Ready Player One (3D Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 4-Jul-2018

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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
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Steven Spielberg
Studio
Distributor

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 $34.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
German DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Hungarian 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
French
German
Spanish
Portuguese
Arabic
Bulgarian
Croatian
Czech
Estonian
Greek
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Latvian
Lithuanian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Russian
Slovenian
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

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

Video

††† Ready Player One is the latest big-budget blockbuster extravaganza to debut in a variety of home media flavours: 2D Blu-ray, 4K Blu-ray, and this 3D Blu-ray. Roadshow thankfully make use of a dual-layered BD-50 to present this 140-minute motion picture in three dimensions, and to their credit, the disc is virtually full to capacity - only mere megabytes are left over. Interestingly, too, the primary "eye" on this disc carries a higher bitrate than the 2D Blu-ray, coming in at just under 24 Mbps, while the bitrate for the 3D layer comes in at slightly under 10 Mbps. As with virtually every recent live-action 3D movie, Ready Player One was only shot in 2D before being converted in post-production, though it is likely that the computer-generated OASIS scenes were rendered natively in 3D. It's clear that the creative team behind Ready Player One considered the 3D conversion while composing shots (both practically and digitally), particularly during the OASIS sequences which are consistently eye-popping. Presented in three dimensions via the MPEG-4 MVC video codec, and framed at 2.40:1, this presentation is a real winner that will please 3D enthusiasts, especially considering the dire current state of 3D and dwindling support from television manufacturers.

††† The live-action scenes, shot with 35mm film, deliberately do not take full advantage of the 3D, as the effects are rather subtle instead. Reminiscent of Blade Runner 2049, the conversion takes a "realistic" approach, adding minor depth to make it look as if we're peering out of a window; these scenes do not go for the type of insane depth seen throughout 3D Marvel titles. Nevertheless, there is still appreciable object delineation; virtual monitors look to be at a different depth than the people peering at them, the Sixer war room has depth, and the conversion was performed well, with no "pop up book" effect. When the movie switches over to the OASIS, oh boy do the 3D effects pick up. Starting with the outstanding initial shot which moves into Wade's headset and introduces the OASIS with its seemingly infinite environments, image depth increases dramatically, as if we have just stepped inside of a 3D video game. When Halliday introduces his challenge and the three keys appear in front of him, it looks as if the keys are emerging from the TV screen while the environment behind him appears infinite. The initial race looks stunning in three dimensions; lines of cars seem to stretch back into the television, the racetrack seems to stretch out in front of you, and each individual visual element appears at its own depth. Even the thinnest hairs, such as those on Halliday's head, or loose threads on Cooke's jumper, are intricately isolated. When Parzival and Art3mis make use of the floating dance floor at the Distracted Globe, the sense of 3D is truly dazzling. And, of course, the climax looks magnificent in three dimensions; the landscape seems to stretch back for miles, the hundreds of characters appear at different depths, and you can even get an appreciable sense of depth looking at Halliday's keyholes.

† † Outside of the outstanding 3D conversion, the video transfer itself looks extremely good. Of course, colours are dimmed to a certain extent due to the 3D glasses, and the presentation lacks the pop that High Dynamic Range can afford, but the transfer is nevertheless impressive in terms of textures, fine detail, highlights and colours. Just look at the T-Rex during the race; its scaly skin is insanely detailed, even in the frenetic long shots. Or King Kong, whose every hair is discernible. Close-ups of characters both in the OASIS and in the real-world reveal precise textures on skin, as well. The real-world scenes were shot with 35mm film, and the film grain is noticeably subtler compared to the 2D and 4K transfers, without any evidence of egregious noise reduction. Indeed, "grain haters" should appreciate this one. Colours, meanwhile, generally impress - particularly during the OASIS scenes, which are designed to look vibrant and colourful. However, the real-world scenes do look a touch soft on the whole, lacking the razor-sharp precision of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Other scenes look slightly murky and lack some pop, blacks are sometimes compromised, and highlights are better retained on the 4K disc, but these are minor knocks against an otherwise top-flight presentation from Roadshow. The encoding also never gives rise to any bothersome anomalies or artefacts; no crosstalk, ghosting, ringing, banding, aliasing, or anything else. This is a more impressive and better-encoded image than its 2D counterpart.

††† 3D enthusiasts may find themselves wanting more enhanced 3D effects during the real-world sequences, but that would take away from the sheer awe of the initial OASIS reveal. And you can take comfort in knowing that the movie looks precisely as intended, and that the comparatively subtler 3D effects in the real-world is a creative decision, rather than an encoding flaw. At the end of the day, this is an excellent 3D disc which demonstrates the strengths of the format, and any enthusiast should definitely consider adding this one to their collection. I no longer have much need for the 1080p 2D Blu-ray; my 3D and 4K discs for Ready Player One will be played a lot in my household. Not many people will be prepared to buy both 3D and 4K - I will say that the 4K is better, but the 3D is excellent as well. I do not regret owning both.

††† There are a number of subtitle options. The English track looked fine to my eyes, though of course it does take some adjusting to read subtitles on a 3D display.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† In keeping with the irritating recent trend by Warner Bros./Roadshow, the 3D Blu-ray does not offer a Dolby Atmos mix; the audio is instead downgraded to a 16-bit DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. As per usual, audiophiles and Atmos fanatics will cry foul, and it is disappointing that the 3D presentation comes with the price of an inferior audio track, but it should still play fine to those with 5.1 systems or anything lower. In fact, it sounded excellent on my 7.1 set-up, boasting wonderful panning effects, appreciable dynamic range, and thunderous aggression when necessary. The race through the city showcases the strengths of the mix; sounds come from every speaker, panning effects are used as cars drive past, and the subwoofer is insane, which prompted me to turn the volume down in fear of noise complaints from neighbours. Throughout the climax, there's enough surround activity to create an appreciable illusion that we're in the middle of the battle, with explosions, gunshots and other mayhem coming from all channels. A particular explosion inside the OASIS towards the end of the movie is deafening.

††† I never had any issues with prioritisation, as dialogue is consistently easy to hear and comprehend, even during the louder set-pieces. Thankfully, too, I never detected any encoding shortcomings or compression artefacts; no pops, clicks or drop-outs, nor are there any sync issues. Furthermore, despite the 16-bit encoding, I never felt as if the audio sounded compromised - the dynamic range does suffer, granted, but the audio is otherwise crisp and loud. Taken on its own merits, this 5.1 track gets the job done well enough. (It's also still better than most of Disney's latest offerings with botched audio.) It's only when compared to the Atmos track that it looks inferior; the loss of channels is disappointing, and the Atmos track is more precise and nuanced. Why oh why do Roadshow/Warner Bros. continue this behaviour?

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

††† The accompanying 2D disc in this two-disc set 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.

† † 3D discs worldwide offer the same specs at the time of writing. No Atmos audio is available in any foreign territories. And the Target exlusive bonus disc in the United States does not offer 3D. Buy local.

Summary

††† 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.

††† The 3D Blu-ray from Roadshow is a pure delight. The 3D presentation dazzles throughout, taking full advantage of the format's possibilities. Although the downgraded 5.1 audio track is slightly disappointing, the presentation is still easy to watch and enjoy. The accompanying 2D Blu-ray, meanwhile, contains nearly two hours of high quality behind-the-scenes extras. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, September 15, 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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