Movie reviews


#241

I help run a wiki about movies called Moviepedia. There’s a user who has been posting videos of his reviews, and he added one for Tomb Raider on Tuesday, so I think I will point to it instead of trying to do my own review. The only thing I will add to it is a comparison between the two actresses.

Angela Jolie was the “pretty” Lara Croft. The training she puts herself through is esoteric stuff like horseback archery and having a custom-made battle robot to fight against…

Alicia Vikander is the “gritty” Lara Croft. She’s stayed away from her inheritance because the moment she takes it, she’s admitting her dad is dead, so any skills she’s learned are more street-level skills, like mixed martial arts.


#242

Not a movie review, but I do have to admit that the way Deadpool 2 is being marketed is still hitting all the right notes. This includes the new music video by Céline Dion called “Ashes” that includes Deadpool dancing in high heels, and then asking her to bring her performance down half-way to meet the level of the movie.


#243

Okay, I have to find this tonight…


#244

I enjoyed Super Troopers 2. It’s not a huge release like the Marvel movies, but it is one of those movies where I honestly feel like the cast had fun making it.


#245

I loved the first Super Troopers and want to see the second one. I also recently saw Infinity War, which I enjoyed immensely but holy crap, dat ending tho. A couple weeks before that I saw Ready Player One, which I also enjoyed despite it differing from the book quite a bit. The scenes they changed wouldn’t have translated well to film.


#246

This. So much this. This is what making movies should be about: a bunch of people who get on well who have a story to tell together. Good films are an organic process.

You can’t beat love with money (although Federal court may claim otherwise).


#247

Every so often, a “killer app” comes along that makes people want to buy a certain technology. In the early days of home computers, one of the first ones was VisiCalc. With it, you could make an adjustment and see immediately how that would affect other calculations. VisiCalc was overtaken by Lotus 1-2-3, but both gave people reasons to view home computers as a serious tool. Later on, the Infocom text adventures gave people reasons to buy computers just to play games, and Myst and The Seventh Guest gave people reasons to add CD-ROM drives onto them.

Ready Player One may be my killer app when it comes to an 4K UHD TV. I haven’t fallen into the trap of “new format, gotta get it now” like others do, but for this movie, I might.

I gave an overview of the novel a few months ago, but for this review, I’m not going to do many comparisons between the book and the movie because RPO is a very good example of how the former gets adapted into the latter. I think this story works better as a movie anyway.

The opening narration by Wade Watts sets the stage: the world’s a mess and “people stopped trying to fix problems and just tried to outlive them”. Cities have sections called “Stacks” where mobile homes are stacked on top of each other to maximize space. People escape into a virtual reality world called the OASIS. You can do anything you want there, and if you’ve got a full-body haptic immersion suit, a trip to a virtual hotel is just as realistic as if you went to one in the real world. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean?

People invest heavily in their OASIS avatars with their time and collecting coins from winning various games or defeating other players. There is some interchangeability between in-game money and real-world money like in the book where you can buy something online for a real-world pickup or delivery. A lot of people buy gaming gear so their avatars perform better, so if you lose everything and have to respawn back at level 1, it can be devistating enough to cause someone to attempt jumping out of a window.

James Halliday and Ogden Morrow built the OASIS. Halliday is the socially awkward tech genius who doesn’t like rules. When he dies fifteen years later, a pre-recorded video will is broadcast OASIS-wide, announcing his contest. Find three keys and the Easter egg he hid and you get all of his stock in his company (Gregarious Games) plus total control of the OASIS.

Five years later, Parzival, Wade’s avatar, is getting ready for another crack at the race, the first quest that no one’s been able to beat. This time, the famous Art3mis shows up, but despite her skill, his skill or his best friend Aech’s skill, the race is still too brutal to be beaten. She challenges his motivations for being a gunter (egg hunter), and that gives him the inspiration that lets him finally solve the first quest.

This is one of the places where RPO works better as a movie than a book. Instead of being written books, the “Halliday Journals” containing the details about all the things he was interested in that can help people solve his contest are represented as fully-interactive virtual exhibits. Fully searchable and if something was referenced like a video game or a meeting he took part in, those are included as well. Wade still uses a notebook for his offline research, though.

One of the movie trailers used the song “Pure Imagination” from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. RPO shares two elements from it: the quest that will be won by the person who appreciates it the most, and the people who want to win at all costs, brute-forcing their way through it. Nolan Sorento at Innovative Online Industries (IOI) is both the Henry Salt and the Veruca Salt of Willie Wonka. He’s amassed armies of “Ologists” who research everything Halliday did and “Sixers” who go through the OASIS to find it and are only identified by an employee number that begins with a six, as well as hiring a bounty hunter called i-ROk, but only he will claim the prize.

The rest of the movie is Wade’s journey of appreciating what Halliday built and to learn what is most important to Halliday and to himself. For Art3mis, it’s accepting who she is and taking down IOI so that no one else will have to die in indentured servitude, like her father did in one of the IOI’s Loyalty Centers. Just to show how far the movie pushed the “evil corporation” angle, there was also a proposal by Sorento that defined exactly how much ad space could be sold to player’s visual field before it induced seizures. Shades of the “Blipverts” from Max Headroom.

I’m going to put the brakes on here because I do want to address how a movie has to be different than a book. A book that has playing Pac-Man for two hours is perfectly fine. Trying to put that up on the screen? What were they going to do, the cliche of cutting to a clock with the minute hands advancing rapidly before cutting back to see Parzival win the game?

No. That would be boring to watch. Two of the quests were changed to things that do work better on screen, with action and excitement. Likewise, there were substitutions for some of the pop culture elements because rights couldn’t be obtained. But because Steven Spielberg was directing, he was able to get about 80% of what he asked for, and what was used is just as cool as what’s in the book.

I started off by calling this movie the killer app that might make me consider upgrading my TV. I know that I will be buying it the moment it comes out on Blu-ray, and I am going to be standing two feet away from the screen, using the frame advance button on the remote so I can look at the details very closely.

The book and the movie are about Easter eggs. The writers (author Ernest Cline and Zak Penn, who has written some of the Marvel/Fox movies) put in Easter eggs. Spielberg put in Easter eggs. The two special effects companies put in Easter eggs. There are things on screen that you will only be able to see once you’ve got it on home video. Ernest Cline says he doesn’t know all of what was put in there.

I want to know. I want to find them all. And I want to verify what I think I saw happen in one of the interactive exhibits. If I’m right, it’s very subtle and cool.

Ready Player One is still in theaters and will be out on home video this summer. Ernest Cline has already announced he’s working on a sequel for the book, and recently he stated that he’s trying to structure the next book so that it’s not only a sequel to the first one, but can be used as the basis for a sequel to the movie.

James Halliday saw the future and then built it in the form of the OASIS. I can’t wait to see what Ernest Cline’s future for this story will be.


#248

Yup…

Yup…

Yup…
Untitled

Apart from that, I’m interested in seeing the movie now. Not read the book, but then I kinda stopped reading for a while until earlier this year.


#249

The RP1 (at least the book) takes your examples and turns them up to 11, though… Not nice, cool urban-chic stacks of brightly colored containers, but literal frameworks to keep RVs in place vertically. They’re pretty rickety at best, and there’s a hint that given a century or two, the sci-fi trope of ‘techno archaeology’ as there’s lower layers of accreted half-collapsed structure will probably be in play.

Second Life is certainly an inspiration, but the main thing is the OASIS somehow grew to swallow up everything online. Like, it’s now the common interface for WOW, DOOM, and your online banking. Don’t ask how that works. I think there’s some hints that a lot of content is user-created, but it’s very much “The OASIS works because it’s needed for the plot for it to work.”

(An interesting counter-point I need to re-read is Charles Stross’ Halting State which is a break from his main series of horror/urban fantasy. In HS, there’s brokerages and such to make going between virtual worlds possible, but it’s clear that (for example) going from WoW to Doom generally involves a sort of buy & trade process to convert incompatible resources. I’m perhaps explaining it poorly, but Stross thought a bit about how the tech would logically go… And this is background for a major mystery based on the premise.)

I did enjoy RP1 (book) though, and expect I’ll find the movie amusing. $Wife might like it for the references but she tunes out for spaceships and such much the way I tune out for period dramas. (Which is, to say, we both occasionally cave. I got her watching GoT and Altered Carbon.)

I don’t mind the common complaint that RP1 is basically references strung along with a veneer of plot. I’m OK with that, because it’s well done at what it is. Maybe not high art, but certainly enjoyable. I did feel like the timeline was a little off:

The OASIS founders were, presumably, born in the 70s, right? They need to remember the 80s pretty well. So OASIS should be founding pretty soonish, which also means the near-collapse into dystopia should happen almost immediately. A lot of the tech pioneers doing stuff today barely remember the 80s…


#250

Here’s a link to a quick article about the Deadpool 2 video with the video. The first time I played the video, there was a Deadpool 2 ad in front of it that was about having similar standards. I like several of Céline’s songs, but she still has problems with not fully enunciating her words. From “That’s the Way It Is”: “Don’t surrender, 'cause you can win, in this thing called luh-huh-huh-huh” (love).


Back over to "Ready Player One":

In preparation for writing this review, I collected links to articles about the movie. Many of them were written by the group over at Fandom, the company behind the Wikia wikis I’m most often at. So here they are, split up into general info, Easter eggs, and differences between the book and the movie plus spoilers.

General info:

Easter eggs:

Adaptation differences and spoilers

Major spoilers:


#251

Correct. The book mentions Halliday growing up in the late 70s to mid 80s time period and sets him and Morrow up to be a sort of analog to Jobs and Wozniak.


#252

At the end of the movie, there’s a scene where Halliday as a boy is playing Gorf on a ColecoVision console and he’s about 8 or 10 at the time. (I think I remember the correct game and console.) So, yeah, we would have been born prior to 1975.

In Wade’s hideaway that’s in the movie, one of the items he has taped up on the walls is the article about “Is Halliday the next Jobs?” It’s one of the things I’m going to be reading once I can get the movie on Blu-ray, provided the resolution is high enough. If not, that’s why I said I was considering upgrading my TV.


#253

Heh. Must go and watch the old A-team and Knight Rider series, guaranteed to have squealing tyres on gravel roads :smile:


#254

No review for “Infinity War” yet?


#255

I may be able to do a review shortly, but from what I’ve read, this will be a pretty accurate indicator:
http://www.dorktower.com/2018/05/04/


#256

I don’t know if I’m going to go see it, but I thought I’d point out that David Tennant is starring in a movie called “Bad Samaritan”. He’s a very bad guy in that one, so it might be interesting for people who have only seen him playing good roles like “Doctor Who”.


#257

The roles I’ve seen him in have been 50/50 good guy/bad guy (Dr Who & What We Did on Our Holiday vs Jessica Jones and Harry Potter).
He’s actually pretty comfortable in both roles. Probably even more comfortable in a bad guy role though as Dr Who isn’t a completely good guy :slight_smile:


#258

He played the villain in season 1 of Jessica Jones and did a really good job.


#259

O read an article from someone involved in the production of Good Samaritan and they said he really weirded them out the way he could switch on and off while acting. Go from normal human being joking around to soulless monster in a blink.


#260

Here’s a mini-review until I’m ready to give a full review. It’s the “oh, crap, we could have been doing that” review.

No, that’s not the title of the movie. The movie is Avengers: Infinity War. But that’s what I think DC is saying to themselves right now.

DC is so far behind, it’s going to take them years to get anywhere close to where Marvel is right now. They went to the well too many times. “Oh, let’s make another Batman movie” and “Oh, let’s make another Superman movie”.

And then they have the handicap of their “Extended Universe”. They couldn’t copy Marvel’s path, so they came up with the idea that maybe the movies will be related, maybe they won’t. “We’re not going to pigeonhole our directors by forcing them to make a movie with characters from a single universe.”

The lack of focus has hurt them, and Infinity Wars proves it.