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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Ready Player One: Revisited

Just a quick one, this time. OK, maybe not...

I had the pleasure to see Ready Player One again with visiting friends from Cape Town in IMAX 3D this past weekend and the difference between my first and second reactions to the film is really quite profound. Certainly profound enough that this may just be the first re-review in all my years doing this blog.

A few of my issues do remain with the film but it's a much better and much more enjoyable experience than I first gave it credit for. It's true, for example, that the (admittedly super impressive) video-game-inspired CGI is something of an alienating factor and it does at time feel like watching someone else play a video game but I do think that Spielberg actually does give even these sequences some weight by having them transposed against the dangers of what's going on in the real world of the film. This is especially well done later on in the film but it's true in all but the introductory sequences - which are still, it has to be said, just a bit too exposition-heavy.

I also think that, though the rest of the "Top Five" are barely sketched caricatures (the soulful Asian, the precocious kid and the wise-cracking (apparently) lesbian, black girl) Wade and Samantha do have more clearly defined character motivations and character arcs. Nothing deep or unique, you understand, but enough that they come across as actual kids, rather than plot devices. And, really, the characters in this movie are so much fun, that it's hard to really begrudge their being somewhat underwritten.

The main difference this time around, though, was the visuals. While the screening I saw at the 3D Il Grande theatre at Monte Casino looked absolutely terrible with the seeming million and one characters on screen at any given time looked like just a mush of CG ugliness, rather than distinct characters, and the whole thing was darkened by the usual 3D darkening effect on regular 3D, the film just looked terrific on IMAX 3D.

I would still have preferred to see it in 2D as I still find 3D generally distracting, not least of all because of those stupid glasses, but it's clear that not only does the film generally look better in IMAX 3D than at regular 3D cinemas, there was clearly something wrong with the 3D at that initial screening. The difference in visuals shouldn't be this profound. What was once a mush, now actually looked like thousands upon thousands of fully rendered and identifiable in that blink or you miss it kind of way. The screen is still a bit cluttered at times but this is offset by the abundance of really fun easter eggs for geeks and nerds of all ages to pick up on and, as one, I had an absolute blast with this aspect of the film. But, really, I know everyone loves Batman but they couldn't have featured some other DC heroes more prominently? Not even Superman? Ah, it's nice to be able to see enough to nitpick like this...

One final thing before I give the film it's much deserved higher grade: in my original review, I noted that the score was by John Williams but, as it turns out, unlike 99% of Speilberg films, Ready Player one was in fact not scored by the great John Williams! The still-pretty-great Alan Silvestri stepped in here with a score that isn't a million miles away from Williams' work but also brings to mind his own brilliant scores for the likes of Forest Gump and, oh yes, Back to the Future - including a direct reference to the latter in one of the film's most memorable moments!

So, yeah, I was wrong...


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