Viewed – 11 April 2018 Cinema
I went into this not knowing much. However, for as long as I can recall I’ve been a huge fan of much celebrated director Steven Spielberg, and usually seek out his movies when they land. Yet this particular effort seemed like something different whilst at the same time an accuse for Spielberg to throw his hat back into a field he’d pretty much pioneered. Did he still have it to deliver blockbuster spectacle once again?
Set in 2046, a society lives in the slums governed by rich corporations who run everything whilst the general public turn to a virtual world for escape. One such player, Wade Watts (Ty Sheridan) finds escape from his real world problems by entering the ‘oasis’ a vast online game where the only limitations are one’s imagination, where all your favourite pop-culture, video-game and movie obsessions run wild. Following the death of the world’s creator, the reclusive, eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance) it transpires he has left an ‘easter egg’ and if a player can find it, he will own it all, worth trillions. Of course a shady government organization lust for such power also, and so a race to unlock the game world’s secrets is on.
This was an interesting cinema experience. The theatre I was in was fairly bare considering the movie had not long been released, and it got me thinking well, this isn’t a sequel, a remake or a comic book movie. That’s a shame that cinema going has become that marginalized, but I guess it’s inevitable and probably why Valerian bombed at the box office. I predict a similar fate for this, which would be disappointing because this was refreshing, imaginative and most importantly – a barrel load of fun. At it’s core it’s kind of a cross between Wreck It Ralph and The Matrix, with a sprinkling of Tron for good measure. The writer of the book it’s based on clearly had many influences, and the wealth of references, cameos and nods to movies, games and music is exhausting. Initially I had trouble getting into the movie – it’s a bit of an avalanche of information and visual excess … but once I adjusted I was along for the ride. The rag-tag team of ‘resistance’ who team up to beat the game are a likable bunch especially Bates Motels’ Olivia Cooke. Ben Mendelsohn also makes for a suitable boo-hiss villain and I got a kick out of each character’s video-game alter egos (think avatars from games like World of Warcraft or Destiny). This is a movie that plays to the geek in us, it seemed to work for me as a gamer and a movie geek but I can see it possibly dividing audiences as a result – and well, all that recognisable imagery doesn’t exactly serve the story. However with amazing sequences like a section in the Overlook Hotel from The Shining and lots of spectacle and fun characters, I had a great time with this.
Tired of superhero movies? See this. Want something different? See this. Love geek culture? See this. Simple as that.
Verdict: 4 /5