A dystopian future where the populace drowns their boredom in a vast online world.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Tye Sheridan and Mark Rylance
Initial Review by Phil Crone
One of the most successful books in recent memory, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One pays homage to all things nerd culture of the 1980’s through the guise of the most important man in its dystopian future setting, James Halliday, and the virtual world he created, The Oasis. As with any book adaptation, there’s always a question on how it will translate to the big screen. This was especially the case here, with wall-to-wall pop culture references and a wide assortment of locales experienced in the book. While Steven Spielberg’s adaptation largely throws many of the book’s events out the window, the movie still retains many of the important touchpoints of the book and while the execution seems a bit forced at times, it’s hard for anyone not to enjoy this movie.
Before diving into the review proper, let’s get a couple important questions out of the way…
SHOULD YOU SEE THE ORIGINAL? – Probably, but it isn’t required viewing. A few pieces of the aesthetic might be lost in translation, but you really don’t need much beyond a basic understanding of who Deckard is, who Rachel is, and their relationship. Everything else can be gleaned from context within the movie.
SPOILER-FREE, SHOULD I SEE THIS? – More than likely yes. The pacing is a bit deliberate by today’s standards, but if you like Denis Villeneuve’s previous outings Sicario and especially Arrival, or you’re a fan of the original, you should see this. And try to see it on IMAX or Cinemark xD or something like that, because this is a visual spectacle.
Ok, and with that, onto the show…
A Monster Calls should be commended for taking on a difficult subject with a more whimsical approach than we normally see, but confusing underlying decisions ultimately undermine what could have been one of the great movies of 2016. The story starts with a strong enough foundation. Conor is a young boy with a life no one wants: his mother is sick and presumably dying, he has no other significant support system to look to, and he is constantly bullied by another boy who may or may not actually be in love with him, but I digress. His life is almost comically terrible – why not just give him a physical deformity while we’re at it? Conor finds respite in his drawing, and these fantasies manifest themselves in the form of a tree monster who visits Conor with the promise of telling him three stories, after which Conor will reveal “his truth.” The structure is reminiscent of the 2006 modern classic Pan’s Labyrinth, but the similarities begin and end there.
Over nearly a decade and thousands of hours of listening to The Adam Carolla Show, I’ve become more and more fascinated with the art of improv. Carolla is a gifted improviser, and he will occasionally harp on the important rules of improv and his days in improv in his 20’s while he waited on his big break. That, coupled with my love of Saturday Night Live in my formative years, drew me to the subject matter in “Don’t Think Twice.” Writer/director Mike Birbiglia brings those themes to life in a recognizable way here. I really enjoyed “Don’t Think Twice” for its memorable cast of characters and small moments that will stick with me, even if the overall narrative was a little lacking.
We all have our criteria for what makes a movie a definitive A+. It could be as simple as just being entertaining. It could be because it has no discernable flaws in a precise checklist. It could be quotability and rewatchability. For me, an A+ is a movie that I keep returning to in my head days and even weeks later, pondering and re-analyzing scenes in my head, finding new takeaways and challenging initial conclusions. I watched “Moonlight” five days ago, and it continues to permeate my thoughts. By my own subjective measure, I believe that makes “Moonlight” an A+. Ultimately, what “Moonlight” does so perfectly is take, on the surface, a very unique and unrecognizable situation and turn that into a universal truth. “Moonlight” is a stark reminder of how much who we are is an influence of who came before us and our intensely human desire to belong and be accepted for who we are.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.