WEEKEND WEB: Get Ready for a Spielberg master class
FILM REVIEW: READY PLAYER ONE (12A)
SHOWCASE CINEMA DE LUX PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW
CAST: TYE SHERIDAN, OLIVIA COOKE, BEN MENDELSOHN, MARK RYLANCE, HANNAH JOHN-KAMEN, LENA WAITE, PHILIP ZHAO, WIN MORISAKI, RALPH INESON, SUSAN LYNCH & SIMON PEGG
RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 20 MINS
DIRECTOR: STEVEN SPIELBERG
When it says in the trailer this movie is from ‘visionary game-changer’ Steven Spielberg – it sounded a bit egotistical.
Because one of the world’s most influential directors has done it again with this sci-fi adventure master class – based on Ernest Cline’s novel – that is an inventive and joyous overload of the senses.
In fact, if he’d managed to chop about fifteen minutes off the runtime – which led to it feeling a bit bloated – this could have been a five-star classic.
As it stands, it’s still a master stroke from the Oscar-winning director of Saving Private Ryan, that deserves immense praise by moving the boundaries and offering that something a little different – even though it arguably offers more to adults than younger kids with all its pop culture references.
Set in 1945, in Columbus, Ohio, 18-year-old Wade Watts (X-Men: Apocalypse’s Tye Sheridan) is an orphan living in a skyscraper-like trailer park with his aunt, as the world has turned into a slum-like state.
To escape their desolation people engage in a virtual reality world called the Oasis, where they can follow numerous activities, covering work, education and entertainment.
Which basically means most people spend their time with an advanced version of the PlayStation VR headset on.
But when the creator of this playground (played by Oscar-winner Mark Rylance) dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all users to find three ‘Easter Egg’ hidden messages – which will give the finder their fortune.
After several fruitless years without anyone breaking the code, Watts (who goes by the avatar name Parzival in the Oasis) teams up with several friends – including Art3mis (played by the Bates Motel’s starlet Olivia Cooke) – after he cracks the first quest, which grabs the attention of power-hungry video-game conglomerate CEO Nolan Sorrento (Rogue One’s Ben Mendelsohn), who will stop at nothing to win the game.
And while the story is noteworthy in itself, it’s the addition of iconic references, from Minecraft to Halo, Child’s Play to The Shining, Saturday Night Fever to Duran Duran, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to The Breakfast Club, Batman to King Kong, Iron Giant to Terminator 2 – and, of course, Spielberg’s own back catalogue from War of the Worlds to Jurassic Park, that makes Ready Player One a giddy pleasure to watch.
And with an underlying Back to the Future tone – some of the sound effects seem gleefully uplifted from Robert Zemeckis’ movie – that has to be watched in 3D to be viscerally appreciated, this is top notch from start to finish.
As aforementioned, it does have a few stop/start ‘false’ endings that could lead to ‘squeaky bum time’ for younger children, but in an age when you’re paying top dollar for your cinema ticket, why not get great value for your coin?
And for those of you who are in your thirties/forties, be prepared to get a lot of enjoyment by pressing the start button – because particularly for that age demographic this is one of the most ingenious films of the year so far.
Rating: 4.5/5, by Gavin Miller