Sunday, April 8, 2018

Ready Player One

If you’ve read some of my reviews before, you’ll know that I seldom write reviews about movies that I didn’t particularly enjoy (which means most of my ratings are quite high). Today however I’m treating you, dear reader, to a negative review. Why? Because I am quite inspired to tell you much I didn’t enjoy Ready Player One.

It’s probably also fair to mention I’m not the biggest fan of Steven Spielberg movies – don’t get me wrong, he’s an amazing director, it’s just that I don’t feel like Spielberg is the type of director that makes movies for someone with a as blighted soul as my own. There’s a sickly sentimental quality to numerous Spielberg films that makes it difficult for me to connect with the worlds he creates and the characters that inhabit them.

But nevertheless, as a self-proclaimed retro pop culture and gaming geek, I was very curious to experience Spielberg’s attempt at the off-beat and rather strange world of Ready Player One, first introduced by Ernest Cline as a science fiction novel back in 2011.

Ready Player One starts with a bang, plunging the audience in the thick of a barraging plethora of convoluted retro pop culture and gaming references. Impressively (in a bad way, that is), Spielberg maintains this initial momentum for puking out pop culture references on-screen throughout the film’s tiring 2 hour runtime. Even worse, some scenes feel like nothing more than an excuse to add in and combine another series of seemingly randomised references in a mildly entertaining way. Although this approach has a certain charm for a while, it quickly degrades the film into a rather soulless promotional shell.
Also, this movie hasn't made me very excited for the future of VR.
Another aspect that doesn’t help improve the film’s lack of any real emotional resonance is the rather horrible dialogue. Except for a few quirky moments from T.J. Miller, most of the dialogue is painfully cheesy and superficial – the only real achievement of the dialogue is that it manages to successfully reinvigorate some excruciatingly awkward racial and gender stereotypes (Asian people should probably not watch this film).

"... the only real achievement of the dialogue is that it manages to successfully reinvigorate some excruciatingly awkward racial and gender stereotypes."

Did I also mention that the screenplay is rather silly and inconsequential? And yes, although one can forgive a sci-fi fantasy film for not having the most logical and rational plot, there are quite a few gaping pot holes and inconsistencies here that make it difficult to care much for (or follow) the events that are transpiring on-screen. Not all of the film’s scenes are completely useless though – one particular scene (inspired by a famous horror film) has a highly intriguing denouement, serving as a glimmer of what this film could have been if it was given more love and attention.

There is however one level on which Ready Player One really does work. The impeccable CGI effects and the seamless integration of various digital art styles is something amazing to behold. It’s just a pity that the effort didn’t transcend further than the film’s green screens.

What all of the above mentioned culminates in is a film that is a living and breathing contradiction. Instead of being a testament to where film technology has taken the sci-fi fantasy genre, Spielberg takes the genre back a considerable amount of years, to a time where sci-fi films were almost unbearably cheesy, awkwardly ridiculous and rather lifeless. Unless you are a ridiculously massive geek that gets turned on any and all sorts of cheap in-movie references, I don’t recommend seeing this film. And oh yes, if you were wondering – this movie has not managed to change my opinion of Spielberg films.

Highlight: A cleverly creative scene inspired by a well-known horror movie is this film’s one and only highlight.