Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

Discuss films of the 21st century including current cinema, current filmmakers, and film festivals.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
mfunk9786
Posts: 11685
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#151 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:46 pm

Image

User avatar
hearthesilence
Posts: 4145
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#152 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:54 pm

Pac-Man getting it on with Rambo? Damn.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Posts: 11685
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#153 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Mar 13, 2018 4:58 pm

The actual Brian Tallerico pull-quote from Rotten Tomatoes is even stupider:
When you're watching Ready Player One, you can almost feel the legendary director sitting next to you, laughing at the references, thrilled with the action, and eating his popcorn. You definitely need popcorn for this one.
Steven Spielberg is real and he's my friend


User avatar
Big Ben
Posts: 1034
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:54 pm
Location: Great Falls, Montana

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#155 Post by Big Ben » Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:13 pm

Perhaps we're all just frustrated the film didn't crash into a garbage dump and start a huge fire?

User avatar
Luke M
Posts: 1472
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:21 pm

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#156 Post by Luke M » Sat Mar 17, 2018 2:20 pm

This could end up like the 92% rotten tomatoes scored Three Billboards situation.

There’s still hope.

Cde.
Posts: 586
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:56 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#157 Post by Cde. » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:49 am

There's a fun (if initially jarringly synthetic) blockbuster in here that deserves better than being tied to the geek reference wanking.

User avatar
Ribs
Posts: 2839
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#158 Post by Ribs » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:31 am

There’s something downright fascinating that Ben Mendelsohn’s character, a businessman who hates the entire conceit of the movie, is by far the character Spielberg most sympathizes with. I think the best version of this movie would get a C Cinemascore, where the “references” build over time to a dull monotony chilling the viewing audience to their core. But, no, though there is a theme that there’s more to life than the past, almost every single appearance of anything recognisable results in a booming laugh from the audience, despite very few of them really being a joke in and of themselves.

Rylance is just tremendous here, heartbreakingly beautiful throughout. He’s barely in it, but it’s so clear that this partnership with Spielberg he’s currently in the midst of must just be so deeply rewarding for both of them, as each performance tops the last (yes, I know what I’m suggesting). The big setpiece that has people talking following the premiere is great, fascinating, and a bit daring - the last fight scene, where it’s just an army of things you recognize fighting faceless robots, is less so (though, being Spielberg, it’s still very well assembled). I’d be really interested how this plays to a mostly empty theater, as I think I’d be way less uncomfortable without such an easily persuadable audience.

I don’t really mean any of the above to be negative: I’m a little disappointed it’s not the totally subversive postmodern blockbuster I was hoping for, but it never was going to be. It’s Spielberg’s best big movie since Jurassic Park (and I like all of his big movies since then - Crystal Skull isn’t much behind this one EDIT I forgot about Tintin which I’d put before this)

dda1996a
Posts: 676
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#159 Post by dda1996a » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:46 am

With the exception of The BFG (which was downright embarrassing during its second half, lazy during its first) I tend to at least tolerate Spielberg when he's on an off day (The Terminal, Crystal Skull) but I just don't know weather to be excited for this. I love the guy, especially when he is on Blockbuster entertainment mode, and the positive reception thus far has been positive. But I still have a hard time understanding how you can put an entire section of the film inside the Overlook without it coming off as gross pandering.
Ribs did you not mind the constant references in the film?

User avatar
Ribs
Posts: 2839
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#160 Post by Ribs » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:56 am

I don't think the references are meant to be "lol I know that thing!" but that's how they're perceived by the audience. Truth is, Spielberg (like Ben Mendelsohn in the movie) probably doesn't have any idea what any of this shit is and is just filling it in with whatever his team is telling him because it doesn't really matter; a lot of the most egregious "here's a thing you know" are right at the start (like, literally the second thing in the movie is a pan across Minecraft World), and the film's definitely at its best for much of the second act into the beginning of the third act where there really isn't anything in the way of "references" aside from the big, inspired set piece discussed on earlier pages within spoiler tags. But also I don't think nostalgia and pandering to it is necessarily cheap or fruitless - there can be a purpose to doing these things, and I think Spielberg does view it with some apprehension and condescension, but he's just incapable of condescending to his audience and doesn't really ever have it come across in force. I don't mind them in and of themselves, I more minded the audience that feels the need to laugh and clap at literally anything they recognize making even a marginal appearance (literally the biggest crowd reaction comes when Tye Sheridan's character says something like "I watched it on Twitch!" - which confused me, as it's about as impressive as when literally anything just rattles off Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter, which happens ALL THE TIME)

Also: the second half of the BFG > first half of the BFG, mostly due entirely to Penelope Wilton

dda1996a
Posts: 676
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#161 Post by dda1996a » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:31 am

Well Spielberg is a known gamer so I think he does know most of references. Also I just hated everything with the royal army and the queen,but I would agree to just erase the BFG completely and that's it. Mr. Fox it aint

User avatar
Ribs
Posts: 2839
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#162 Post by Ribs » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:24 pm


User avatar
mfunk9786
Posts: 11685
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#163 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:07 pm

Mr. Spielberg incarnates this duality as perfectly as any man alive. He is the peer of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, and a Gandalf for the elves and hobbits who made Google, Facebook and the other components of our present-day Oasis.
Is this movie giving people brain worms?

User avatar
Luke M
Posts: 1472
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:21 pm

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#164 Post by Luke M » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:37 pm

Sean Penn but for name dropping instead of alliteration.

User avatar
Luke M
Posts: 1472
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:21 pm

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#165 Post by Luke M » Sun Apr 01, 2018 6:45 pm

This one really didn’t work for me. I actually came close to walking out in the first 20 minutes. It was hard to invest anything into the CG version of the characters. There’s a race scene near the beginning and it has zero emotional weight to it. The designs of the CG characters are so plain they come off like dollar store Avatar. The movie gets better as the real world actors get more screen time. Though Lena Waithe deserves so much better than the cheesy lines she’s given. The references don’t land with any kind of impact. Even The Shining scene only got a few chuckles in my theater.

Others may get more out of it, but to me it was a dud.

User avatar
DarkImbecile
Posts: 1176
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:24 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#166 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:47 am

Like everyone else approaching a cultural work in good faith, I try to engage with every movie open-minded and ready to love it, but I'll gladly admit that it was exceedingly unlikely going in that I would ever like Ready Player One: I've been increasingly skeptical of the last 15 years of Spielberg and especially his broader crowdpleasers, I have no particular affinity for gamer/geek culture and don't share many of the key nostalgic pressure points that this movie heavily leans on, and I almost always feel that entirely digital worlds (and especially those populated with entirely digital characters) are visually uninteresting and dramatically inert. Pretty much the only way this film could have worked for me was if it had been a Trojan horse for the subversion and undercutting of the source material and the geek culture Ernest Cline's book celebrates; instead, Spielberg leans hard into fan service, simplistically archetypal characters, and reassurance of the audience's certainty in the ultimate outcome of the plot and validation of the perspective of the protagonists.

Basically every concern that I had going in was confirmed by the final product, and even some elements I expected to like turned out to be underwhelming, like Ben Mendelsohn's performance as the villain and
SpoilerShow
the way over-hyped Overlook sequence, which I suspect got some positive critical response even from those who disliked the rest of the film because, ironically enough, it provided the same cheap buzz of recognition to film nerds like myself that the appearance of anime and video game icons did for the segment of the audience that cinephiliacs can't relate to and look down upon.
I've heard a handful of arguments that there is some sort of thematic Easter egg containing a meaningful criticism of obsessive pop culture worship buried under the mountain of masturbatory references and self-congratulatory lifestyle reinforcement, but that hidden interpretation seems unreachable without bringing a motivation to find meaning in the material that the film itself just doesn't justify.

And yet - while this is definitely not a good movie or one I'd ever watch again - RPO went down smoothly enough and kept my attention well enough that in a roundabout way it did make me appreciate Spielberg's fundamental ability to tell stories in a way that effectively carries the audience along, even if they're actively resisting the content, style, and ideas he's presenting. It's also another useful reminder that mastery of cinematic language and technique deployed in service of hollow spectacle is only marginally better than a Michael Bay-esque mangling of that technique for equally pointless ends, and perhaps even more frustrating when that talent and the resources behind something like this could be put to much better use.

User avatar
pzadvance
Posts: 341
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2011 7:24 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#167 Post by pzadvance » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:05 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:And yet - while this is definitely not a good movie or one I'd ever watch again - RPO went down smoothly enough and kept my attention well enough that in a roundabout way it did make me appreciate Spielberg's fundamental ability to tell stories in a way that effectively carries the audience along, even if they're actively resisting the content, style, and ideas he's presenting. It's also another useful reminder that mastery of cinematic language and technique deployed in service of hollow spectacle is only marginally better than a Michael Bay-esque mangling of that technique for equally pointless ends, and perhaps even more frustrating when that talent and the resources behind something like this could be put to much better use.
Well said, I felt exactly the same way. It was sort of astounding to find that even though I was opposed to everything the film was doing on an aesthetic and intellectual level, it remained relatively engaging throughout. So, good job, Spielberg... I guess?

User avatar
Ribs
Posts: 2839
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#168 Post by Ribs » Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:20 pm

I went and saw this again. I did it partly because of the novelty of it playing where 2001 premiered 50 years ago yesterday, but also because I really have been utterly captivated over the past week-or-so musing on Rylance's performance in particular, and wanting to be able to see it again knowing where it goes with that. There's a basic duality to Mendelsohn and Rylance's characters - I don't think it's as simple as a lot of people thinking that it's just Spielberg viewing himself as the god of all culture through Rylance, but rather that he identifies as both of them to differing degrees - yes, the visionary who defined an era for a lot of people, but also the shrewd businessman who's interested in how to best exploit those spoils. Rylance becomes the culture, but Mendelsohn is somebody who's utterly befuddled and feels left behind by it - which I think he must, too, identify with to some degree. I dunno. As expected it plays far better in an emptier room then an opening night crowd; I don't think any of the "references" inspired any real laughter other than maybe some of the Shining stuff which has at least a little more behind it then just playing on recognition alone. I like the movie considerably more than I did last week, though.

This is totally secondary to the movie but it actually was really interesting to me the difference between seeing this projected on "Dolby Cinema" (which I did the first time) and in regular 3D (which I did yesterday); a lot of finer details, in particular text appearing on screens in the film, was basically indecipherable when I was able to read them clean as day with the Dolby projection. I'm a big defender of 3D in general and think it's well-used in this film but seeing these very pronounced differences really struck home some of its weaknesses.

(The last time I watched a movie twice in one week was - and this was something I didn't remember until I was leaving - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008, which gives this decision an odd circularity)

dda1996a
Posts: 676
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#169 Post by dda1996a » Tue Apr 03, 2018 2:53 pm

My biggest problem was, and is the same with most big budget blockbusters these days, the complete lack of blocking and staging in VFX heavy movies. One thing that no one can take away from Spielberg, and even his worst films still astound in this, are his camera set ups. There are few directors who are as skilled as he is in using the slightest changes in camera and actors position to give meaning to his shots. Which is why I really preferred the real world scenes. Just the first scene of Sheridan jumping down the stacks (about the second scene think) in which Spielberg tracks him down the multiple levels while also showing all the people who are hooked on VRs is brilliant. Sadly most scenes in the game felt empty and hollow to me. I mean they are still fine, but they lack substance. You can pack so much easter eggs and references into those scenes but they still felt empty.
I still enjoyed it overall, as it's still rather fun and anyone who ever played video games and enjoyed them can at least relate. One thing j found missing was one truly great scene. There's usually one big set piece in any Spielberg film (even films like Tintin and War Horse) but this didn't really have one, and I'm not counting either the race or the final level.
As for the Rylance/Mendelson dichotomy, I'm not really sure. I felt Spielberg is obviously Rylance in a way, but I didn't see any hint of himself in Mendelson. He seemed way too villainy and one note, while also rather misunderstanding of the world he is trying to use to his advantage to be a side to Spielberg.
I wish Spielberg was less of a humanist in a way, as I personally find VR and all that technology distancing and alienating, while Spielberg tries to both criticize it and show its more positive side. Which is admirable in a way, but feels like he is trying to have it both ways.
Basically this is the most fun blockbuster I've seen since maybe Edge of Tomorrow (not counting Blade Runner, which isn't really one) but I'm still waiting for the truly captivating Spielberg blockbuster.

User avatar
Ribs
Posts: 2839
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#170 Post by Ribs » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:12 pm

I am genuinely very curious to what degree Janusz Kaminski was involved with the computer stuff. He was also credited on Tintin, which I find so surprising: I guess it all depends exactly *how* the mocap is done (as it's conceivably possible to have complex scenes where none of the actors are even in the same room as one another, but more likely they play them out and animate on top of them and move the "cameras" around digitally).

I think I'm a little more cynical about the degree to which Spielberg actually cares about VR or video games at all. I just don't think he cares - he didn't want his own stuff there not because he doesn't want to float his own boat but because he's personally find it degrading to his own work to re-appropriate it like this. Which is a little rich, I guess - but there's also an element where he, as a billionaire executive with the strongest green-light power out of anyone on planet Earth, feels it really essential for people to think he's hip to the times. It's a mean to an ends to him, and not really where his interests lie, as far as I'm concerned, anyway. There definitely is this sense in the scenes with Pegg and Rylance that this in some way conjures memories, presumably, of the early days of Dreamworks, and Spielberg's own regrets about his own decisions to continually go bigger and bigger. I think Mendelsohn represents this sort of raw version of that tendency taken all the way to its endpoint, where it's just dollars and figures that matter - but, I dunno, I'm the only one I've seen anywhere suggesting this, it might just be a total misread and I'm inferring too much.

As I said after seeing it last week, Spielberg just refuses to condescend to the audience and genuinely loves them too much, which is a shame as there's a better version of this movie where it does really prod at the audience instead of just the light brush strokes of criticism throughout. I just don't think he'd ever want to make that.

User avatar
Luke M
Posts: 1472
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 9:21 pm

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#171 Post by Luke M » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:34 pm

Ribs wrote:I am genuinely very curious to what degree Janusz Kaminski was involved with the computer stuff. He was also credited on Tintin, which I find so surprising: I guess it all depends exactly *how* the mocap is done (as it's conceivably possible to have complex scenes where none of the actors are even in the same room as one another, but more likely they play them out and animate on top of them and move the "cameras" around digitally).

I think I'm a little more cynical about the degree to which Spielberg actually cares about VR or video games at all. I just don't think he cares - he didn't want his own stuff there not because he doesn't want to float his own boat but because he's personally find it degrading to his own work to re-appropriate it like this. Which is a little rich, I guess - but there's also an element where he, as a billionaire executive with the strongest green-light power out of anyone on planet Earth, feels it really essential for people to think he's hip to the times. It's a mean to an ends to him, and not really where his interests lie, as far as I'm concerned, anyway. There definitely is this sense in the scenes with Pegg and Rylance that this in some way conjures memories, presumably, of the early days of Dreamworks, and Spielberg's own regrets about his own decisions to continually go bigger and bigger. I think Mendelsohn represents this sort of raw version of that tendency taken all the way to its endpoint, where it's just dollars and figures that matter - but, I dunno, I'm the only one I've seen anywhere suggesting this, it might just be a total misread and I'm inferring too much.

As I said after seeing it last week, Spielberg just refuses to condescend to the audience and genuinely loves them too much, which is a shame as there's a better version of this movie where it does really prod at the audience instead of just the light brush strokes of criticism throughout. I just don't think he'd ever want to make that.
Is there evidence of this or just conjecture?

User avatar
mfunk9786
Posts: 11685
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#172 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:35 pm

Nothing makes you come off as hip to the times like directing Ready Player One

dda1996a
Posts: 676
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#173 Post by dda1996a » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:38 pm

Spielberg is a known lover of video games, he even tried his hand at that Halo film with Jackson. He does care, and I think the reason he didn't include his stuff is that it would seem too much. It's enough to have a Kubrick movie as a big center piece of your film, but having Spielberg reference Spielberg is too much.
I think that it is usually one his biggest faults. He is just too much of a good guy to criticize something. It can get by when he makes criticism free films, but recently his political era just screams criticism but he chooses to avoid that

User avatar
Shrew
Posts: 667
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:22 am

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#174 Post by Shrew » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:59 pm

dda1996a wrote:Spielberg is a known lover of video games, he even tried his hand at that Halo film with Jackson. He does care, and I think the reason he didn't include his stuff is that it would seem too much. It's enough to have a Kubrick movie as a big center piece of your film, but having Spielberg reference Spielberg is too much.
I think that it is usually one his biggest faults. He is just too much of a good guy to criticize something. It can get by when he makes criticism free films, but recently his political era just screams criticism but he chooses to avoid that
I remember feeling that with his treatment of the Japanese military in Empire of the Sun. There's a scene in which young Christian Bale salutes a Japanese pilot after a landing, which could be a complex moment of a kid unconsciously being attracted to/admiring authority and power, mixing with terror and naivete about how he got put in this prison camp in the first place. But Spielberg directs it with total awe and reverence.

User avatar
Roger Ryan
Posts: 1879
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:04 pm
Location: A Midland town spread and darkened into a city

Re: Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)

#175 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:28 pm

Certainly Spielberg was the right guy to handle the nostalgia factor in this film. Unlike a younger filmmaker whose appreciation of the 80s would be like the young characters in Ready Player One, Spielberg lived through the period and created some of its signposts. My greatest concern going into the film was how the inevitable pop culture references would be piled on and I was relieved that Spielberg chose (most of the time) to simply allow many references to exist in the background without drawing unneeded attention to them. Spielberg was actually friendly with Kubrick and visited the set of The Shining (the Overlook hotel set occupied the same studio space Spielberg would build the "well of souls" set in for Raiders of the Lost Ark), so I can't think of a more appropriate director to play around with Kubrick's designs. His choice to replicate some of Kubrick's camera moves was admirable (although probably dictated by how Kubrick's footage was used).

Since my expectations were so low, I found Ready Player One to be entertaining enough. Its running time certainly doesn't feel like 139 minutes and, well, I think it's a better "avatar" movie than Cameron's.

Post Reply