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Ready Player One, 2018

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READY PLAYER ONE

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline
Stars: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn

Editor’s Note: This was originally written in 2018 on Garrett’s Letterboxd account.

I’m really conflicted about this one. On one hand Ready Player One is a really fun, wild ride from perhaps our greatest living filmmaker; almost doing a career retrospective as a movie, showing off every trick he’s ever learned. On the other, it’s a mostly shallow story that doesn’t seem to really care about or maybe even like its characters and their relationships.

The first 45 minutes my jaw was on the floor, and I was genuinely getting some Back To The Future vibes; like maybe Ready Player One would be this generation’s version of that, forever playing on a loop throughout their childhoods. But once it actually got into the story, it was all exposition and plot mechanics with hardly any meaningful drama among the characters, which sucked it dry of all its stakes.

TRULY GORGEOUS

It is truly gorgeous with some of the best set pieces I’ve seen in years. In Marvel movies, when people face off one-on-one, the cinematography is often ugly and incomprehensible. It’s two people fighting, something we’ve been doing for decades, and they can never seem to make it digestible. Ready Player One should be the ugliest, most insane thing to follow, inducing vomiting. Instead, it’s all perfectly clear, easy to follow, and endlessly exciting in its execution of enormous action sequences.

And the way Spielberg is constantly mixing digital characters into real environments and vice versa—Ready Player One has this overall effect of all of it looking fantastic; nothing ever feels out of place or like it doesn’t have weight or belong in the setting it’s in. As far as digital FX go, these are some of the best I’ve ever seen.

So I don’t know—I had a pretty good time at the theater with this, but was mostly disengaged if something completely bonkers wasn’t happening. Thankfully, something insane happens every 10-12 minutes throughout the runtime, so it ends up being a pretty good experience overall.

I guess it’s more that I lament the movie Ready Player One could have been had they put some time and effort into giving us characters that mattered. But the movie it is is a blast, so why am I whining?

SCORE: ★★★☆☆

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Garrett Smith

Comedian of no repute. Co-host of the I Like To Movie Movie podcast and Movie Movie Live! the monthly game show based on the podcast.
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