REVIEW: Ready Player One

Ready Player One, is a movie based on a book of the same name, by Ernest Cline. The story takes place in 2045 where everyone spends most of their time in the virtual reality world known as the Oasis. 5 years ago, the creator of the Oasis died and inside his virtual reality he hid an Easter egg.; and whoever found that egg would win the rights to the Oasis and the sizeable fortune that he left behind. The movie focuses on Wade Watts and his search for the egg against large odds.

I was cautiously optimistic that this movie would be able to follow in the book’s footsteps (I very much enjoyed the book). With Spielberg getting back to his roots of directing fun popcorn flicks and reading about all the IP that they had gotten the rights to, I thought that it was very much a possibility. My expectations were far from exceeded.

I understood going in that it was completely impossible for them to capture the same story as the book in all its detail; but I was disappointed with where they cut elements from. The movie rushed the relationships of many of the main characters. We briefly saw an empathetic side to both Wade and Art3mis, but their backgrounds were fairly sparse; as was the basis for the relationship they began to form. Aech, one of the best characters from the book, didn’t have any depth, which sucked a lot of the excitement out of her big reveal in person. Dato and Shoto had no background at all, and yet we were still supposed to root for them and their plight. Unfortunately for the story, most of these main characters were very undeveloped and their relationships felt rushed and shallow; which made caring about them and the events a lot more difficult.

Furthermore, the movie takes a lot away from the hunt for the egg. In the movie, the challenges aren’t terribly difficult and it doesn’t seem very realistic that no progress had been made in the hunt in over 5 years, with puzzles that were so easy to solve. In contrast, the book spends a ton of time in this part of the story and shows the immense difficulty of the hunt; even for people as experienced and as well-studied as Parzival. The hunt in the movie seemed more elementary and really lowered the stakes in the eyes of the audience.

Where I think this movie succeeds is in its ability to be a movie accessible to many. Where the book was very niche and for a very specific kind of geek (me in a lot of ways) the movie does a good job of making it more mainstream. The references are toned down and the plot doesn’t rely on having knowledge of these pop culture references as much as the book does.

All in all, I think that my default response to people who have seen this movie would be “read the book”. If you liked the movie, then you would love the book; and if you didn’t like the movie (especially if that was because you felt it was thin in some parts) then there is a very good chance you would like the book as well. The exposition and world-building are necessary for a movie like this, but in the end it took time away from some of the best elements of the story.

PREVIEW: Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a movie that it based on the book of the same name by Ernest Cline. The story takes place in 2045 where people spend most of their time in a virtual world known as the OASIS. When the creator of this virtual reality dies, a video is released that challenges all OASIS users to try to find an Easter Egg that he has hidden within it; the finder of which will get all of his fortune. But, that was 5 years ago.

If you are interested at all in the 1980’s or just nerdy pop culture in general, then this movie is a must see. The book was one of my favorites of all time and I am hoping that this film can live up to it. It being in Spielberg’s hands makes me somewhat optimistic, as he directed a lot of the movies that this story revolves around.

Ready Player One comes out on March 29 to most theaters in Ann Arbor.

REVIEW: Black Panther

Black Panther is the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the fictional African country of Wakanda to rule as their new leader. Wakanda is very much separated from the rest of the world and although it is the home the most advanced technology, it is still unknown to anyone outside the country. The Black Panther soon has his new throne challenged and he must face a formidable enemy in order to save his country and their way of life.

The strength of Black Panther is in its characters. Throughout the whole movie there isn’t a single weak character. T’Challa is strong, likeable, and has the ideal characteristics of a leader. The supporting cast, from T’Challa’s genius sister (maybe the new smartest person in the MCU) to his badass posse of women warriors, is so good that they almost outshine him in this movie. Killmonger, the villain in the movie, has one of the most empathetic stories and goals of any villains we have seen in this universe before. His drive and mission are so easy to get behind that it makes his struggle with T’Challa much more high stakes. This makes him incredibly powerful as a villain and makes the movie much more stressful.

Black Panther is also successful in breaking the script from the typical Marvel superhero movie. Now that we are in phase 3 of this series of films in the MCU, we have all gotten a little use to how they introduce new heroes and the struggles they face. This movie was incredibly unique in this sense and didn’t just follow the pattern that was lined up in the movies preceding it. From its world building and villain, to the rap beats and thematic soundtrack, this movie separates itself from the rest of the movies in the MCU.

In my opinion, this is the best first movie for a superhero in this series of Marvel films and is a must-see.

REVIEW: The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist is more than just a good movie about a bad movie, it is a story about trying to fulfill your dreams in anyway you can. The movie chronicles the making of The Room, dubbed by many as the best terrible movie; and in many ways that holds up. There have been plenty of bad movies over the years but none have stayed in the theaters for 14 years and have such a large cult following like The Room.

This movie is based on the book of the same name, by Greg Sestero. The movie focuses on him (Dave Franco) and his friend, Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), the director of The Room, and the journey that they went through to make The Room. Along the way the movie explores their friendship and the mystery that is Tommy Wiseau.

The performances by all the actors involved in this movie were spectacular. The Franco brothers, especially James, played their roles very convincingly and very accurate. On top of this the smaller parts with Seth Rogan, Josh Hutcherson, and Zac Efron make up some of the most hilarious parts of the movie – which is already very funny throughout. However, what stood out to me wasn’t just the comedic aspect, but the story of Tommy and his friendship with Greg. It tells a story about trying to make it in a cut throat industry and them adapting and doing it their own way. We see Tommy’s sympathetic side come out of his mysteriously unique personality, and it dives into what it is like to follow your dreams even when it happens in a way that you may not have thought. In the end, The Disaster Artist, is a story of uncommon friendship and passion.

You will walk away with not only questions about who Tommy Wiseau is, but also how this unbelievable story can be true. Although, it is important to note that Tommy himself says that it is 99.9% accurate, and the .1% that is wrong was the lighting (but that might just be due to the sunglasses he always wears).

I think that this movie was excellent, and can definitely be seen even if you haven’t watched The Room, as I hadn’t. It is currently showing State Theater and tickets can be purchase for $8 with a student ID.

REVIEW: The LEGO Batman Movie

The LEGO Batman Movie follows Batman (voiced by Will Arnett) as he battles the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) trying to take over Gotham City. In order to do so, however, Bruce Wayne must learn to work as a team, raise his newly adopted son (Michael Cera), and face his own inside fears. The movie is a hilarious success and proves that the last Lego Movie is not a stand alone great, but that the creators really know how to make these movies well.

The movie is largely successful for its pace. Past the inherent silliness of a movie made about Legos, The LEGO Batman Movie is actually a really good comedy action movie. It starts brilliantly;  and the first half hour is full of laughs and constant activity that engage the audience wholly. Instead of this being followed by slow, dragged out parts like most action films, this movie doesn’t seem to falter for even a second. It keeps the fast paced action and the humor keeps up throughout.

You don’t have to be a kid, a Lego fan, or even a Batman fan to enjoy this movie. Although this movie alludes to previous Batman films, the jokes will still resonate with non-fans. The movie has its fair share of butt and fart jokes, but it is largely dominated by clever well thought out humor that lands with everyone in the audience. It is so funny that you will forget you are watching basically a 2-hour ad for Legos.

The LEGO Batman movie is one of the funnier movies I have seen recently and I believe it is the best Batman movie in years.

PREVIEW: The Lego Batman Movie

Anyone who saw The Lego Movie knows that the new Lego movies are not just for kids. They are filled with awesome jokes and cameos from many famous actors. The Lego Batman Movie follows batman (voiced by Will Arnett) as he struggles to fight the Joker’s takeover of Gotham city and raise his newly adopted son. If it follows suit of the first Lego movie, then I think it will be a very funny success. The movie is showing all around Ann Arbor theaters and I believe it will be an enjoyable see to give you a break from midterms.