I love when Spielberg has fun making a movie and, as a result, makes an entertaining one! You know what I’m talking about: the Spielberg of the Indiana Jones trilogy (yes, it’s a trilogy, don’t you know? There are three films, with Sean Connery in the third and last one!). Yes, I’m talking about that Spielberg! Just wonderful. And finally, after the recent grey and useless stuff like War horse (2011) and Bridge of spies (2015), Spielberg gave us Ready player one. I had fun like a baby watching this movie!
Let me start by saying that I have not read the book by Ernest Cline, so I can not comment on any differences between the book and the movie. So let’s put the book aside and talk about the film. Two hours and twenty minutes felt like ten minutes. Ready player one is structured like a game, where the protagonist must find three objects (three keys) to win, and the action is practically continuous. The other continuous thing is the Operation Nostalgia. For the WHOLE movie I found myself amazed at all the references this film is packed with, and very often I smiled or laughed just by seeing Raynor from Starcraft smoking his cigar on the battlefield, or John Carpenter’s Christine’s Plymouth Fury (1983), or the Sulaco from Aliens (1986)!
So, did Spielberg conquer me with a bunch of member berries? ‘Member this? ‘Member that? As usual, South Park was right and now our cinemas and TV channels are full of products that simply exploit the nostalgia effect to be successful. This is certainly true, but is Ready player one just another one of such products? No, it is not. This film works, it’s really funny, the action scenes are nothing short of SPECTACULAR, there’s a sense of adventure that is comparable to that of Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) or The Goonies (1985), the soundtrack by Alan Silvestri is old school and very catchy…
But is there something that doesn’t work? Of course there is, and it’s not just nitpicking!
I expected a noticeable difference between the real world and the Virtual Reality world in terms of cinematography and colors, but my old archenemy Janusz Kaminski once again did not surprise me: it’s the usual Spielbergian photography that we’ve seen for the last 15 years, unfortunately. The characters are at best sketchy: even if you understand that they have tormented backgrounds (at least Wade and Samantha do), you can barely understand their motivations. There is a lot of voice-over explanations, which is the quickest and least imaginative method that a film can use to make the audience understand what’s happening. And probably if I start thinking too much about the plot I would find two hundred things that don’t really work (for example, why don’t the protagonists just take their VR helmets off in order to escape the bad guys in the OASIS rather than running away, using the Zemeckis cube, or whatever?). And the villain who eventually redeems himself because he realizes how bad he is…
But … Batman! Alien! Star Trek! Star Wars! Back to the future! Spaceballs! Chucky! The shining! The Gremlins! Beetlejuice! Akira!
Ok, I admit it, the nostalgia effect won me over… Ciao!