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Westside Steve

Ready Player One review

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Ready Player One
Warner Brothers
PG 13.                   140 min
Yes it’s one of those sub genres of Science Fiction, you know where the kid winds up inside the video game, or another galaxy, and winds up the hero? A little bit THE LAST STARFIGHTER a little bit TRON but usually a good time. I have noticed that READY PLAYER ONE is a best-selling novel but I admit I’ve never read it so you book fans might not be on the same, well, page as me. 
So there are a few angles about the film, not the least of which is Steven Spielberg at the helm. The guy’s a legend with very few equals in the business. He’s also known for stirring a little social commentary into his films and this is no exception. Here it is. I think we’ve all noticed in recent times that more and more people spend more and more time gazing into a an electronic screen, a link to anywhere and everywhere in the world as one-on-one human interaction seems to be passé. The hook here is that in the dystopian future the world has, as in many futuristic tales, become a decaying Wasteland. Years ago a couple of video game wizards, well one wizard and one shady entrepreneur, created a virtual reality in which people can wear a headset and electric suit, stand on a multi-directional treadmill and live in a wondrous and exciting world called The Oasis. Because everyone’s select their own avatar no one is quite sure who exactly they are interacting with. The experience, it seems, is just about ubiquitous. So here comes the conflict. As in real video games the Creator has inserted something gamers call an Easter egg. Kind of an unadvertised perk that contestants might just stumble across during gameplay. (Many years ago the Smurfs game on ColecoVision, I think, had a feature if you entered one screen and took one step back the Smurfette’s dress disappeared) An announcement is made that whoever finds the three keys hidden around the generated universe will be granted ownership of the entire Oasis. This sets the stage for a very serious and very dangerous competition. Actually your avatar can’t really die but you can lose all your credits and go into debt purchasing power ups Etc. There are good guys, Rebels, and there are bad guys who are not unexpectedly corporate suit-wearing pricks who would use it to do, uh, evil suit-wearing corporate stuff. Thing is they aren’t afraid to kill real people to attain their goals. On the other hand we’ve got a couple of kids. Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooks as Percival / Wade and Art3mis/ Samantha. These two seem to have a little bit of spark going on even though they’re not quite sure who each other are in the real world. They also hang around with a politically correct assortment of goofy kid buddies as they lead the resistance against Ben Mendelsohn as Sorento, the head bad guy, and his evil minions. Unfortunately this is where the film breaks down to what science fiction films usually breakdown into, in other words lots of noise lots of action and lots of special effects. That usually annoys me but not quite so much in this instance. The effects are better than almost anything out there today and the battle scenes are at least somewhat interesting. You can always count on Spielberg for that. One of the reasons for that is it there are dozens, if not hundreds of retro references to old video games, old movies and old songs.  Visually, not only is the Oasis spectacular but the crumbling futuristic Columbus Ohio has a truly original and striking look.
Actually thinking about the message oh, and which is that too many people are spending all their time gazing into an electronic device, it’s a little bit ironic that it’s the young kids who are rebelling against this. In today’s world it seems It’s the millennials trapped in their little internet world. 
It isn’t a watershed film but there are enough cool things to raise it above the ordinary.

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I did love all the old references to some things.  That Percival rode around in a DeLorean, that they had to battle King Kong etc. all the things you mention.  I did not relate to a lot of the old video game references because I was never a big video game player....unless you count like Pac Man

I would have given it a bit higher rating.  B+  or A-.  

As you say, despite it being practically an all CGI movie....it did not deteriorate into a big CGI mess as many other CG movies have.  It maintained focus on the story, not on just the effects.

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