Super Long Review! "Ready Player One" Is The 2010's "Back to the Future"

I hated the Ready Player One trailer. Anything marketed to teenage video game people was not for me. Would I like this movie at all? Would I have to know all the latest video game lingo and trivia?

As someone who has never read the book, judging by how this ready-played out on film, the movie surely looks better than the book. I'm of that camp believing Harry Potter movies > the book. Most movies > the book. Hate me. I'm saying it!

On July 3, 1985, some Ebert critic person you may have heard of reviewed Back to the Future.

The movie, in fact, resembles Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” more than other, conventional time-travel movies. It’s about a character who begins with one view of his life and reality, and is allowed, through magical intervention, to discover another. Steven Spielberg was the executive producer, and this is the second of the summer’s three Spielberg productions (it follows “The Goonies” and precedes “Explorers”), and maybe it’s time to wonder if Spielberg is emulating the great studio chiefs of the past, who specialized in matching the right director with the right project. This time, the match works with charm, brains and a lot of laughter.
— Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

Has time passed? Switch the director info and have Mr. Spielberg direct Back to the Future. There you have it! Ready Player One. Same plot type, theme, film composer if you want to nerd out. Mr. Alan Silvestri! Night at the Museum sounded like it could've been anyone's work. Good enough stuff for a mainstream, family friendly, goofy film–you didn't know it was him. The Parent Trap. Hmmm, no, his music disappeared into that Disney-ness. You hear the music in this movie and know, that sounds familiar. Oh, could it be...and you wonder if he reached somewhere into his brain's vault recording the forgotten Back to the Future theme he never recorded. Yeay!

Visually, if the Academy has a heart, they will give the animators an award. For the sheer number of effects and animation alone, please! Technically FX/CGI is animation. You know what I mean. From start to finish, the animation crew didn't get a break. The film twists and turns. Some animations are meant to look fake. The cartoon-ish faux dinosaur chasing everyone down in the King Kong NYC car race looks like a video game character. And others, not so much. Maybe I appreciate the film more because it fulfills the proper CGI requirement. When experiencing reality that could never be real in film, our human brains don't have little alarm clocks screaming, "This looks fake!" Use CGI when it's surreal; drop it when you can shoot the real thing on some expensive studio set. Go on IMDb. Count all the Visual Effects credits names. I started and lost count at 400 when my cat started meowing in my face. Not going to start recounting right now, ha. It looks like about 430-450 people.

Mr. Ebert probably would have loved Ready Player One. His staff today, not so much.

The action is breathless and non-stop, both in the virtual reality and the reality reality, but wallowing in ‘80s nostalgia is only so much fun for so long.
— Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com

80's nostalgia, 90's nostalgia, OK, any nostalgia, bores me. Leave it behind in the dust, Buzzfeed Nickelodeon lists. Have you ever heard Walt Disney's motto, "keep moving forward?" Accusing Ready Player One of appealing to 80's nostalgics is ridiculous, and if you want to go right ahead and do so, how is King Kong 80's? He's a mark of the Great Depression. Can I go all Elle Woods on you folks at RogerEbert.com? “The rules of film nostalgia are simple and finite! Any mid-century Cosmo girl wannabe filmmaker would have known!" And oh yeah, I've seen Cameron Diaz in the street actually I strongly believe wearing an orange sweater, ohhh. I am not kidding, someone pointed her out to me once, like, "Oh, that's Cameron Diaz. She's so pretty." I suck at recognizing actresses in person. She was actually wearing an orange sweater. Was it angora? I don't know. Too bad the sighting occurred in NYC and not LA's Fred Segal. I would've almost wet my pants laughing at my ability to be a living Elle Woods because I already get compared most of my days to Cher Horowitz. :P

Hey, it's a diary. I can go off on this personal tidbits without a care in the world! Did you think this were The Hollywood Reporter?

Get your decades right, haters. And when you're done, please direct a movie organizing a cast and crew of this magnitude. Show me how you did. Because I am making my own little shorts right now, hustling on animation, getting actors to nail all their lines right in every language dubbing, animating my own work, using green screens, and it pales in comparison to Ready Player One. Clearly, it's a lot easier to play backseat driver to Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro, all these men and critique it like, "Ohhhhhhh, this movie is not on par with Lady Bird, a coming of age tale about a daughter fighting with her mom that's only been done by Disney and Lifetime and NBC and MTV at times and Paramount at times and every channel on TV for half a century in both cinematic and made for television movies. Let's give it 2.5 stars." No hating on Lady Bird. Cute movie, sure. No comparison to the amount of work, thought, sweat, blood, tears, and yeah I mean tears of stress probably, it took to make Ready Player One. RogerEbert.com's crew rated Lady Bird 3.5 stars. OK, are you kidding me!??!

The opening moments of “Lady Bird” accomplish so much so quickly, it takes your breath away...“Lady Bird” might not be perfect, but it touched many of the right emotional buttons for me.
— Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com

Something tells me, and maybe it's because I had a really good smoked lox and capers cream cheese sandwich today that I'm so feisty, with totally amazing original(! aka plain but salty!) flavor chips if you must know, these film reviews are skewed because they're written by female reviewers who'd probably prefer to watch the 2017 Lifetime remake of Beaches over any solid science fiction release. Being a female film fan should have little to do with critiquing. OK, you know me? I can't stand most rom-coms and sit them out. I no longer review most of that material on my very awesome NicoleRussinMcFarland.com and threw away a load of my old reviews. I know myself. My heart hates them. I don't purposely give a good romcom a bad review on my site because I happen to hate them. The meanie critics' reviews of Ready Player One from a quick glance all appear penned by women.

Ready Player One nevertheless falls short of recapturing that old-school Spielberg blockbuster magic.
— Sandy Schaefer, Screen Rant

Male critics are honest. You'll find some sorrrrt of like it and some love it. Mr. Barber here assigned it a full 5 star review!

It’s dazzling stuff. Recently, a generation of directors has been paying homage to Spielberg’s popcorn films (in Super 8, Jurassic World, and Stranger Things, for example), but with Ready Player One he proves with stunning aplomb that no one does Spielberg quite like Spielberg. No one has more empathy with pasty American kids from broken homes. No one packs scenes with so much information, or elaborate action set pieces with so much energy, while ensuring that you always know what’s going on and why.
— Nicholas Barber, BBC

And you know what this says about us to studios, right? I can see them thinking here.

"Female critics and fans online dislike Ready Player One. That means we need to scrap all movies starring characters as leads like Ready Player One's Art3mis/Samantha. Girls won't watch them. Nobody wants to watch female leads doing action movies. No sci-fi. Girls have to be stuck with several hundred more remakes of Beaches. Give those #metoo people another movie about women striking at work against unequal paychecks. Some DC march film!"

And you know what? As someone who is, I mean, unless I were to walk around with a glued on mooo-stashe and dress like the Monopoly man called Uncle Pennybags, presumably stuck in this female body and female-ness for life. I was once a young girl. Someone who would watch movies like this and wonder why all the parts in them had to belong to boys and not girls. When we used to pretend to be the people in movies at school out on the playground, I hated how the girls sat around and air kissed guys and had no proper use. Everything was about the guys going off on adventures. I never got to be Luke Skywalker. I was Leia, who sat around waiting for Luke to rescue her. I wanted to at least be Chewbacca and have hair all over my body and make mouthwash-gargle bear noises that require subtitles. At least Chewie ventured into space with his friends and went to that weird space bar. I got Leia, and all I did was roll my hair into buns and sit there waiting a few minutes of eternity until Luke saved me off the playground equipment.

Somewhere, maybe critics won't like this, but a million girls on some playground because of this movie don't have to sit around waiting for stuff to happen. They have an example of a girl character who has ideas, cool weapons, a bike, a strong personality, at one point saves the guy(!!!!), and does stuff. You could if you were school kids play out the parts from this movie, each person taking turns in the doing stuff. Or all at once. How fun would it be to pretend you're escaping zombies in that one scene?!

But no, I worry so much that kids are doomed because a bunch of critics who think Real Housewives qualifies as awesome entertainment, and I'm sorry Housewives, some of you can be really nice when I have met you, but it's my wish that you women had a show that portrayed you as strong businesswomen or great moms instead of women fighting all the time. Anyhow, because female critics might rather watch that, I worry about the children and the people like me who remember what it's like to be children. You're ineffectively throwing away future kids' dream films and playtime. Removing movies that could be financed that show girls of tomorrow, yes, I can be a pirate princess! And use that mentality when they grow up to be amazing school principals, vets, doctors, or...you know, movie directors. ;)

Not all of us want another movie about women coming of age or marching in Washington. Jennifer Aniston falling in love with a guy. And that's not knocking characters, it's me saying, real life is so boring, why can't I have a movie about a girl I wish I were like if I were a kid again?

If you're wondering why this review is so long, it's because I was bored in a medical checkup waiting room and had nothing going on. I was passionate!

Mr. Spielberg is famous for Lincoln and stuff like that. The people I know who love his work tell me they love E.T.HookThe BFG. These are people who make movies and some who don't. Many who don't. Do you know what it is meeting a Wimbledon tennis star, a guy who cuts cheese at Whole Foods, an Oscar nominated filmmaker, a guy who sells shoes at the mall, all these people, and when they ask me about movies, the first thing they say is, "My favorite film is E.T."? I don't think a movie has to win awards to touch people. Mr. Spielberg seems to touch people most with his child-like movies, and I like that he brings out young actors I've never heard of in my life and pulls out these incredible acting performances.

I hate taking credit for other people's ideas. Without further ado, Anthony Sanchez (@impromptu88 on Twitter) asked me online to discuss the product placement issue in this film. Hi Anthony. So Anthony had heard about some people finding all the product placement obnoxious. I read a few bad film reviews before watching this. That combined with my dislike of the trailer did not help things. I thought I was in for a long haul with M&Ms, Starbucks, Donkey Kong, all these things, or a remake of Wreck-It Ralph for adults. And in answering your question, the product placement was far away from my mind, so far I didn't think of the idea until you asked me. They don't mention the Iron Giant much. The Back to the Future car doesn't get name dropped when it's there. Nothing really gets mentioned. You see it. It's kindnnnndaaaa-aaaaah there and the scene passes. Whereas a movie like the Austin Powers franchise, makes the Starbucks reference front and center.

I would have loved this movie so much were I 10 years old in a theater, an IMAX, viewing this. I'd probably scream and watch it again. I felt that way not so much with E.T. but more, I guess if I had to pick something from this gentleman's catalogue, Men in Black, when I first saw each of them theatrically. There's nothing like going to school this morning and being like, "I just saw Men in Black. ON A WEEKNIGHT. Oh yeah. And what did you do? Study? Ha! I never study because I'm so smart and know what to do!" I am not kidding. I said really stuck up stuff like that when I was ten years old. I have humbled a lot since then, thank goodness. I was ten when I, really on a weeknight, was taken by my dad to go see Men in Black when he was on call from the hospital. I remember people being mad in the audience because his phone would ring, and he had to go get up between it to talk to nurses in the back about patients' prescriptions. Wonder what the nurses thought when they heard the background, haha. I also brought in some McDonald's hamburgers and fries into the theater. Everyone smelled them and stared at me. They were jealous they didn’t think of that brilliant idea first. Too bad for them. They were my burgers and I ate them. It was lots of fun.

The actor I loved in this movie was Mark Rylance, who plays the Steve Jobs type character. At first, I said, "Wow, this guy is a really good actor!" Google, google...it's the same guy from Bridge of Spies who won an Oscar, of course he's a good actor, silly. He's in Dunkirk! I don't know, maybe because he gets so in depth in a role, I tend not to notice him as an actor in the film. I notice the character. With most actors, I say, "That's Ryan Reynolds in a movie with people around him. RYAN REYNOLDS." I don't believe he is the character because all I notice is him. And Mr. Rylance proves you don't need fancy wigs, shoes, weird makeup to be convincingly different in a Madonna-esque new-album-new-personality change, chameleon acting level. And of course, I wasn't going to recognize him as The BFG because, obviously, he's not an actual giant. :P

mark-rylance-oscar-movies-awards.jpg

All joking aside, you have no idea how hard it is playing a convincingly nice character. People study for years. Villains can do crazy laughs. Most people have enough bad, or plenty of bad, within them enough to be convincing villains. Harder is playing a living person because you have to be someone who existed, walked, talked, was someone's mom or dad. And hardest of all is playing a sweet person. I don't know how one reaches within his or her soul to do that. But actors have discussed training with me and how you have to reach there. It's amazingly hard. Thus, I admire Mr. Rylance tremendously and hope if by some chance he can pull a Golden Globe acting nomination for this. Hey, an Oscar if you can. Sci-fi doesn't get any love. Maybe Heath Ledger's win can turn things around.

The finale theme about reality being so much better than a fake reality where you “can be anyone you want to be” is powerful to kids.  The book of the same title was published in 2011 and likely written before that. 2009? 2010? Authors I’ve met sometimes spend one or more years editing and rewriting. At the time this book was likely thought up in the author’s mind, Instagram had yet to heat up. Spotify wasn’t as popular. Accessible films and music were only beginning. And, people were spending far less time online. In those days, 2008-2010, people thought we were spending too much time hooked to screens. By today’s standards, we look back and think of that era as prehistoric. If anything, it’ll only get further down the hole. This film’s message of reality as beauty is only going to be more relatable in a few decades.

I love getting every opportunity to chat with you guys here on my diary. I feel like I am talking to my closest friends sharing my love of watching all kinds of things. And today, I really felt like grabbing some elderly near me and shouting about Ready Player One at them because I get so excited about these details. I don't know. It's kind of a dorky hobby and sometimes, I feel like a loner until I meet other people who share the same hobby of obsessing over movies while we feast on buttered popcorn. I have to only eat popcorn because I'm done with the days of sugaring it up as a youth and getting diabetic sick by the next post-movie morning. Very uncool; your body deserves to be treated well. But anyway, popcorn, movies, chitchat, very me. I'm so grateful whenever I meet people and they say, "I read your post on Wonder Woman!" or some flick. I hope someday people share that enthusiasm for my little Amazon Prime animated shorts. Hey, don't give me flack. I need an animation crew before I can jump to theatrical releases HAHA!!!! ;)

xoxo, Nic <3

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