4DX Experience & Film Review “Ready Player One”

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 140 minutes

Film: 4.5 out of 5 stars
4DX Experience: 3.5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars

“Ready Player One” is easily my most anticipated film of the year. There was a lot riding on this film for me and a lot of anticipation. This is one of the first times that I have read the book before seeing the movie. I never read one of the “Harry Potter” or “The Lord of the Rings” books to date. Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” is one of the best books that I have read (not only once but multiple times). The audio book read by “Star Trek: The Next Generation” star Wil Wheaton is highly recommended. That being said, the movie is MEGA different from the book. I am honestly cool with it because I see how and why most changes were made and I am really happy with the film adaptation. In fact, I would say that is my favorite film that I have seen this year…and I say this because as of writing I have already seen the film twice, once in 2D and once in 3D with 4DX experience, which are two very different ways to experience this film. This is a film that gets better with each follow up viewing and I can’t wait to see it again!

I am just so excited and I can’t hold it in anymore, so let’s just start with how much pop culture is filled in this film. BEWARE, this paragraph ONLY has a few Easter Egg SPOILERS, but then again a few are from the trailers. There are nearly 100 Easter Eggs already that already have been found in this film. Some are super hidden and blink and you miss and some are just in your face awesome like visiting The Overlook Hotel from “The Shining” and getting to relive a few scenes with newly created CG footage. This shit was downright terrifying. “The Shining” is easily my favorite horror film of all time and this really left me saying “WOW!” A few of the brief ones that I literally almost lunged out of my chair were Battletoads, Spawn, the RV from “Spaceballs”, Jason Voorhees, the new live-action Ninja turtles, the ship from “Firefly”, Serenity and reference to “Pilotwings”. I really enjoyed the ability to watch the film and just stare in amazement as to how many amazing cameos their were. I felt the same way about “Wreck-it Ralph” when I first saw it and still to today. I am always looking for something new and I have a feeling I will be doing the same with “Ready Player One”,

Here is the film’s official premise: From filmmaker Steven Spielberg comes the action adventure “Ready Player One,” based on Ernest Cline’s bestseller of the same name, which has become a worldwide phenomenon.   In the year 2045, the real world is a harsh place.  The only time Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) truly feels alive is when he escapes to the OASIS, an immersive virtual universe where most of humanity spends their days.  In the OASIS, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone—the only limits are your own imagination.  The OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance), who left his immense fortune and total control of the Oasis to the winner of a three-part contest he designed to find a worthy heir.  When Wade conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends—called the High Five—are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS.

Ok, so let’s talk about the different ways, I have experienced this film. First I saw it in 2D on a decent size screen. Let’s end this quick, this is NOT the way to see this movie. This needs to be experienced in IMAX or on the biggest screen possible. Second time, I saw this film it was in 4DX, which is the ultimate movie going experience with motion seats, environmental & water effects. I went with a friend who has never been to 4DX and he said that this was the perfect way to experience this film. I enjoyed the 4DX experience for “Ready Player One” but I didn’t love it. I felt like it was absolutely perfect for a few scenes like the race to the first key, which was like being in a long-ass rollercoaster ride. I enjoyed the 4DX experience for “Pacific Rim: Uprising” much more it just felt like it was always moving. With “Ready Player One” it was more every once in a while I remembered I was in a 4DX experience and I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong. The 3D definitely added to the experience. When they dived into the Oasis, the 3D depth really kicked in and blew me away.

The cast I have to admit was an odd to me, since I am not that aware of the young stars Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke. I enjoyed their avatar characters and the motion capture used to achieve their performances. I also dug Ben Mendelsohn as the baddie. T.J. Miller appeared as avatar only, no real life character (probably due to harassment issues) but he was useless in the movie. Simon Pegg popped up for a minute here and there but definitely delivered the film’s heart as did Mark Rylance, who just blew it out of the park. I hated that he beat Slyvester Stallone (nominated for “Creed”) for Best Supporting Actor in 2015 for his role in “Bridge of Spies” and then even more after “The BFG” but he was simply amazing as James Halliday! Spielberg was smart for bringing he onto this film. He made me smile every time he spoke.

Let’s get on the topic of the director, Steven Spielberg. I originally thought that this film was not right for him as a director. But after seeing the film twice now, I know it was not ruined and he did a real solid job at trying to deliver the most exciting and satisfying adaption he could for the fans. He even threw in nodes to his own films like “Jurassic Park”. He really captured that nostalgic feeling for me. As we are watching the action unfold in “Ready Player One”, the score switches to cues from “Back to the Future” and you get chills up and down following by the audience screaming “Whoa!!!” That is a great feeling in a movie theater and that is how you know when you have a winner on your hands.

I know I haven’t gone into too much detail about how this is different from the book, cause honestly I really don’t care. The movie is different and I still liked it a lot. I also love the book, which is extremely detailed and dives more deep into the pop culture world. I personally learned so much from the book about tons of film, music and TV references. The film is a slimmed down working of the book. The process finding the keys and the opening of the gates are the biggest change that I recall. I know there are a few other major events that doesn’t carry through in the movie but I appreciate how they molded the world in the book into a fun and exciting popcorn flick!  Like I said, I have a feeling that I am not going to stop at two viewings of this film. It’s very likely I will be seeing this at least once more in the theaters, definitely IMAX 3D and seeking out some more Easter Eggs!

 

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Blu-ray Review "Easter Parade (1948)"

Actors: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Peter Lawford, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin
Directors: Charles Walters
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: February 19, 2013
Run Time: 107 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Easter Parade” is hitting Blu-ray for the first time, thanks to Warner Brothers.   The talent in this film is completely overflowing with Judy Garland, Fred Astaire and the wonderful music of Irving Berlin. The film was originally set to star Gene Kelly but he was unable to star so Astaire came out of his recently announced retirement to take over. This really works with Astaire in the lead role. The film is celebrating its 65th Anniversary this year and this Blu-ray is a must purchase. I am looking forward to making this a yearly revisit each Easter season!

Official Synopsis: If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em! When his long-time dance partner abandons him for the Ziegfeld Follies, Don Hewes decides to show who’s who what’s what by choosing any girl out of a chorus line and transforming her into a star. So he makes his choice and takes his chances. Of course, since Fred Astaire portrays Don and Judy Garland plays the chorine, we know we’re in for an entertainment sure thing.

If you like music than this should be right up your alley, with seventeen musical numbers, all written by Berlin (ten of them are standards and seven are new specifically for the film). If you like dancing that you will love Fred Astaire’s dance solos, including “Drum Crazy” and “Steppin’ Out with My Baby”.  Judy Garland gets to shine those vocals with the song “Better Luck Next Time.” The music and dancing will leave you with a smile on your face and your toes tapping.

Warner really delivered a fantastic Blu-ray release.  The film has never looked better.  I originally saw this film on TCM and almost it claimed to be HD, it was a very poor print.  This 1080 transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 looking clearing stunning.  The film is 65 years old, so there is a little age to it but it only adds to the charm of its time.  Since the film is a musical, the DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 track really delivers the songs quite well and never fail to entertain. They are well balanced and have never sounded better.  There is also a Dolby Digital 1.0 track also available but obviously I prefer the HD track still.

Since this is the 65th Anniversary Edition, there is no storage of fantastic extras.  First up we have an nice audio commentary with Ava Astaire McKenzie, Fred’s granddaughter and John Fricke, a historian/author on The Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland. Very fun and entertaining. “Easter Parade: On the Avenue” is a fantastic 30 minutes featurette on this wonderful production. “American Masters – Judy Garland: By Myself” looks into the career of the actress.  There are an outtake and dailies from the scene “Mr. Monotony”.  There is an audio only vintage radio promo from the film, as well as a 3/11/1951 Screen Guild Theater Broadcast.  Lastly there is a theatrical trailer included.