure.  See Ian Failes article for Inverse here: how-star-trek-changed-visual-effects-history.

Director Justin Lin has brought Peter Chiang on board to take a more scientific approach to the visual effects.  The realistic VFX (visual effects created by processes in which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot) go beyond (ha, ha) all expectation.

There are some amazing perspectives here that on the big screen kicked in my vertigo, so yeah, the visual effects are amazing.

I have to mention the sadness felt when realising I’ll never see Anton Yelchin as Chekov again.  See article about his passing here.  I’ll miss the innocence (although not as innocent with the ladies in, Beyond) and the genius Anton managed to give to the character, Chekov…

A few asides from crusty Bones, tracks to get the blood pumping and the feeling of being on a roller coaster, Star Trek Beyond adds up to a well-packaged, entertaining film.