Ready Player One review - Poster

Vic’s Ready Player One Review (Non-Spoilers)

What would be the easiest way for me to express my feelings for a Ready Player One review? Go see the movie and remember that Steven Spielberg is a Director of some renown? Sure. I feel you will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t make it out to an actual movie theater and see it? Maybe. Nostalgia is not the be all and end all for the film? Definitely a truth, and in addition a valid point. No, the easiest way for me to sum up a Ready Player One review is that Spielberg has delivered a very fun film.

Obviously as I have already stated in previous posts, I admit I am one of the target audience. Of course I would be woefully inept if I didn’t mention the Retroist summed up the problems facing the film better than myself. But the truth is this. Ready Player One while not a perfect film is the closest we’ve come to seeing the Spielberg that brought us some genre-forging films. Similar to the likes of Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Furthermore, I truly feel that not only Spielberg but Zak Penn have taken the core of Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel. I don’t want to stay improved it, but perhaps brought other elements of the story to the forefront. Case in point, Art3mis, wonderfully played by Olivia Cooke. Many critics have lashed out at Cline…and with reason…that her role in the book is something akin to a prize to be won. I am happy to say that in the film version that couldn’t be further than the truth, yes, it’s still a love story but no one is being ‘won’.
Ready Player One review - Olivia Cooke

Tye Sheridan does a very good job of portraying the main protagonist of the film, Wade Watts aka Parzival. To be fair the film’s beginning might be considered a little heavy on the exposition. On the other hand this is a case where the audience needs to get caught up on the fly. So I think it’s honest to say that the filmmakers didn’t make a mistake in this regard. Lena Waithe, Ben Mendelsohn, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki, as well as Simon Pegg do great jobs with their roles too. Although I felt that Mark Rylance stole the show, in his scenes as the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday.
Ready Player One review - James Halliday

Of course as has been seen in the trailers, in fact too much so, is the pop culture celebrated by the film. In that superior post by the Retroist, he wisely mentions that the marketing for the film. Had indeed slightly missed the point of the film itself. The nostalgia that those of us of a certain age will feel while watching the film…isn’t the film. It would however be fair to say that it is used as something akin to window dressing. In fact Cline’s 2015 follow up novel Armada goes way, way too far with the nostalgia. I want my main takeaway from this Ready Player One review to be this. In no way is the pop culture nods or nostalgia ever rammed down your throat or the like. It is most CERTAINLY celebrated but Spielberg yet again knows this isn’t what the movie is about.
Ready Player One - Bigfoot

Naturally since this is my Ready Player One review, I reckon I better tell you the synopsis. It is 2045 and Wade is like practially everyone on the planet. Just trying to find some relief from the oppressing life he was born into. It does appear that every Man, Woman, and Child find escape by way of a staggering virtual reality universe known as the OASIS. Which had been created earlier by Halliday and his best friend Ogden Morrow (Pegg), before a falling out saw Halliday becoming sole owner of the technology. The creator of the OASIS was literally loved by the World…and why not?
Ready Player One review - Parzival and Art3mis

This virtual reality paradise, assuming you can afford it, lets you do anything. With the right equipment you can even have physical contact, for good or ill. Many aspects of pop culture have been given literally their own planets. For example, Planet Doom, which appears to be a free-for-all. Especially when artifacts are up for grabs. Think of these as incredibly rare and powerful power-ups, to be used and hoarded by those throughout the OASIS.
Ready Player One review - Planet Doom

James Halliday has died several years before the start of Ready Player One. While the World mourns the loss of such a genius, the eccentric has a little game to play still. That is the fact that he has created the greatest Easter egg hunt. Somewhere in the overwhelming vastness of the OASIS are hidden three keys, the player that finds them will inherit Halliday’s fortune. As well as the OASIS itself I should add – which would make them the most powerful person on the planet. Which is of course why the IOI, an telecommunications empire wants to make sure they are the ones who find Halliday’s Easter Egg.

Obviously, Wade and his fellow Gunters, those who hunt for the keys and aren’t employed by IOI – find themselves in the crosshair of that powerful corporation. It becomes a race to see who will gain control of the OASIS…and Halliday’s dream of a better world.

Ready Player One, friends…it is an incredibly entertaining film. A joyride that sums up why I so dearly love movies. Many of those films that I hold so dear, were of course directed and produced by Steven Spielberg. It is an absolute blast to see him rekindle the ‘spirit’ of some of his earlier work. A film which understands the delights of all pop culture and most importantly, has a lot of heart.

That 80’s feeling is helped by a score composed by the legendary Alan Silvestri. So the last thing in this Ready Player One review is the opportunity to hear the main theme from the film. Enjoy!

[via] WaterTower Music

Video Review of 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe for the Atari 2600

Today’s video review is of the “3-D” gaming classic, 3-D Tick Tac Toe for the Atari 2600.

The video format and all that fun stuff is a work in progress. If you have any video or animation skills though and would like to send me some advice or help with anything, please email me at retroist@retroist.com. You can subscribe to the Retroist YouTube channel here. More videos from people who are not me should be coming soon to the site, so keep watching.

The Retroist Review of Super 8

I went through a lot of trouble to avoid all info and news about Super 8. When you spend a lot of time on the internet, this can be challenging, when you happen to do a Nostalgia blog and podcast, it is work. But I am proud to say, outside of the poster and the trailer, I knew nothing about Super 8 before getting the opportunity to see it today.

I wanted to see it on Friday or even Saturday, I just could not get to the theater, but I am pleased to say that today I pulled the trigger and I am happy I finally saw it and even happier I avoided everything about the film beforehand. It has twists and turns and lots of those things could easily be spoiled. Because of this I am going to give my recommendation about the film before I finish the review. So that if you are foolish enough to value my opinion, you will know what I think without being exposed to spoilers.

Do see this movie! it is totally mint! If you like nostalgia (and your probably do if you are reading this), this movie is a well made feast for the retroist in all of us.

Now what follows is spoilers. So turn back if you have no interest (or too much interest?)

The film starts during the wake of an industrial accident in the late 1970s, where we learn the main character’s mother was killed in some horrible industrial accident. The main character, Joe Lamb, is played by Joel Courtney, who throughout the film maintains an understated and evolving character while not coming across as distant or quirky. Joe is a kid with geek cred, he does make-up on his friend’s zombie film, builds models late at night while listening to the radio. In other words, for me, it was very hard not to like this character. Joe also a distant father and a charming group of friends who are putting together a zombie film using 8mm film equipment. The making of the zombie film is how the movie moves forward. (Spoiler: make sure to stay for the credits to see the actual film).

This is a good opportunity to include the official film synopsis which sums things up pretty well:

Set in 1979 Ohio, a group of six young children use a Super 8 camera to make their own zombie movie. One night while filming near a remote stretch of railroad tracks, the children witness a truck collide with an oncoming train leading to a catastrophic derailment. Amidst the fire and destruction, something inhuman emerges.

So… while making their zombie flick, an accident happens on a train they are filming near, that unleashes an alien that has been imprisoned and mistreated by the government and wants to get home (more on that in a second). What follows is a horror/adventure (with a dash of innocent romance) that is as strong an homage to the 1970s/1980s Steven Spielberg as I have ever seen. Does it capture all of the magic of Spielberg? Not exactly and the film did leave me wanting in some departments, but overall it blew my mind. Let’s cut straight to the “why”.

This movie was made for me?
I was sitting outside the theater afterwards with a mother who had taken her son to see the film. He thought it was okay. She was enthusiastic. Why? She was about my age and grew up in this time period, I would hope that lots of the elements in this film are universal, but some elements seem so specific to the era (including some gags), that I imagine some of those things went right over her son’s head. When Spielberg made his movies, he made it contemporary (for the time), it was just so well done that it appealed to everyone. I am happy that Abrams did this film in the late 1970s, but I wonder if he missed the opportunity to make the next Goonies or E.T.

Which is really where I wanted to get to in a hurry.

Yeah I knew E.T. before Elliot -- Before it was cool

Is Super 8 a prequel to E.T??
The movie reveals stuff pretty quickly about the alien and his relationship with the government who found him. You hear it from the scientist who causes the train accident while trying to free the alien. Because of what he said, for the first 40% of the movie I kept thinking about what the scientist said. Basically that the government was doing bad things to this alien. It seems that they had warped it in some way and at that moment, before I saw the alien in any real way, I thought, “Is this movie a prequel to E.T?”

Then I got a look at the alien from a distance and I thought, no way.

Then I got a look at the alien up close and I thought. Holy cow, this could be a prequel to E.T. Those eyes, that face, this poor alien definitely has E.T. qualities. Even his makeshift tinkering in his subterranean layer screamed E.T. Could the E.T race adapt in a horrible way to horrible conditions? He seemed so fragile.

Now I know nothing of the intentions of Abrams or Spielberg and I have not seen what others are saying on the web, and perhaps I am reading too much into the film, but I don’t care! That thing is related to E.T. If I had a still of this alien up close, I would post it here to try and illustrate my point, but you see it and tell me I am wrong (I probably am — I just love E.T.)

Okay, I got that off my chest now onto my biggest problem with the film.

A Lot O’ Plot
The main thing I had a problem with the film is that it felt overly ambitious. It tried to squeeze so much character, so much plot and so much clever nostalgia onto the screen at once that it made some parts feel unnecessary. So…

  • Is this a story about friends? Does each one need to show off some skill before peeling off from the group?
  • Is this a story about an estranged father and son?
  • Is this a story of innocent budding romance?
  • Is this a monster movie?
  • Is this a story about how evil the government can be and how we should be paranoid?
  • Is this a story about aliens?
  • Is this a story about forgiveness?
  • Is this a story about growing up?
  • Is this a movie with ample lens flares?

What is great about Super 8 and also what makes it hard to digest at times is that it is all this and more. It has a little something for everyone, the problem is when you have a little something for everyone, you lose focus. I personally would have liked a few plotlines like the father/son and father/daughter estrangement to be implied, so that they could have focused more on the monster plotline or the idea of friends outgrowing each other.

I could probably go on for days about the movie, as it is I am just spewing information out faster than I can digest it. In a nutshell, this is a film that seems tailor-made for my lifestyle and entertainment needs and I will be analyzing and enjoying it for years to come. It is not a perfect film for everyone, but for me now, not younger me, this film is a home run. The perfect popcorn accompanied treat on a balmy summer evening.

Outside of the story and directing, it is well acted with standout performance by a young talented cast (in a remarkable twist everyone of them is likable) and even if it is not a prequel to E.T. (which it is) it is worth seeing twice (I already have plans to see it again this week – so be ready for me to flip flop on the E.T. thing later this week).