Ready Player One (Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 4-Jul-2018

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Featurette-The '80s: You're the Inspiration (5:38)
Featurette-Making Of-Game Changer: Cracking the Code (57:22)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Effects for a Brave New World (24:39)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Level Up: Sound for the Future (8:03)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-High Score: Endgame (10:04)
Featurette-Ernie & Tye's Excellent Adventure (12:00)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 139:57
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Steven Spielberg

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tye Sheridan
Olivia Cooke
Ben Mendelsohn
Lena Waithe
T.J. Miller
Simon Pegg
Mark Rylance
Philip Zhao
Win Morisaki
Hannah John-Kamen
Ralph Ineson
Susan Lynch
Clare Higgins
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Alan Silvestri

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

††† Steven Spielbergís first major action blockbuster in some time, Ready Player One reaffirms the filmmakerís status as one of modern cinemaís most reliable creators of big-screen spectacles. With Spielberg dedicating much of the last few years to historical dramas (Bridge of Spies, The Post), itís encouraging to see him switch gears to adapt Ernest Clineís best-selling 2011 novel of the same name. Imaginative and hugely entertaining, Ready Player One is a perfect for Spielbergís sensibilities, playing out like an homage to the maestroís old works (both as a producer and a director). Itís an exquisitely mounted action-adventure which joyously celebrates nostalgia and pop culture, peppered with a dizzying array of movie references and blockbuster iconography. Clineís novel took direct inspiration from Spielberg (even mentioning his name), which makes it all the more exciting to see the man direct this adaptation himself.

††† The world is a dreary, poor place in the year 2045, which leads citizens to immerse themselves in the freeware virtual reality universe known as the OASIS, where people can do anything, be anyone, and go anywhere. Prior to the death of OASIS co-founder James Halliday (Mark Rylance) in 2040, he masterminded an Easter egg hunt for total control over the game and his vast fortune, hiding three keys within the enormous digital fantasyland that are won through various challenges. In Ohio, orphaned teenager Wade (Tye Sheridan) lives with his aunt (Susan Lynch) in a makeshift tower of mobile homes known as the stacks, logging into the OASIS under the gamertag Parzival. Wade dreams of winning Hallidayís challenge, researching everything there is to know about the man and pouring through hundreds of hours of archival recordings for clues. Wade receives support in the game from pals Aech (Lena Waithe), Daito (Win Morisaki) and Sho (Philip Zhao), while the gang are soon joined by well-known player Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), whoís drawn to Wadeís enthusiasm and candour. However, their sudden success brings them to the attention of nefarious mega-corporation Innovative Online Industries (IOI), headed by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) who seeks to acquire the OASIS in order to turn it into a moneymaking, pay-for-play advertising machine, relying on a team of researchers as well as an army of gamers/slaves known as ďSixersĒ to solve the Easter egg hunt.

††† With a screenplay credited to Zak Penn (The Avengers) as well as Cline himself, Ready Player One takes substantial liberties with the source novel, representing a loose adaptation rather than a slavish page-to-screen translation. However, the film retains the novelís dark dystopian vision of the future, which draws incisive parallels with our world in 2018, adding power to the story. Little hyperbole is needed in the depiction of IOI, with Sorrento seeking to destroy something thatís precious to so many but he cannot appreciate - his team even calculates how many junk advertisements can fill a userís screen without triggering seizures. Indeed, such subtext makes Wadeís rebellion more relatable and potent. In addition, beyond the visual fireworks and head-turning cameos, Spielberg finds an emotional core in Halliday during the last act, with a simple but effective sequence which explores his backstory and reveals why he created the OASIS.

††† Furthermore, aside from a few expository lines that feel too on the nose, there is an appreciable spark of wit to the dialogue for the most part, making Ready Player One feel like more than just another witless blockbuster. Admittedly, the screenplay does make a big deal about the fact that Sorrento is a corporate scumbag without an appreciation for pop culture, and one might assume that his obedient army of Sixers will be defeated by Wade and his crew because they are real fanboys/fangirls who know a key secret that eludes IOI... But the movie simply climaxes with a run-of-the-mill big battle sequence, the outcome of which is dependant on fighting abilities and weapons. However, Wadeís pop culture knowledge does give him an edge during Hallidayís challenges, so this is not a huge deal. Nevertheless, itís not clear how apparently every player around the world seems to know advanced martial arts, or how they can control how high or long they wish to jump at any given time.

††† Clineís novel was well-known for its litany of pop culture references, and this trait carries over into Spielbergís big-screen adaptation. The team behind Ready Player One must have spent time and money aplenty to clear intellectual property rights, as there are pop culture references galore throughout the picture - on top of mining from the extensive selection of IPs owned by Warner Bros., Ready Player One also references Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Star Wars, Alien, Childís Play, John Hughes films, Japanese iconography, plus many more films, TV shows and even video games. A portion of the novel took place inside the film WarGames, but reportedly due to rights issues, this is changed for the big screen - instead, the characters venture into a 1980s horror film in a brilliant sequence that cannot be spoiled. Ultimately, the viewing experience of Ready Player One amounts to a vast visual treasure hunt for famous characters and vehicles - it may take years to unpack all the movieís hidden Easter eggs.

††† With Spielberg at the helm, Ready Player One is a sumptuous visual treat, making astute use of the reported $175 million budget. (A somewhat low figure given the quality of the production values). The world here feels lived-in and authentic, thanks to the superb production design and elaborate sets. Spielberg previously experimented with motion capture for 2011ís The Adventures of Tintin, which serves him well for the imaginative digital scenes set inside the OASIS. The tone is set relatively early with a mind-blowing vehicular race through the virtual streets of Manhattan, beset with obstacles ranging from wrecking balls to a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and even King Kong. The set-piece emanates a giddy sense of excitement and exhilaration, finding Spielberg taking full advantage of the possibilities of both a digital fantasyland and a virtual camera. Spielbergís touch throughout Ready Player One is valuable, with the filmmaker ensuring that the action sequences are fully comprehensible no matter the environment or scale. Meanwhile, the real-world sequences were shot by Spielbergís regular cinematographer Janusz Kamiński on 35mm film stock, creating a distinct aesthetic to separate it from the scenes inside the OASIS. Although an ostensibly small touch, itís appreciated to underscore the dreariness of the real world, while making everything look tangible - indeed, with a fine layer of film grain, digital effects often seamlessly integrate into the live-action footage. Moreover, despite a beefy 140-minute runtime, Spielberg keeps the picture light on its feet, maintaining a snappy pace as he works through the intricate narrative, creating an experience thatís ceaselessly entertaining.

††† Without regular composer John Williams, Ready Player Oneís flavoursome original score was engineered by the reliable Alan Silvestri (Avengers: Infinity War), and itís first-rate. Silvestriís compositions never seem generic, as the music constantly adds flavour and majesty. One beat even incorporates Max Steinerís recognisable theme from 1933ís King Kong. In addition, the movie is backed by a selection of retro tunes to further the vibe, from New Order to Van Halen and even a bit of Duran Duran. The thespian achievements of Ready Player One are not quite as noteworthy as the technical wizardry or the filmmaking acumen, but the acting is still effective right down the line. Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) makes a positive impression as Sorrento, capably pulling off the Big Bad Guy routine as well as can be expected. Relative newcomers Sheridan and Cooke are both convincing in every frame, which adds necessary credibility to the central romantic pairing. Even T.J. Miller shows up here as an OASIS bounty hunter who tries his hardest to be a badass. Simon Pegg is also a total pleasure as the co-creator of the OASIS, while Rylance - Spielbergís new secret weapon - brings humanity, heart and gravitas to the role of Halliday. Spielberg originally sought Gene Wilder for the role of Halliday, which would have held great significance given the storyís deliberate similarities to Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. However, Rylance is still superb.

††† Ready Player One culminates with a tremendous battle sequence which pits virtually every user in the OASIS against Sorrentoís army of Sixers, and the subsequent visual buffet of characters is truly something to behold. Luckily, Spielberg never loses control of the movie, and although there are some dark themes about the possibilities of our future, the resulting experience is fun as hell. Ultimately, while this is an undeniably terrific Spielbergian blockbuster, just how much you respond to Ready Player One may depend on your fondness for all things pop culture - for my money, it hits all the right geeky notes.

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Transfer Quality


††† No surprises here - arriving from Roadshow/Warner Bros., Ready Player One's AVC-encoded, 1080p Blu-ray presentation is noticeably compressed, with a total video bitrate that's just below 22 Mbps. However, at least the disc is nearly filled to capacity between the movie itself and the extras, leaving just 3GB of free space on this dual-layered BD-50 which is unsurprising given the movie's 140-minute running time and the two hours of accompanying video extras. A two-disc set with the extras on a separate disc would have been ideal to maximise the movie's Blu-ray presentation, but this is what we have. It's also admittedly better than I expected, considering the compression. Framed at the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the Blu-ray might prove fine for unfussy casual viewers since it's certainly watchable and it's hard to make such a visually stunning movie look bad, but videophiles will have some reservations - and compared to the superb 4K Blu-ray, this 1080p transfer is no match.

††† There are two distinct worlds to Ready Player One - the real world, which was shot on 35mm film, and the OASIS, which is entirely digital. Texturing throughout the Blu-ray is usually strongest on the digital characters, particularly in close-ups which reveal details on fabric and skin. A close-up of Parzival's face in his DeLorean right before his second attempt at the Manhattan race is beset with sublime textures. During the 35mm scenes, fine detail on skin is respectable and undeniably better than a DVD, but the format is nevertheless capable of better. Grain is thankfully retained when appropriate, with the presentation showing no sign of unnecessary digital tampering such as noise reduction or edge enhancement, and said grain is never distracting; it enhances the fine detail on display. Grain becomes more heavier during the sequence set inside a certain 1980s horror movie, but this is of course deliberate, and the grain looks fine as opposed to blocky. Put simply, although the broad strokes of the transfer are acceptable, the presentation lacks definitive refinement on the whole - it's adequately sharp but sometimes leaves room for improvement, and textures are not quite as tight as they could be with a superior encode. In addition, grain could stand to be finer and better resolved, while fine detail and object delineation struggles under lower light or when smoke is present.

††† In terms of colours, the palette on display is faithful to how I recall the movie looking at the cinema, with no sign of obvious revisionism. However, it can be difficult to watch this Standard Dynamic Range presentation when there's a 4K equivalent with outstanding added HDR which enhances the picture. Indeed, skin tones take on a somewhat pasty complexion at times here, while contrast is merely acceptable and image depth can be hit-and-miss. Still, when the transfer is on, it's really on, with nice colours and strong object delineation, particularly during the more noticeably colourful sets inside the OASIS. Additionally, despite the compression, I was fortunately unable to detect any black crush or macroblocking, nor does the transfer look in any way smeary. However, I did notice a few instances of banding from time to time, including at the dance club and other darker sequences with intricate lighting design. On the whole, the presentation looks only a couple notches above a Netflix stream, and could look better on 1080p Blu-ray with a more generous bitrate. Roadshow/Warner Bros. are still content to compress movies for standard Blu-ray ostensibly to sabotage it, in order to make the 4K Ultra HD counterpart look all the better. And it really does, but at least this standard Blu-ray is not a total loss.

††† A number of subtitle options are included. The English track is well-formatted and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


††† Like most Roadshow releases of Warner Bros. titles, Ready Player One debuts on Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos track that defaults to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix on non-Atmos set-ups. Also included is a completely redundant English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, which - as usual - is the default audio option when you start up the disc, so be sure to select Atmos from the menu. A BDInfo scan reveals that the audio is actually 16-bit as opposed to 24-bit. The same track is present on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. This could be a scanner error, however, because I could find no flaws or shortcomings with this mix. The movie sounded fantastic in the cinema with Atmos audio, and it translates to a demo-quality sound mix that excels in terms of dynamic range, clarity, subwoofer, and encoding. This is a wall-shaking Atmos track, and it boasts excellent prioritisation throughout - no matter how loud the action sequences are, you can always make out the dialogue thanks to astute mixing. The subwoofer, meanwhile, roars to life during the primary action set-pieces - from the car and motorbike engines during the race to explosions, as well as punches, kicks and weaponry. Nothing sounds hollow or lacking in impact, making for immersive viewing. Hell, I got so lost in the movie and didn't pay enough mind to the volume during the climax that I inadvertently woke up my housemate.

††† As to be expected from a lossless track, it sounds pristine and clear throughout, while the encoding itself is spotless - there is nothing in the way of pops, clicks, drop-outs or sync issues. At no point does the mix sound lacking, muffled or held back. The movie is also ideal fodder for showing off the capabilities of Atmos - although I only have a 7.1 set-up without overhead speakers, I was still blown away. Surround channels are consistently used throughout to ensure that the mix is immersive and all-encompassing, never sounding limited or compressed. Panning is effectively used when appropriate, most noticeably for vehicles passing. Meanwhile, when Parzival goes to Halliday's virtual archives, noticeable ambience emerges from the rear channels. During the shootout in the dance club, gunfire comes from all around, flaunting precise channel placement. It also sounds like drones are flying all around in certain scenes. Naturally, in addition to delivering ambience and certain sound effects, the rear channels are also frequently used for music (both Silvestri's score and the selection of classic songs). Warner Bros. have truly hit this one out of the park, and it's hard to imagine audiophiles have any complaints.

††† In addition to the English options, there's an Italian DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, an English descriptive track, and a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. I briefly sampled the English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track before remembering I had to switch to Atmos, and it was fine for what it is. It's noticeably more aggressive, but it's less layered than the Atmos mix. The ratings below reflect the Atmos track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


††† In terms of extras, the disc offers six featurettes of varying length. The featurettes combine for a total length of 117:49, which is impressive. I still wish there were additional special features like deleted scenes, trailers, and other odds and ends, but there is a lot to delve into here. And since Spielberg never does audio commentaries, I'll take this.

The '80s: You're the Inspiration (HD; 5:38)

††† This first featurette is primarily concerned with Cline's source novel. Cline speaks about his influences for the novel, while a selection of cast and crew talk about how they responded to it, and which parts of '80s pop culture they personally enjoyed the most. Spielberg also mentions that the book directly references his body of work, and he chose to exclude most of those references to avoid celebrating himself.

Game Changer: Cracking the Code (HD; 57:22)

††† This next featurette, which runs for close to an hour, is more multi-focused and covers ample content. The publication and reaction of Cline's book is covered, as well as the bidding war for the movie rights and the subsequent mission to adapt it into a workable screenplay (Zak Penn was initially hesitant). The next portion of this extra is devoted to the casting of Ready Player One. Spielberg talks about the audition process, while all of the young actors speak about becoming involved in the movie. The following segment covers the complex production design, examining the costumes and sets. Filming on the motion capture stages represents the de facto fourth segment of the featurette; the crew discuss Spielberg's working ethic and his enthusiasm towards mo-cap, while the actors talk about how daunting the process was. The final segment, logically, zeroes in on the live-action shooting. Topics include the lighting, cinematography, sets, locations and stunts. Sections of the stacks were actually built, which is one hell of an achievement. Amid the interviews, there is a tonne of behind-the-scenes footage, showing all stages of filming. We even get to see Spielberg's trademark toasts at the beginning and end of the shoot. Each of the five de facto segments in this featurette are given a separate chapter stop, though there are no title cards to distinguish them. In short, this is a terrific making-of documentary on its own, and it's an appreciable inclusion to the disc.

Effects for a Brave New World (HD; 24:39)

††† As the title implies, this third featurette concentrates on Ready Player One's extensive digital effects. Spielberg takes a back seat here, as the CGI artists take centre stage to discuss the daunting SFX requirements of the movie - not just the completely digital scenes set inside the OASIS, but also CGI in the real world, including essential set extensions. This extra also examines the avatar designs for several of the key characters, and there are scene-specific breakdowns as well - the big race and other major set-pieces are covered in pleasing detail.

Level Up: Sound for the Future (HD; 8:03)

††† The meticulous sound design is covered here. Sound designers Gary Rydstrom and Kyrsten Mate take centre stage to discuss what was required for the project, going over the recreations of certain sounds (such as for the Back to the Future DeLorean, and Ripley's pulse rifle from Aliens) to the deliberately aggressive-sounding drones, and more. Sound design rarely gets its due in Blu-ray special features, making this segment all the more appreciable.

High Score: Endgame (HD; 10:04)

††† A featurette on Silvestri's original score. Spielberg explains that John Williams was busy working on The Post, and he recruited Silvestri based on his work on several Robert Zemeckis-directed movies that Spielberg produced. Naturally, there is a fair bit of recording studio footage to behold here, intercut with interviews with Spielberg, Silvestri, and more. Cline even visits the recording studio and enjoys meeting Silvestri. This extra ends with a coda for the disc's making-of documentary, as well as credits. Not surprisingly, veteran documentarian Laurent Bouzereau was responsible for producing these extras.

Ernie & Tye's Excellent Adventure (HD; 12:00)

††† This final extra sees Cline and Sheridan sit down to further discuss the experience as a whole. Cline goes over the book once more, and describes his reaction when he found out Spielberg was directing the movie. Sheridan has a funny anecdote about the first time he was directed by Spielberg, before principal photography had even commenced proper. In addition, Sheridan tests Cline's movie knowledge by showing him various movie stills and behind-the-scenes images, and asks him to guess the production/person. This is a fun way to test your own knowledge. We also get a look at Cline's DeLorean, and there's a brief mention of the sequel novel.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † Supplements are identical on regular Blu-ray editions worldwide. However, in America there is a Target exclusive with a bonus disc, which would make it the winner. This review will be updated with relevant details about the Target exclusive extras when a breakdown is available.


††† Ready Player One is an irresistible celebration of pop culture and all things '80s, engineered by one of the greatest filmmakers of the modern age. It's also an exhilarating blockbuster, and one hell of a visual treat.

††† Roadshow's Blu-ray features a very good but visibly compressed 1080p presentation, though the Atmos track is excellent. Throw in two hours of high quality behind-the-scenes featurettes which should please most everyone, and this one comes highly recommended, though the 4K disc is the preferred option.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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