Ready Player One
You know what you signed up for when you watch a Spielberg movie. You're asking to have your emotions thoroughly and professionally wrung out. Problem with this movie is; there's not much water in the towel.
It's very stimulating visually. Gorgeous levels of detail. Too much detail; you have no time to do more than recognize something before the constantly moving camera shots and edits take it out of view and replace it with the next shiny thing. But much of that eye candy doesn't really serve the story, and if you strip it away, the thin, highly conventional yet shaky plot and weak characterization lead to an experience that is less satisfying than much of Spielberg's oeuvre. I didn't feel engaged by these characters very much, not enough to care about their fates. In a Spielberg movie, that's a crit; a hard fail, no respawn.
I did laugh... once. At a scene that wasn't meant to be comedic but dramatic (The Gundam scene). It was the only segment that really got to me and that was for about seven seconds. But most of the time I felt... meh. I was entertained, but it didn't stick with me once I left my seat. What I mostly retained were questions about certain plot holes, which I won't get into here.
It's a good choice to Netflix so you can step-frame and slow-mo thru the visuals and tick off the 70's/80's iconography and call-backs laced thru the film... ( "had that, wanted that, couldn't afford that, still have one of those... used to play that, used to watch that, I know that trivia, I recognize that pop song...") which brings up a point: what age range is this movie for? It's ostensibly a kid's movie on the surface, but all the nostalgic references are geared to people who are now in their late forties to late fifties - the kids the movie is ostensibly geared to, and the kids who are characters in the movie, have no idea what most of the pop culture references in this film mean, unless they have been studying the pop past astutely with the intensity of someone on the autism spectrum.
So you know where I'm coming from; I don't enjoy playing computer games too much, I prefer watching the cut scenes between rounds that lay out plot, background, and character. The actual game action is almost never as interesting to me. I'd rather see all the HALO cut scenes in a montage than a minute of game play. But this movie is like the reverse of that. They threw away the cut scenes and made it all the FPS spazzvision.
It will make a fun video to use on the large screen TV monitor sales display floor. It will "look" fantastic in IMAX 3d. It will entertain your nostalgia centers if you're in your 40's or 50's. But don't expect it to blow your mind. Or wring out your emotions.
I'd say you nailed it. If you take away playing pop-culture "Where's Waldo" there's really not much here. I wasn't terribly engaged watching it and the more I thought back on it, the less I liked it. I feel like the world doesn't make sense and the plot is horrendously thin. The fact that it's a Spielberg film makes it all the more disappointing.
It is easier to destroy than to create.
More fun, too.
Mark - an accurate review as usual. I have little desire to see this movie. If it comes to Netflix or late night TBS I may watch it, but based upon the trailers it looks like Spielberg's worst idea. I have seen most of his movies with the exception of War Horse and The Post. Even the BFG, while kid-oriented, was watchable as an adult and was well made.
I am not familiar with the Ready Player One book, but the story seems to be "in the future people only interact via a large worldwide video game" - is that accurate?
The 80s references look like fun, but like the eye candy of The Phantom Menace, it seems like maybe there is no story behind it all. #sad
It is a bit puzzling why Spielberg chose this movie - it seems like the kind of film that Zemeckis or Joe Johnston or John Lasseter or the Lego Movie guys or even Bryan Singer would make. While Spielberg has had some very good films with a technology motif (AI, Minority Report, Jurassic Park) - in those films the tech supported the story.
I may report back once I see the movie, but I hope Spielberg's next project is closer to what he does best. According the IMDB he is next making West Side Story, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, and Untitled Indiana Jones Project.
As kids would say nowadays, meh.
M. A. Cohen
War Horse was very engaging because it had a story and characters you cared about. The Post is engaging because it has real-life, real-world stakes. Not in RP-1.
Even though at some point the bad guys try to kill the protagonist in the real world, (and botch it, killing many innocents instead) this goes by in a wink, is barely ever referenced again until the ending, and seems to have had zero repercussions in the world of the film.
If you read Ready Player One, you may hate the movie more, because apparently, according to people that have read it, the movie had to make a lot of big changes to compact the main ideas and arcs into a workable running time.
Don't hate the game: hate the Ready Playa one?
Check out the "half in the bag" review from Red Letter Media on youtube. Mister Plinkett and crew nail it pretty hard. I found myself in agreement with pretty much everything they had to say about the book and movie.
I saw Ready Player One last week, didn't have much impact on me or stick in my memory for very long.
Red Letter Media pointed out its central problem pretty good like you said, Mark. It's a young adult movie (like Hunger Games, Divergent, The Host, Maze Runner, etc) but all the references are geared towards people in their mid 30s - 50s. So, no young people care about stuff like "The Zemeckis Cube", and no old people care about the played-out teenage romance crap in the predicable YA storytelling script.
So what are you left with? Something that displeases everybody?
I think the main satisfied customer of Ready Player One is the 45 year old dad who takes his kids to the movie theater and says "Did you see all the COOL STUFF in that movie, kids? Well, that's the very stuff that I, YOUR FATHER, was into when I was a kid! Now my nostalgia been validated by a $175 million Steven Spielberg movie! Eat my shorts!"
I'm afraid that the $175 million movie may become a write down for the studio. He should have put Tom Hanks in it.
You raise a good point - 18 year olds may have seen Back to the Future or Jurassic Park but those movies were not part of their childhoods. I think of my cousins who are currently in their early 30s. They would get references to The Neverending Story, Flight of the Navigator and Home Alone, but Back to the Future and Jurassic Park were not on their radar as kids.
Spielberg has occasionally made some off choices. Remember The Flintstones? I didn't think so. I know you can't make Schindler's List and Private Ryan every time, but this one seems to be driven by a studio wanting a teen-oriented movie to compete against Avengers and Solo. Steven should have replied "I have a bad feeling about this."
One somewhat decent Young Adult scifi book that could be made into a workable movie, I think, is Max Barry's "Jennifer Government". With a strong female lead, It could stretch the cyberspace and futuristic world-building while still having a meaningful protagonist and plot, and message.
[Mike Cohen] "I think of my cousins who are currently in their early 30s. They would get references to The Neverending Story, Flight of the Navigator and Home Alone, but Back to the Future and Jurassic Park were not on their radar as kids."
Heyyyy, I'm in my early 30s, and I was 9-years-old when Jurassic Park came out. IT WAS WORLD CHANGING! And I had the Jurassic Park bed spread, action figures, t-shirts, thermos, collectable spoon, beach towel, novelty hat, Sega Genesis game, and collector's edition cereal to prove it!
[Scott Roberts] "I'm in my early 30s, and I was 9-years-old when Jurassic Park came out. IT WAS WORLD CHANGING! And I had the Jurassic Park bed spread, action figures, t-shirts, thermos, collectable spoon, beach towel, novelty hat, Sega Genesis game, and collector's edition cereal "
We're gonna make a fortune from this place!