Spielberg remains to this day one of the most misunderstood film-makers of his generation. He has been labeled both a peddler of popcorn and a saccharine manipulator (Those who say the latter have clearly forgotten Alex Kitner erupting in a geyser of blood in Jaws, exploding Nazi heads, the horrors of the Holocaust in Schindler and the river of corpses in War of the Worlds).
There are two Spielbergs. There’s the man who makes somber, academy award winning dramas (Empire of the Sun, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, War Horse, Lincoln etc). Then’s there’s the 10 year old playing in the sand box (The Indy films, Hook, Jurassic Park, Tintin etc). What I enjoy most about the ‘Berg, is how he can zigzag between disparate genres. But after a stretch of SF films (A.I, Minority Report and War of the Worlds), I was looking forward to a return to the free wheeling fun with Crystal Skull. It turned out to be an uncharacteristic dud that despite the boffo box office, proved to be deeply unpopular with fans of the series.
This made me cautious about Ready Player One. Had Spielberg lost his touch? I was wrong. This may be one of the most visually amazing and effortlessly fun films I’ve seen in a long time. I have not read Ernest Cline’s novel, so fans of the popular novel may have issues, but I rarely read the books before seeing the film.
The cast are great. Tye Sheridan are Olivia Cooke are the standouts. Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg are fun in supporting roles. Alan Silvestri’s robust score is one of his most memorable. I miss John Williams, but it’s still a great score. Longtime ‘Berg collaborator Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography is beautiful. And it’s the only film where you’ll see a DeLorean chasing a T-Rex on the big screen. That image alone is worth the ticket price. He never went away, but it’s nice to see him back playing in the sand box.