I knew going into Ready Player One that there would be a never-ending parade of nostalgia geared toward people around my age. What I didn’t realize was that it was the sole focus of the movie. While that does sound like something that COULD work, my conclusion is that it doesn’t.
And to be clear, I’m reviewing the movie only. I’ve never read the book, nor do I think that should be required for seeing the movie.
I thoroughly reject the argument that you won’t get this movie if you are not a gamer. I wouldn’t call myself hardcore, but I’ve been playing video games for nearly my entire life. The fact that the movie’s plot is covered in a video game wrapper doesn’t matter. Nearly all action adventure movies conform to The Hero’s Journey just as this movie does – there’s not really anything new happening here in terms of structure. Most adventure stories have a down-on-their-luck hero (Marty McFly, Billy Peltzer, Luke Skywalker, etc) with a love interest, then he overcomes threshold guardians to ultimately beat the bad guy and win the day. That’s just how these movies work.
The real problem with Ready Player One is the lack of world building backstory (I don’t understand how a corn syrup drought created a dystopia and so on) and a cast of characters that just don’t compel. I wasn’t actively rooting for the protagonists to fail, but I wasn’t excited when they won, either. At a late point in the movie, I just wanted it to be over because the end was so telegraphed and obvious that I was starting to get bored.
In concept, I would think I’d like Ready Player One. The movie is all about 70’s, 80’s and 90’s pop culture (which is very much my bag), but it wasn’t charming. Instead, it’s beyond forced. Maybe that’s the problem – references work when they’re subtle, not when they’re the sole focus and reason something exists. That’s when something stops becoming a reference and just becomes the plot. Yeah, I saw the campaign poster from Back to the Future in the background, big deal. That didn’t make the movie better. Yes, I see the Iron Giant too, except this film seems to be missing the entire point of its to titular character and if you were going to ignore the moral, then why leave out the giant gun that lives inside his chest? When the good guy army was rushing toward the bad guy, I think I saw a Battletoad in there, but honestly, everything image is so saturated with characters and things that I feel like the movie is really just an advertisement for the Blu-ray. By this I mean the movie is intentionally visually dense to the point where the only way to really see all of its bloat is to watch it at home while continuously pausing it and examining each frame. I guarantee you that when this movie hits the aftermarket, you’ll see every single website in existence write an article entitled All The Stuff You Missed in Ready Player One. It’s coming, I promise you – if they’re not here already.
The thing is, I didn’t hate the movie. I wasn’t particularly bored or frustrated with any one scene, it’s just that the movie as a whole is bland. I didn’t really feel anything while watching this movie. At all. I appreciated all the work the zillions of digital animators did on this movie and I think that if Steven Spielberg didn’t direct it would be a horrible mess, but that’s about the only positives I can rattle off.
When when it comes down to it, Ready Player One is an underdeveloped movie that tries to make up for its own shortcomings with nostalgia and flashy visuals, but it’s just not enough. The only reason to see this in the theater is because every image is so cluttered that if you care about seeing every single thing, the bigger it is the better.
Sega does what Ninten-Don’t (no, not stay a viable video game console company) – they use euphemistic language in their ads. They’re not the first to make the “you’re playing with your joystick” joke, but they were probably the last because now we have the Playstation Motion Controller, and it doesn’t get any more obvious than that.
On Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 7:30 PM, we saw the much-anticipated Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (screening dates) with a full house of raging Nerd Heads. The flick has been in production for several years now, so expectations were high and enthusiasm boundless as the lights dimmed and the picture popped onto the screen at the Sharp Theater. Would the fans get what they want, or would they go home disappointed? I was predicting the former, but you never can tell how these independent productions are going to turn out. Ready for anything, I settled into my balcony seat and watched the movie roll. Read the rest of this entry
The game over screen for Friday the 13th is by far the best of it’s kind. This is a terrible NES game, but they got this one bit right.
YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS ARE DEAD.
That is classic right there. None of that gentle "game over, continue" sort of stuff – this game’s all, "Ya dead, biatch! So are your friends! Now I’m gonna go to your house and burn it to ground after I eat all the food in your fridge and pee on your carpets! I’m gonna push your car into a lake after I fill the gas tank with sugar and drop a number two in the trunk! I’m gonna fill out a credit card application in your name, get the card and run up a bunch of debt that I will NEVER pay off! Kiss your FICO score goodbye, jack-hole!"
Anyway, here it is in it’s original 8 bit glory:
I like YouTube – sometimes it giveth, sometimes it taketh away. I’d say today’s entry of It Came From YouTube is a good example of both.
This is exactly the sort of stuff that makes YouTube great – well produced niche content that’s a ton of fun. YouTuber FamilyJules7X clearly has the skills, passion and chops to crank out metal inspired covers from such classic video games as Tetris, Zelda, Super Mario Brothers and several others. This is my jam jar.
And then there’s this.
By my count, there are six different Angry Birds video games. From the original, variations on the original to licensed properties, Angry Birds has enough titles to shake a stick at. (Whatever that means.) But, as I am fond of saying, it doesn’t end there. Read the rest of this entry
Halo 4 is awesome, but not perfect – at least that’s what i heard from the video game website IGN. Not having played Halo since I got stuck in that hanger in Halo 2, I’m a little out of my element, but I did read the reviews, and the reviews are impressive.
But take a close look at that score – 9.8. That’s a precise score, huh? I’m not saying that video games aren’t serious business and don’t deserve a specific number grade, because they do, but think about this for a second. We can deduce that since the game is receiving the Editors’ Choice seal of approval that their system’s perfect score is a 10, but the game didn’t merit a perfect score. 10 would be perfect, but Halo 4 got a 9.8. Why not a 10? What merits a two tenths deduction? That is bizarre. Was it the packaging? Is the disc too shiny? Did Master Chief not stick the landing? If anyone knows, hit me up. Or, if you have copy of IGN’s rubric, that’s even better!
While James Rolfe’s career continues to bring him more opportunities the longer he persists, I still feel that he could use a shout out, and so, it’s time for Attention Must Be Paid, James Rolfe edition… or, in internet vernacular, AMBP: AVGN.
While wandering around the internet, I came across a video on YouTube that delighted me: the series was called, You Know What’s Bullshit? and the episode was called, Temperature. This, I am sure, is one of the greatest things to ever grace the YouTube servers.
“Potatoes are assholes; they’re so unpredictable.”
Has a better sentence ever been uttered? I think not. Potatoes are, in fact, assholes! (Sure, they’re not on corn‘s level, but what vegetable is?)
The Bullshit series is a work of art in itself, from part 1 to part 13. I was stunned with the quality of the writing, camera work and most of all, the superior editing. YouTube has so much fatty waste clogging up its mighty heart that its easy to get stuck in the muck of loathsome dreck, a sea of unedited video with awful pop music poorly mixed in the background, and the Bullshit series was a tremendous breath of fresh air; people really were putting quality video on YouTube. Who knew?
I soon found that I had engorged on the entire “You Know What’s Bullshit?” series (I’m also a big fan of the DVD sticker and DVD collection episodes) and yearned for more. The discovery that there was more ‘bullshit’ to be experienced beyond Temperature was a revelation in itself, but I had no idea what loomed just over the horizon.
The first episode I saw of The Angry Video Game Nerd was his review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Nintendo Entertainment System. TMNT for the NES is the worst kind of video game; it gave us the opportunity to interact as our favorite genetically altered reptiles, and in the early levels, you see so much promise. Sure, the controls aren’t great, but it’s a fun game… at first. Then it starts to suck, and that’s where James Rolfe comes in.
It sucking fucks, it fucking sucks, it fucking blows, it’s a piece of shit… and I don’t like it.
Agreed, sir. Agreed.
If you were a gamer in the mid to late eighties and onward, then you know how revolutionary Nintendo was for those of us who were used to the classic Atari 2600 (or pretenders like the ColeocoVision), as was the Super Nintendo (I know this is an old debate, but Sega sucked. The Sega Master System and Sega Genesis were inferior pieces of hardware; we can debate game libraries till the cows come home, but when games came out on both systems, Nintendo wins hands down every time… hence Sega makes games for Nintendo now? Figure that one out!), the Nintendo 64, and so on. (I’ll take another quick second to say that for the most part, the Playstation is a load-time-cut-scene-infused paperweight.) That being said, Nintendo had it’s fair share of bad games, whether licensed or not, and The Angry Video Game Nerd is just the man to exorcise the video game demons that haunt our souls from both yesterday, today and tomorrow.
I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Mr. Rolfe’s other efforts, which can be found on his website at Cinemassacre.com. His other series, such as Board James, a partly informational series on Board Games, a convention I assume is going the way of the Polar Bear (his horror movie-esque short on Mr. Bucket is not to missed) or the annual Cinemassacre.com’s Monster Madness, which brings an assortment of monster movies to the forefront every Halloween, and I think any movie fan would enjoy, even if you’re like me and don’t spend much time watching horror, slasher or monster movies.
James Rolfe has taken the comedic review to strange and hilarious new places. Sure, it can be juvenile, profane and even downright disgusting, but that’s what makes it fun. In fact, I particularly enjoyed a long diatribe about how bad a game was involving excrement and… well, other things, after which The Nerd said, “That was foul; I apologize.” It’s over the top, it’s silly and it’s great. It’s also self aware, which may be the most important reason it works so well. The guy does a brilliant job connecting with the audience… maybe its just me, because Mr. Rolfe and I are the same age and from the same part of the country and come from a shared experience, but I think there is something for everyone in Mr. Rolfe’s catalog. Take a look, you’re bound to find something you like.
Unless you can’t tolerate profanity and vulgarity. Then you’re shit out of luck.