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View from the Vault: Ready Player One Review

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View from the Vault: Ready Player One Review

Ready Player One is not like it’s novel counterpart and that’s OK. It is, however, like every geek and gamer’s wet dream, and that’s great. This is GeekVault’s movie review of Ready Player One. Ready? Let’s begin. For starter’s it is a visual feast, that leaves you stuffed but asking for seconds. Secondly it’s the Where’s Wally of pop culture in fantastic film format. There is something in there for everyone and Spielberg is back with a ton of nostalgia and good feelings.

So The story goes… The year is 2045 and real life isn’t looking so good. People live in “stacks” now, trailers stacked one on top the other, the height of skyscrapers. The only place to turn is the OASIS, a virtual reality, where anything is possible. People live out there entire lives there, work, learn and most of all play. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is one of those people. Living in his aunts trailer with her string of abusive boyfriends. His only escape is through the OASIS. It’s creator, James Halliday (Mark Rylance) hid an Easter egg, after his death, within his vast reality, the finder of which would get the key to his fortune as the heir of the OASIS itself.

Thus sparks the greatest hunt ever in which Gunters (egg hunters) face off against the IOI, the second largest company with intentions on being the first. After several years of no progress the interest has died down to only the most hardcore fans until Parzival, Wade’s avatar, finds the first key. Now he must battle off against the evil IOI, headed by Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), and with the help of his friends Aech (Lena Waithe) and Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), find all three keys and win the egg.

Level 1: No Spoilers.

So firstly, we here at GeekVault, as geeks and cinephiles alike, absolutely loved Ready Player One. Every five seconds we couldn’t help but point out to one another a reference way off in the background, it was just utterly ridiculous fun. You just have to sit back, relax and go with it.

There is nothing new about this film, it’s your typical hero’s journey, mixed with popular teen dystopia rebellion against evil corporations. Which is still as poignant as it’s ever been. It’s impossible to be original these days, and this film doesn’t try and hide the fact that it is one massive movie and game reference. It is, in my opinion, the most successful retelling of where the future of technology, such as drones and virtual reality, could lead us, without keeping mega corporations in check and allowing everyone un-tampered access to the internet.

So this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, you can argue that it relies too heavily on other franchises to make this film work. Strip it all away and you have a typical heartfelt, everyday little guy stands up to the big bad company. You just have to accept that you’re going to get a hundred cameos shoved at you in one frame. If you can pretend you don’t recognise all the Overwatch/Batman characters, you’re left with the same feel good movie.

The performances from our main characters are great, especially considering half of it was CGI Mocap, it felt real and believable. Mendelsohn plays a great menacing villain once again. The humour is on point. You are thrust into the action straight from the get go and they never really take their foot off the gas. Allowing a handful of moments for you to catch your breathe. I one hundred percent recommend seeing it.

Level 2: Spoilers Ahead!

So as stated it is very different from the book, which is understandable to make it more engaging for a viewing audience. Right from the get go, the school planet, the only one Parzival can visit in the book is replaced with an epic and impossible race no one can win to get to the first key. The gates are wholly abandoned, I’m guessing due to time restraints all films must abide by.

Also forgoing Parzival using his new fame to make money sponsoring products. Buying his own planet. The long frustrating wait between finding the keys. In the movie it all happens rather consecutively one after the other. The War Games recreation is replaced rather ingeniously by a recreation of The Shining. In one of the best sequences in the film. As well as replacing Wade’s involvement on the inside of IOI with Art3mis. However the spirit and overall path taken were kept the same.

One thing I am rather thankful that they changed was the focus on the eighties, whilst still keeping it present. It didn’t feel real in the books, sure everyone loves the eighties, but it took away from all the great things that have been made since. Plus almost every kid from the twenty-forties being obsessed with only things from fifty years ago was unbelievable. This issue was resolved in the film with the inclusion of great things such as Overwatch, Street Fighter and a personal favourite, The Iron Giant, on top of tons more. I am at least now sated enough not to ask for an Iron Giant sequel for another ten years. What else is there to say? Except for… “It’s fucking Chucky!”

Level 3: Game Over?

The problems I had with this film are very miniscule, mainly that they didn’t touch on the school aspect of things. The idea in the book that everyone had a right to free learning and that’s where he hid the first key. Simon Pegg’s Ogden Morrow wasn’t a particularly big part, like the removal of his ball scene, that showed off his godly admin powers. Mainly I was just upset that they didn’t show the Iron Giant going full war mode. Though the Terminator sign off kind of made up for that. Really I find it hard to hate anything in this film, I mean, who ever thought they’d see an epic fight between The Iron Giant, MechaGodzilla and a Gundam? Is that the possibility of a live action Gundam movie we see in our future? We can only hope.

OK the character’s are a little flat and the story is a little typical, but what were you expecting? This is E.T. and the Goonies on steroids.

Continue…?

This is something I have wanted to see since I was a little kid. So many of our favourite characters under one roof, in one movie! I mean that’s why we love Marvel movies right? Why we enjoy the idea of Alien vs. Predator? Seeing these character’s come together. I think, if you hate that this is one film about a hundred other films, you were always going to hate it. Frankly, why did you even bother? But if you can let go, and just enjoy seeing these character’s interact with one another, you will love it. Just be open to some meaningful light hearted fun about video games. If anything it will leave you hopeful as an insight for the future. The technological virtual reality side anyway, not the murderous corporation dystopia. This is a future Spielberg classic, prepared to stick around for a while.

GeekVault Score:

9/10

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View from the Vault: Pacific Rim Uprising Review

View from the Vault: Pacific Rim Uprising Review

 

What’s not to love about giant robots fighting? OK so Transformers isn’t a good example, but we’re talking Pacific Rim here! This is GeekVault’s movie review of Pacific Rim Uprising. Starting without spoilers. I was sceptical going into this after watching the trailer, which left me unsatisfied. I loved what Guillermo Del Toro had achieved in the first Pacific Rim, gritty but fun and believable giant robot versus monster action. The Uprising trailer however read like a big studio getting it’s grubby hands on a small profitable movie and twisting it into a blown up mediocre mess, as we have seen happen so often. I can tell you I was wrong.

My main worries from the trailer were as follows, why are they all children? Why is John Boyega a rich party playboy kid? Why are all the robots so shiny and indiscernible? How does this little girl have her own Jaeger? Most of my concerns were addressed directly by the film and made sense within the context, other worries just washed away when you fully embraced the cheesiness of giant robot vs. monster madness.

Spoiler Free Zone

The story goes… It has been ten years since the rift was closed. Jake Pentecost (Boyega) son of famed late ranger Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) gets reenlisted to the Jaeger Pilot program after getting caught in an illegal Jaeger with Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). They have to stick together to try and find their place in the programme, to become Jaeger pilots. Everything is knocked up a gear when the mysterious rogue Jaeger, Obsidian Fury, attacks. They have to figure out who this rogue Jaeger is and what they want. All whilst worrying about Shao Industries plans to replace pilots with drones. Featuring the return of favourite characters such as Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) Newt (Charlie Day) and Hermann (Burn Gorman).

Ultimately if you enjoyed the first Pacific Rim you will enjoy this one, it is by no means perfect, all movies have their flaws, but this one is a lot of fun. It feels different enough to be it’s own movie and yet still with the same character and heart of Del Toro’s original vision. The kid’s aren’t bad actors, they feel real, and John Boyega puts in a good leading performance, stretching his chops outside of Star Wars. Topped off with a coherent naturally progressive story and fun giant robot action. A good enjoyable family friendly movie, worth watching.

Alert! Spoilers! Alert!

OK so unless you’ve seen the film or don’t care for spoilers turn back now. You’ve been warned.

As I said before I had some fears watching the trailer and was frankly not all that interested to go see the movie. It took some convincing. I’m happy with how my concerns were resolved. They aren’t all kids, like I thought, Jake is immediately reinstated as a ranger alongside Lambert (Scott Eastwood) and the “kids” are just cadets now that the Jaeger programme is more of a police academy. They just happen to be a focal point of the story.

Also Jake was not some spoilt party kid, instead living in half of an abandoned mansion, trading and stealing goods to get by, amongst a Kaiju/Jaeger graveyard. The little girl, Amara, has built her adorable Jaeger, Scrapper, from junk that’s lying around or stolen. It is stated that there have been other homemade Jaeger’s and that they are illegal. She’s afraid, somewhat rightfully, the Kaiju will come back and, after losing her family in an attack, she wants to be prepared for when they do. It’s all understandable and works within the film.

The Problems

The shiny new robots is something I still have a problem with, it wasn’t major and I still ended up loving Bracer Phoenix and Saber Athena, but it would have been nice to have seen more variation in design, like the first Pacific Rim. Using the Russian meme song was unnecessary. Not enough of the characters died unlike the first one, which gave a realistic edge. There was no real mention of what Raleigh (Hunnam) was doing now. Drift compatibility wasn’t as important anymore. No Ron Perlman! Unfortunately it does fall foul to the trope of “kids are the only ones left to save the day”. Also somehow only the base we had focused on was able to get any Jaegers functional to fight the Kaiju worldwide, it would have been nice for a couple other’s to drop in even to just be killed.

As I said not a perfect film.

My main issue is with Mako and her death. It felt unnecessary, she was a great character that I would have loved to see piloting a Jaeger once more. It does little more than to push Jake to stay in the programme. The real problem is the gravity sling. Right before she is crashing they initiate it, at which point I’m like “great, makes sense, that’s how they will catch her”. They just use it to throw cars at the rogue Obsidian Fury! Then jump to reach, and fail, to catch Mako’s falling helicopter. They don’t even try to use the gravity sling to save her! Other than that it’s all pretty good.

Overall

I’m glad they went with Del Toro’s original plan, to make Charlie Day’s character the villain after drifting with Kaiju brain, it was up in the air for a second there, but I was happy when they finally landed on it. Look it’s exactly what it says on the tin, giant robots fighting giant robots and even bigger monsters. There is no complex thought about it. It is cheesy. It is a megaton of fun. Just go with it.

GeekVault Score:

7/10