Monthly Archives: March 2018

Exit player one

The latest Steven Spielberg film is out, Ready Player One. It has had some very good reviews.

It’s not the kind of film I would normally go to see, but several people said I should, plus it was on in IMAX 3D at the newly refurbished local Odeon.

OK, so I am going to be the negative reviewer of this piece of work.

In case you don’t know, the plot is simple: a computer genius, think Steve Jobs, dies, but has left three keys in a virtual world. The person who finds the keys gets trillions of dollars and control of all the virtual world. So, some kids go off to find the keys…

Most of it is cgi stuff. The virtual human characters still suffer from the usual problems: gestures are stiff and rather expansive and unsubtle, walking and jumping looks unrealistic (I don’t know, maybe by design) and the mouth movements don’t match with what’s being said (and since much of the dialogue is unclear, it is often hard to follow what is being said). It’s TRON syndrome.

CGI is best doing explosions, chases and fights, so there’s plenty of this. Interminable amounts of explosions and fights.

There’s a baddie. You know he is a baddie because he wears black and snarls a lot. Oh, and his avatar has slicked back black hair, surely a sign of a nasty person. Much of the live stuff is filmed in Birmingham (UK), which looks suitably wet, dirty and miserable.

The acting is pretty nothing. Mark Rylance, who can be excellent, seems to have taken something.

The whole film is lacking in lightness and humour, but that’s true for just about any Spielberg film, I think. I didn’t fall asleep, but I did get a headache from the terrible music.

Who’s nose

When I got my first Kindle and was looking for books, there were some that were free. One was L Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. Another, Pinocchio, written in 1883 by Carlo Collodi as a social commentary, though I guess that aspect is lost now..

If you don’t know the story (shame) then it’s about a little wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy for her father/creator. He has many adventures on his journey through, er, life.

Most people know that his nose grows when he lies. But the boy is a real hero.

The story is rather different in tone from the Disney film, which I do admire for the craft on display, and at least one song which must be one of the most wonderful and thrilling interpretations of any song ever. While Pinocchio is manipulated and exploited in the film, in the book people are downright nasty to him, constantly blaming him for the death of his creator/father. It is definitely worth reading, but not to children. Incidentally, the Wizard of Oz book also confounded me with its tone. Again, not like the film.

Spielberg did a version called AI: Artificial Intelligence that again has its moments but is ultimately saccharin stuff.

So now the National Theatre has a production which is a kind of hybrid of the book and the film. It’s darker in tone than the film, but retains many of the film’s songs. In a way, it’s a little bit jarring. Personally, I would love the songs to have been ditched, but that’s just me… They are very over-used. I suppose the NT had to pay plenty to Disney for their use.

The lead character is played by a human, the humans played by puppets, as you can see. It kind of works, but seems a cliche these days (the puppet aspect).

There are some wonderful moments, and some draggy and rather heavy bits, which is odd for a production which is relatively short in running time. But if you have slightly older kids, they say 8+, then there are still tickets.