Ready Player One (2018)

Ready Player One

Wade (Tye Sheridan) is one of many who daily journey into the OASIS

It is no secret that movies and video games have not mixed well in the past, be it video games based on movies (there are too many to count that are bad, but E.T. is probably the most notorious) or movies based on video games (anyone remember Mortal Kombat: Annihilation?), it is hard for these two industries to get along, with a few exceptions (Wreck It Ralph and the Goldeneye Video game come to mind). Finally, it is as if Steven Spielberg has come between the two, shouting “ENOUGH!”, and has given us a great film in Ready Player One.

Based off the book of the same name by Ernest Cline, the world is a very different place in 2045 (though not as different as the year 2049 in the Blade Runner sequel). Everyone has one place to escape, which is the OASIS, a virtual reality where gamers can basically do everything you would want in video games and/or social media. We meet our hero Wade (Tye Sheridan, who I have been a fan of since 2013’s underrated Mud), who lives in the projects of Columbus, Ohio, which is now one of the biggest cities in the world. As Parzival (his Avatar), he is on a quest to find the three keys that will win him the ultimate “Easter Egg”, and complete control of the OASIS. The contest was designed by the late creator Halliday (Mark Rylance), after he severed his partnership with Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg).

There are many unsung rules of the OASIS, such as never giving your real name, even if you fall for the gorgeous avatar Artemis (Olivia Cooke). They both are pursued by a company that calls themselves the sixers, lead by the tyrannical Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). Sorrento also needs some help from a pro gamer named I-ROk, who is voiced to perfection by T.J. Miller (who needs a hit after starring in The Emoji Movie).

I have never read the book, but I would wager the Orb of Osuvox that only Steven Spielberg (arguably one of the best film makers who ever lived) could have done this book justice. The secret of Spielberg’s success in Ready Player One is not just that he shows us countless objects from pop culture, but that he does not just rub it in our face. He trusts us enough to find them on our own. It is also not his main objective to show us special effects (which are obviously superior), but to tell a story (as it is for any director).

Parents, the movie is a strong PG-13. There is no real sexual content (though some innuendo, kissing, partial nudity, and revealing clothing). There is a good amount of swearing (including one F bomb, though it is used rather comically), though nothing the normal middle schooler has not heard these days. There is also one part of the movie that talks a bit about the horror classic The Shining (which I would hope kids have not seen at too young of an age). The scene in Room 237 is shown, though not all of the one character in the bathtub is.

Yes, the movie does over stay its welcome (especially in the second half), but there was rarely a time when I wanted the film to end. I expect a lot of parents will be getting references the kids will not, obviously meaning parents will enjoy this as well.

At one point, Halliday says something about how we need to remember to spend time in reality, to remember that is what real is.

That does not help when a movie like Ready Player One seems so life-like.

 

Overall: Four Stars ****

The 10 Worst Films of 2017

Worst of 2017

The only reason these films are not on the list is that I was spared seeing them…

I am still waiting on a few movies to see before I can list my top ten movies of 2017, but I am more than ready to list the pieces of trash (trash being the most polite word I can think of) of the past year. Movies in the collage above are not going to be mentioned, only because I did not see them.

 

That being said, here comes the reminder of the pains I went through the past year…

 

10.

The Shack

Despite having a nice message, The Shack falls in so many ways that it sadly becomes another forgettable Christian movie. Also, I still don’t see how you can see the title and not think it is a horror film.

 

9.

The Space Between Us

I had hopes for The Space Between us, but was disappointed. Despite nice acting and chemistry between the young leads, the story goes nowhere and we are left wishing Butterfield and Robertson were in another movie.

 

 

8.

The Emoji Movie

 

Every now and then, I feel a little sorry for The Emoji Movie, which was not as hated by me as most of the rest of the human race (even by those who did not see it). Then my mind remembers how bland and boring the film was. And the absolute worst humor imaginable.

 

7.

Split

 

Lousy M. Night, making me almost hopeful that he may be going back to good movie making. At the end, Split is still an utter failure, with premises that I found completely ridiculous.

 

6.

Roland (Idris Elba) in Columbia Pictures' THE DARK TOWER.

 

While watching The Dark Tower, you get a sense that this movie had so much promise, but that every decision made behind camera was the wrong one. I never read the book series (by Stephen King), but I feel that doing so will give me more reason to hate the film.

 

5.

Transformers

Tranformers: The Last Knight. It is a Transformers movie. That alone should be enough explanation.

 

4.

POTCDMTNT

Remember when the Pirates of the Caribbean movies where fresh, new, and exciting? Well, if they make more sequels like Dead Men Tell No Tales, I will forget why I liked the first film at all to begin with.

 

3.Life

 

A solid cast and some neat special effects cannot stop Life from being a rip off of the original Alien, or from having one of the worst end twists I have seen in my life.

 

2.

The Snowman

If you look up all the people associated with The Snowman, you will be as confused as I am. Confused not just at the plot, but at how all these people could make a film the equivalent of eating yellow snow.

 

1.

frozenolaf

 

It may have been a Disney animated “short” (yeah, those quotation marks are as important as ever), but I have seldom felt more anger (even hatred) towards a movie screen than when I had to sit through Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. Sure, Disney pulled the film (which was followed by the far more superior Coco) a few weeks later, but those of us who saw it were left with one of the most excruciating experiences that we are still not sure is over yet. No one asked for this film to be in a theater, and I predict it will have the same future that was given to The Star Wars Christmas Special back in the 1970s.

The Emoji Movie (2017)

 

Emoji

Alex (Jake T. Austin) trying to find the right Emoji.

It is important to remember that, while the tomato meter at rottentomatoes.com is very helpful, it is not always right.

That is not to say that The Emoji Movie is good, only that it is not as terrible as people are making it out to be. Afterall, it takes a lot to make a movie about the inside of a smart phone. The Emoji Movie is clearly reminiscent of movies such as Toy Story (1995), Wreck it Ralph (2012), and Inside Out (2015). The ultimate difference is that those movies had wit and humor that was not forced down our throats. I think I cracked only two smiles during The Emoji Movie (and maybe a hint of a chuckle).

Those movies also had characters we liked and cared about. They were original, had a pep in their step. When I walked out of Inside Out, I went a long time thinking of my voices in my head. As a kid, it was years before I stopped looking at my toys and waiting for them to come alive. The next time I send an emoji, I will not be thinking about what happens to it after I send it.

It is perhaps of the greatest irony that the best way to describe The Emoji Movie is the main emoji himself, which is a “meh” emoji. His name is Gene (T.J. Miller). He is out to impress his parents (played by Steven Wright and Jennifer Coolidge). It is his first day on the job, waiting to see if the owner of the phone, Alex (Jake T. Austin) will use him in text. Gene freaks out, and messes up everything. After being chased out of textopolis by Smiley (Maya Rudolph), he and Hi-Five (a well cast James Corden) set off to find the cloud, with the help of Jailbreak (Anna Faris), who is hiding her own secret. In the mean time, Alex is out to impress his crush Addie (Tati Gabrielle) if only his phone would stop acting up.

Parents, the movie is fine for kids, but I still should warn that you yourselves would probably be undoubtably not entertained. It is still the premise that we have seen in all other movies: if you are to be yourself, you will be happy and succeed.

Perhaps the thing that makes me the most upset about The Emoji Movie is that it truly had so much potential. From what I read, the idea of the movie came up around 2015, meaning the movie could have possibly been rushed to the screen. If only it hadn’t. The writers could have given us clever humor, not mundane. It is not the worst movie of the year, but The Emoji Movie is clearly one of the blandest of the year.

 

Overall: Two Stars **