Seeing as Easter is a time of giving – I figured I’d treat you guys to TWO reviews for the price of one today! Aren’t you all lucky? Both films I really enjoyed – so I thought I’d let you know my feelings.
Here is my “Easter Special”, if you will, mini-reviews of Pacific Rim: Uprising and Ready Player One.
PACFIC RIM UPRISING
Set ten years after the Kaiju were supposedly blown up (in a scene ripped right from Independence Day I might add!), Jake Pentecost (son of Idris Alba’s character) is living a life of crime. He and scrapper Amara are both arrested and brought back to the PPDC for – reasons, I guess? – and before we know it, the Kaiju are back and the giant Jaegars are kicking ass once more.
So, yeah… Pacific Rim was never really one for a deep story and Uprising doesn’t really continue that trend. It does try to have a bit more character development and story this time around than the first film, but both are pretty much what we’ve seen in… well, every other film ever made – almost like “Sci-Fi characters 101 by the numbers.”
But let’s not kid ourselves – you aren’t watching Pacific Rim for story, you’re watching them for the big robots!
One thing I did like about Pacific Rim was that the fights between the Jaegars (robots) and Kaiju (big monsters) actually did feel huge. They harkened back to the classic days of mecha anime where robots and monsters would duke it out and cause destruction along the way. Pacific Rim: Uprising expands on this and, if you can believe it, makes the fights even huger. They are adrenaline fuelled and exciting – especially the final battle with the “Mega Kaiju”. It’s rare I’ve found any battles as thrilling to watch as these, and this film made it enjoyable to watch.
Yeah, I know, character and story are important – but sometimes I just wanna sit back, turn my brain off and watch giant monsters beat the crap out of each other. Pacific Rim: Uprising did just that. My advice is if you want to watch this, shut your brain off and just go with it. And hey – it’s still better than any of the Transformers films (you suck, Michael Bay!)
READY PLAYER ONE
Based on the book by Ernest Cline and directed by Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One is set in a future where everyone retreats to an online gaming platform called the OASIS. Here, you can be anyone you want, play any game you want and earn tons of cool stuff if you really put your mind into it. It pretty much makes up real life for many people in this world. Within the game there is an “Easter Egg” Quest put in by deceased creator James Halliday (played by Mark Rylance – and can I just say, him playing a computer geek is one of the most awesome things I’ve seen in ages), whereby if they can find 3 hidden keys, they can gain control of OASIS.
Enter our hero Wade Watts – who goes by the online name Parzival. He and his friends, including online gamer Art3mis try to find the keys and unlock the egg. But evil corporation (because you need to have an evil corporation in this) IOI are also trying to find the keys, so that they can monopolise OASIS for their own needed (insert dramatic chipmunk sound here!)
Now I haven’t read the book it’s based on, so all my feelings are purely from the film. As a parody of online gaming, I found Ready Player One fascinating. Oh sure, there have been tons of stories like this before – Black Mirror and Sword Art Online being two that spring to mind – but Ready Player One was so colourful and intricate that I forgot that I’ve seen this story before. The Virtual World of the Oasis is beautiful and richly coloured, contrasting the run-down reality our heroes live it. It’s not quite a dystopia as such, but you can see why so many people would want to escape from it. The special effects were great and fleshed out the digital world immensely.
I also liked the line from Parzival’s friend when he goes on a date with Art3mis “How do you know she’s not a guy?” That line will be ironic later, but I think a lot of online gamers have fallen afoul of that from time to time. Just further proves you can be ANYTHING you want in the online world.
If you like pop culture references, then you’ll love this film. Everything from Starcraft to Overwatch, to Halo to Sonic The Hedgehog – even Dungeons and Dragons is referenced in this film! Biggest surprise for me was the appearance by the Iron Giant and a level based on The Shining. I never thought it was possible to make The Shining both scary AND funny – but this film did just that! For those who love their old school and new school games, this will be a dream for them.
One thing I really enjoyed was that the more they completed the tasks, the more we found out the background to Halliday’s life. The reveal I felt was kinda emotional, as only Spielberg can be. I don’t want to spoil too much about the reveal – but ultimately, I feel the message that the film is trying to convey is Reality VS Fantasy. Living in a fantasy world is great – but you also have to live in the real world from time to time. Yes, the real world sucks, but it’s the only one we have – you have to make do with what you got. It’s quite deep.
As for what I didn’t like – there isn’t really anything I can think of. I thought the characters were decent and the story had enough to keep me interested (anything that can keep me sat without going to the loo once has to be doing something right!) and as someone who has dabbled in online games myself, I can appreciate the humour in it. In a contrast to Pacific Rim: Uprising, Ready Player One is big on story, but also has its fair share of action as well. It’s a film I would happily go to see again if I could.
If you want a movie with a deep, thought-provoking story and fleshed out characters – Pacific Rim: Uprising probably isn’t the movie for you. However, if you just want to see giant monsters and robots kick seven shades of **** outta each other, then you’re in for a treat. Like the first one, you have to take it with a huge pinch of salt and not be too serious about it. If you can do that, you’re in for a wild ride.
Ready Player One does have an interesting story, with a layered and emotional message – but also tons of fun pop culture references that add to, but don’t detract from the story. It’s a film that reminds us that it’s not wrong to enjoy video games, but we have to live in the real world from time to time.
Both are great films in their respective fields and I definitely suggest checking them both out.
FINAL SCORES: Pacific Rim Uprising 3.5/5 and Ready Player One 5/5