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Blu-ray Review: Ready Player One

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Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park) directs the adaptation of Ernest Cline’s book Ready Player One. The film stars Tye Sheridan (Mud), Olivia Cooke (Ouija), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One) and Lena Waithe (Master of None), as well as TJ Miller (Deadpool), Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) and Mark Rylance (The BFG).

It is the year 2045, and in the wake of the corn syrup droughts and the bandwidth riots: reality sucks. The one escape is the OASIS – a dizzying virtual reality online world where you can be whoever you want to be and do anything you can imagine – the only drawback being that if you die in the game, you “zero out”, and lose all your money and gear.

Wade Wilson (Sheridan) lives in “the stacks”: a vertical trailer park. His parents are dead and his adoptive parents are horrid, but Wade sees a way of escaping thanks to the deceased creator of the OASIS, Halliday (Rylance). Hidden within the game are puzzles and challenges that when completed grant three keys. Once a player wins all three keys Halliday’s will stipulates that you win not only ownership of the OASIS – but also half a trillion dollars.

With an evil corporation led by Mendelsohn’s Sorrento – and aided by TJ Miller’s griefer troll “I-Rok” – closing in on an OASIS takeover, Wade and his friends Parzival (Cooke) and Aech (Waithe) must team up to complete the 80s-obsessed Halliday’s quest and save the OASIS.

In Cline’s book these puzzles are devious and only the nerdiest of the nerdiest could possibly find them before then having to finish near-impossible trials in movies, video games and music. Here though, the puzzles are an absolute cinch – the only mystery being how absolutely no-one did not find or solve them yet. One is worked out simply by watching the end of a video where exactly what you have to do is slowly spelled out direct to camera.

The great music-based challenge is ditched in favour of another in a series of eye-blending set pieces that all look the same: a grey-blue graded million and one characters tumbling over each other filmed by a “virtual” camera that zips and floats about aimlessly. This infuriating style means that even though a lot of time and money has been spent procuring the licenses to use a great many characters from pop culture to populate ‘Ready Player One’ – you barely ever get to see them properly.

When you do get to see any for more than a second it is initially a thrill. For horror fans, seeing Freddy, Jason and Chucky cameos is a real kick – and there is an absolutely stunning ‘The Shining’ sequence (that would probably really piss off Stanley Kubrick) – but it soon becomes clear that this is all Ready Player One is – a Funko Pop ‘Where’s Wally?’ that you cannot even enjoy fully until you can pause it in six months time.

The 80s fascination means the film is absolutely indebted to Spielberg’s output, but it does not feel like it is him directing it. There is no heart or magic, it is anonymously shot and blandly cut, and it is full of long and large info dumps in dialogue that is stiff and cringe-inducing. Important plot points for later are signposted clumsily and in neon, and there is a deus ex machina that was a surprise when Scott Pilgrim vs. the World did it eight years ago.

Ready Player One is released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD on Monday August 6.

For a different take on the film, check out Ian’s review here.

The Ready Player One 4K Ultra HD 3D Blu-ray and Blu-ray Combo Pack will have 6 feaurettes including:

  • Game Changer: Cracking the Code
  • Effects for a Brave New World
  • Level Up: Sound for the Future
  • High Score: Endgame
  • Ernie & Tye’s Excellent Adventure
  • The ’80’s: You’re The Inspiration

The Standard Definition DVD will have the The ’80’s: You’re The Inspiration featurette.

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One Comment

  1. Deeply disappointed with this film, the book was brilliant, i’m not sure how they went so wrong!

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