Beautiful Boy Movie Review


An engrossing true drama and character study. Beautiful Boy unflinchingly reveals the ugly impact of drug abuse on families and has some stellar performances from its cast.

The film follows the life story of Nic Sheff a young man who succumbs to drug and alcohol addiction. As Nic battles his demons, his family tirelessly tries to help him overcome his addiction and repeated relapses. Timothée Chalamet plays Nic, with Steve Carrell supporting him as his father David. Together they combine to tell the story through their eyes as the film seamlessly covers years of Nic’s battles.

While difficult to watch, Beautiful Boy is incredibly engrossing to watch. Especially through the film’s examination of the different ways Nic’s addiction impacts those around him. The story unflinchingly portrays his tendencies to become a pathological liar; a thief; a terrified youth and a helpless emotional victim. All of which I had no doubt that such situations would be all too familiar for those who have unfortunately experienced the same problems with loved ones or friends. I found it quite the brutal and honest portrayal of a person struggling with a terrible issue, but I was glad that the film didn’t shy away from showing such harrowing situations.

The film is also led by an extremely talented cast who collectively make it quite the performance driven piece.

Steve Carrel is starting to prove himself capable of more dramatic roles in recent years and I was pleasantly surprised that his performance as David didn’t disappoint. chooses to take on a quiet desperation in David’s characterisation rather than the aggressive, shouting father figures that are often the standard character approach to similar roles. This approach grounded the character’s performance and made him feel more real to me.

Timothée Chalamet is equally brilliant. His ability to flick between his raging mood swings and consistently casually lying to his family without is both impressive and horrifically sad to watch. I also enjoyed his neurotic take on Nic that further alienates him from societal norms; making it harder for him to come back from his drug addiction.

Maura Tierney also does a great job as Nic’s stepmom. She captures the awkward combination of sympathy and detachment felt for Nic being her character is a person not directly related to him. Her love for Nic is evident but the need to protect her own children from the realities of the world that they’re currently too young to understand is also a driving factor that sees her take a much stronger approach to Nic. One of her best moments is a scene where she’s chasing Nic in a mad car chase that’s both incredibly tense and sad to watch. A true testament of the despair her character feels.

Interestingly, director Felix van Groeningen brings a hallucinogenic feel to the film often shifts the timeline the story operates within. This creates a feeling of confusion as to how much time passes, cleverly symbolizing the same feeling Nic experiences under the influence. There are times when it’s hard to keep track of how much time has passed in the story as the characters don’t seem to get older but it’s a memorable film that keeps you thinking for days long after you’ve seen it.

Finally, the soundtrack adds electric song choices. While they may not fit the emotion trying to be captured, they are suited to the moment and feel like intimate snapshots of moments that revolve around a song. It’s an interesting technique but in a way feels natural and adds to the realism of the entire film.

Ultimately Beautiful Boy is a harrowing but engrossing character study. Even though the film does feel long, it’s well balanced and brutally honest portrayals of the story’s issues more than makeup for it. This one film that might be difficult to watch but it’s worth taking the time to do so. See it.

Halloween Movie Recommendations: Part 2 (2018 Edition)

More recommendations for horror films this Halloween. Link to Part 1 here:

Funny Games (2007)


The perfectly executed horror film.

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Funny Games is a psychological horror that follows two young men and their reign of terror on a poor family. Toying with them through torture and sadistic games, the film explores violence in cinema to harrowing heights. The result is quite the message.

In my view, Funny Games is a perfectly executed horror film from writer and director Michael Haneke. Not only is it horrifying; it’s also very intelligent and knows exactly what it’s trying to do. The film is essentially a vehicle for Haneke’s opinions on the audience’s fascination with violence in cinema. Perhaps this is why it is still polarising to some but to me, it elevates Funny Games as a horror masterpiece.

This is up there with the intelligence of A Cabin In The Woods, another great horror film.

Side note: whether you watch the original French or American remake, it won’t matter. Both are the same shot for shot and I enjoyed each equally.

Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006) and Dead Alive (1992)


Explosive diarrhea and lawnmowers chopping people’s faces.

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Poultrygeist and Dead Alive are splatter horror comedy’s that I’m recommending to watch as a double bill. The latter being written and directed by New Zealand’s most famous export, Peter Jackson. Yes, before he was winning academy awards for epic films about hobbits, he was busy killing the undead with basic kitchenware items.

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Whereas Dead Alive follows the rise of the human undead, Poultrygeist bests it by introducing the rise of the chicken undead. These films won’t be for everyone but if you love intentionally bad dialogue and laughing your head off to the most ridiculous scenes of prop gore, then these films are for you.

May (2002)


A slow burn creepy classic.

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May follows the life of a young woman who struggles to connect with anyone. Her only true “friend” is a glass-encased doll; a gift from her mother. It was given to May with the adage “if you can’t find a friend, make one”.

The film cleverly builds on this phrase and slowly descends into a quiet madness. May might be the least heard of film on this list but it’s definitely the creepiest. This is one of those films something very bad is going to happen but you just don’t know what.

A large part of this is thanks to lead actress Angela Bettis. Her performance is great at getting you to sympathise for May while making her feel creepy. There’s a lot of awkward touches to her personality and overall I thought she did a great job.

Yes, it is low budget but if you don’t mind the slow burn nature of the plot, May is definitely a film for you. There’s one hell of a climax at the end and that sequence alone is worth a watch. Check it out.

“Amateur Night” segment from V/H/S (2012)


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This a bonus recommendation as it’s a short film segment that appears in the horror movie anthology known as V/H/S.

The film overall is a muddled collection of found footage films from different directors and is very hit and miss. However, the “Amateur Night” segment by writer/director David Bruckner is a big hit and I love it.

Bruckner cleverly solved the question I have with many found footage horrors which is “why are you still holding the camera?”. He does this by placing the camera inside the glasses of a character so we can see his point of view and the horrors he witnesses. This made “Amateur Night” incredibly immersive for me to watch and I had a blast. For those that are a fan of found footage horror films like The Blair Witch Project, this is a must watch to the list. But don’t look up anything for it online.

BlacKkKlansman Movie Review

blackkklansmanSee it. 7/10

Winner of the 2nd Best film award (Grand Prix) at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, BlacKkKlansman is a witty drama which is based on the true story of a black detective who went undercover to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan. Whilst not perfect, the film’s fusion of great humour and an original tale of race relations in the 70’s, makes for director Spike Lee’s best work since his 2006 film Inside Man.

What sold this film to me was the entertaining dynamic between its two leads John David Washington (son of Denzel Washington funnily enough) and Adam Driver (aka Kylo Ren from Star Wars). Their relationship shared many great exchanges and witty remarks, whilst they worked together to figure out how they would be able to pull off something so ridiculous.

This is because Washington’s character, a black rookie detective Ron Stallworth, has created a white alter-ego of himself, to help him infiltrate the KKK through only conversations over the phone. Whilst Driver’s character, a white detective Flip Zimmerman, is roped into posing as this white “Ron Stallworth” imaginary figure, for any in physical meetings and dealings with the KKK. Such a setup is why I term it as a ridiculous stunt to pull off and ultimately provides the charm for why I enjoyed the film.

I also liked the fact that given the story is set in the 70’s, there was a clear effort in making this film really feel like an artefact from that time. From the costume designs to the production sets of the cars and houses that were used, everything about the presentation felt genuine to what I imagine living in the 70’s would look like. This was also wonderfully supported, with the interactions between Washington and Driver’s characters. Who in one scene comically discussed the differences between how black and white men are “meant to talk”. In turn subtly smartly poking fun at such stereotypes.

My only real gripe is that the story tended to drag out in certain sections. There would be periods of time where I felt like I was flying through and enjoying the film, then suddenly, the plot would come to a halt and decide to unnecessarily take its time.

Some of these slower moments occurred whenever the story wanted to focus on hitting home a message about the racial culture of the period and its parallels to racism today. These came off as frivolous scenes that prevented progressing the story, which was already pointing out these same themes of racial relation parallels in numerous other scenes.

As the best example of such a case, the film ended by showing a montage of racially driven riots that have occurred in recent years. In my opinion, this was overkill to include as it came off as a blatant attempt of force-feeding a message that was already well understood since the film started. At that point, I felt that Spike Lee was using this film more as a mouthpiece to spread his own personal motif against the current racial culture in America, rather than telling this unbelievably hilarious and dramatic true story.

Having said all that, those moments where the film does come to a halt thankfully don’t happen that often to the point where it drags down everything else that was great about the movie. BlacKkKlansman is a witty and well-produced film that tells of a ridiculous story that somehow actually transpired in the past. And I’ll be recommending you give this one a watch in the cinemas when you can. See it.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child Movie Review

the dream child

Skip it. 5/10

Better but not great.

Much like my feelings for the fourth film (A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master) in the series, A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, continues to grow as a horror sequel but it’s still not as enjoyable as the third (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors). It seems like the bar has been raised far too high since then because nothing I’ve seen so far can compete with it.

What I liked most about the fifth film is the new and interesting concepts that add on to what we saw in the fourth. By this, I mean the ideas with (also spoiler), our lead character Alice who returns from  The Dream Master, and becomes pregnant with Dan (also from The Dream Master), which opens up a unique way for Freddy to come back and haunt her in her dreams. I won’t say exactly how, so you can enjoy watching the film but I thought it was a nice touch and it showed the writers attempting to come up with something new. Which can be difficult by this point, given this is now the fourth sequel in a series which for the most part, regurgitates what the previous films had but just in a different setting.  So the fact that they included this, was an aspect I really dug.

I also loved all the special FX scenes in this film again. It’s just unbelievable to see the effort they consistently put into these films from those scenes alone. But it also wasn’t simply great animated gore that I enjoyed again. I like the fact that they explored a new form of visual effects with a particular sequence relating to comic books, which was probably one of the standouts for me along with the whole finale sequence.

But that’s pretty much all the positives I have to say about this film.

Although I liked all the practical effects and certain key narrative decisions, the rest of the film was very much the same that I’ve come to see in the others. I didn’t really find any scene in particular that was scary or creepy, aside from one or two moments. I didn’t necessarily hate the characters but I also didn’t love them because they showed the same characteristics I’ve grown tired of. People not believing other people’s stories. Characters being fairly uninteresting and not useful to the story. They were basically there as expendable pieces of meat on the killing floor and I don’t really care about any of them because of it.

Certain aspects of the story also made me think that this character should be doing this instead of what they were doing in the film. There were a lot of illogically placed moments or plot devices that were brought up but never really explored until much later on or were never explained and forgotten. This film could have been much shorter if they had put in the effort to address those aspects, which also could have added more to the mythology of the Krueger universe instead of just touching on it a little further as the film does. All in all, my real issues with this film are just the story.

I did think it was directed fairly well with some great unusual shot choices and Dutch angles being used. I liked the music for the most part although the introduction and end credit scene choices for songs were so distracting and did not fit at all with the serious and meant to be intense-feel of the movie. The performances were ok for the most part, though there is a few cringe-worthy pieces of dialogue that were delivered in a hilariously bad way. And that’s pretty much it.

I’d be inclined to say skip this film because like I said, it isn’t as great as the third and it’s not very scary as a horror film. But I do like the main narrative concept behind it so I’d say it might be worth seeing for that alone. I’m 50/50 which is why I’ve given it a 5/10 but ultimately I’m going to go with my gut and say to give it a skip.

Shame Movie Review


With Steve McQueen’s second feature film, it’s hard to place any notion of a fault, in a drama that focuses on the idea of sexual addiction and the consequences it can have on human connection.

Set in modern-day New York, Brandon (played by my 2nd favourite actor) Michael Fassbender, is a City Executive for a large firm that deals with a crippling and debilitating psychological problem of sex addiction. He often masturbates at work and pays highly for live porn on his home laptop to relieve his “fix”. His sister Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan, arrives one day and asks to stay with Brandon for a few days whilst she performs a few gigs as a talented singer. This, in turn, sparks a series of events that explore the troubling relationship between the pair and ultimately to a quite compelling tale.

In Shame, both actors encompass a virtuoso-like performance as the audience gets to view their relationship (or lack of) more and more as time passes. And McQueen uses this time to establish a fine pace that not only builds the two central characters’ personalities and motivations but also grounds them in reality. Whilst the audience might not know how it is to live with anyone who has ever held sexual addiction, (which is probably why the rating system on this film was shamingly put up to an R-rating almost instantly), you truly get the sense you do so after having watched the wonderful performance by Fassbender who really does bring Brandon to life and also humanizes him in a lot of ways.

But whether it is the extremes of certain sex-related scenes or the simplicity of seeing him run in the streets for an extended period of time without a cut; McQueen purposely and cleverly uses each scene to dwell deeper into this psyche of Brandon. We get to see close-ups of the pain, grief, and anger on his face when having an orgasm or the sadness and solidarity in his eyes when the film’s opening shot depicts him awake in the morning, staring blankly into space before masturbating in the shower. Each shot used provides a sense of sadness involved in the life of Brandon but also that provocative and unsettling notion.

The love I have for this film and the talent behind those who made it is only matched with by a few other films that I would humbly call a 10/10. But of course, no film is truly recognized as a 10 out 10, as rating anything in life is subjective at best and we can merely seek to base our judgments on sound reasoning and logical way of thinking. Having said that, I almost feel compelled that Shame is one of those rare films in which the director and story have worked hand-in-hand to achieve such a great piece of work. This is by far McQueen’s best film to date, even though he later went on to make 12 Year’s A Slave, which at the very least nabbed him an Oscar and the recognition he deserved at both of these films are incredible.

But Shame took a topic and made something truly special from it, with many scenes from the film still stuck in my head today. This is a film that could be analyzed for days in length, and with many a word by pen or text, but ultimately, you need to watch this film when you get the chance. And it’s out of Netflix in the United States so now there are no excuses. See it.

Fantastic Mr. Fox Movie Review

fantastic mr fox

See it. 8/10

Given Wes Anderson is about to release another stop-motion animation picture, Isle Of Dogs, let’s dive into reviewing his very first animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book of the same name, the plot follows the life of a thieving but good-hearted fox, who is simply trying to provide for his family. Unfortunately, he is thieving from three of the meanest and wealthiest farmers in the area, who become tired of Mr. Fox’s criminal activities and decide to think up a scheme to get rid of him once and for all. You might already gather that the story does feel very much like it was intended for children, and I mean duh, it was based on a children’s novel, but unlike most children book to film adaptations, this is a film that can be pleasantly enjoyed by adult’s as well.

This is thanks largely to its marvelous director, whose filmography is one of the best in the business. In his first venture to stop-motion animation, Anderson’s eye for detail is matched with an amazing production design. From the set pieces to the tiniest amount of character traits that have been precisely manufactured, everything in this world that Anderson oversees is amazing to look at. Since everything has to be animated, later on, it just staggers me how much effort would have to be put in to make it all happen. It might also have helped that Anderson directed a crew that also worked on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, another stop-motion animated film, so I’m not surprised by how great everything looked.

Another great aspect, which should be no surprise, is the obvious skill of Anderson’s shot selection. Apart from being a director who loves to have symmetry in his films, he’s also one of the best users of the lateral tracking shot. Often these scenes, which employ this type of shot, will follow sideways with the characters for extended lengths of time, taking with it all the beautiful visual design in the background. It’s even crazier to think that whilst there was a large amount of effort put into building these set pieces, the shots whizz by so quickly and the set piece is never seen again. These extremely small one-percenters, that have an incredible amount of work behind them but only are used for a few seconds of the runtime, is why I love this film and this director.

There’s not much else to say when it comes down to it because, at the end of the day, when you hear the name of Wes Anderson, you know exactly what you’re getting into a great film. He’s one of the best working in the business and he’s been growing strength to strength with every movie that he’s made. I’m happy to see him return back to the stop-motion animation platform with his latest about to be released, and the fact that’s it set in Japan and has dogs in it is putting almost all of my favorite things in this world together. So, before you go and enjoy that film, make sure you revisit Fantastic Mr. Fox, especially since it’s on Netflix and easily watchable.

The LEGO Movie Review

the lego movie

See it. 9/10

I can’t believe I liked this so much, but Goddamn (!), The LEGO Movie is if anything, seriously underrated.

Like most others, when I saw that LEGO was making a movie, I couldn’t help but think this was just going to be yet another way for a company to market their product to a mass audience. That this was just going to be a big ass LEGO commercial for kids, which would make their parents buy them more LEGO because they saw the new movie and they want everything and anything that was in the new movie.

But what no one expected was that it was actually going to be a cleverly written and very funny film. A film that was smart enough for adults to enjoy but also still is childishly delightful for kids. If you’re still a skeptic, let me explain why in this review.

The movie follows a construction worker Emmet Brickowski (get it, Brick-owski), who finds himself quickly swept up as part of a resistance group, who are trying to overthrow a tyrannical maniac that is about ruining the world of LEGO as they know it. Sounds simple enough but hold your horses, this synopsis doesn’t do justice to the number of layers and degrees of complexity that is behind it.

It is a movie that takes common film and narrative clichés, that would have dragged it down as any other normal kids movie would, and throws it upside down by being a parody of all those said clichés. This happens straight from the get-go, as Emmet shows us the aspects of how to be awesome and happy in this world, what everyone else is meant to do, and why everything is how it is. It’s this dystopian exaggeration of our society, that’s translated to a computer-animated LEGO world that makes it so clever. All of this is subtle enough that you might be mistaken to pass it over as a film that is following typical cliché’s, and that doesn’t realize it’s actually just an intelligent satire of those aspects.

This is why The LEGO Movie isn’t just any ordinary kid’s movie. Thanks to the incredibly spectacular computer-animation, you’ve got yourself a seriously underrated film. I am baffled at how this film wasn’t even considered for an Academy Award in the Best Animated Feature Film category and is probably a reflection towards the idea that most of the Academy members don’t even watch the films they nominate. If you just watch the trailer alone, you’ll be astounded at how amazing the visuals are, and much like my love for stop-animation, the detail to set designs and character movements are fantastic.

The LEGO Movie is a story within a story. It is one of the most entertaining animated movies to date and a movie that is leagues beyond what I was expecting. Equally smart as it is funny, if you are yet to see this film, go check it out on Netflix because you’d be hard-pressed to find others that can come even close to giving you the same experience. See it.

Whiplash Movie Review


See it. 9/10

Whiplash takes the meaning of the word tense and dials it up to a thousand.

It’s a question that has often plagued me, as well I’m sure others who have ever competed in any form of sport or art: does the end justify the means? Does pushing a person beyond the limits of what’s typically expected of them, become a reasonable method of motivation if that person goes on to produce something remarkable? Are the two worst words in the English dictionary simply just saying to someone “good job?”. These are the questions that Whiplash forces in your face relentlessly until you’re left with a tense feeling in your bones, and a nervous train of thought in your brain.

The film depicts the relationship between a young and ambitious jazz student, Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), and his teacher, the famed but abusive conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Neiman aspires to be the best jazz drummer there is, and he believes Fletcher can take him there. However, what surprises him, is Fletcher’s questionable tactics and methods of using fear as a motivator to get the very best from his students, which often leave them with negative consequences. It’s this level of Neiman’s ambition, and the level of Fletcher’s expectation, that ultimately comes under the microscope of Whiplash, and damn is it great to watch.

For any tension or any emotional connections to be drawn out, in a film and work, one of the critical aspects is the performance of the actors. In Whiplash, we get two very fine examples of that with Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, the former going on to win an Oscar for his role in the film. This should have been no surprise to anyone though because holy shit does J.K. Simmons take it up another notch and then some. As an almost logically driven but also crazy maniac conductor, I have never seen a more perfect role for him. OK, maybe his J. Jonah Jameson from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy might beat this but fuck me does his portrayal of Terence Fletcher come close. Every single scene with him was dynamic, tense and just so entertaining to watch. What works best is that although you might not believe in his methods, you can completely understand his reasons for doing so and the belief he puts into his character’s performance is a testament.

But given this is a film about music, how does that hold up? Well, unlike some films that would depict actors playing a musical instrument but then dub over the audio later, it seems like a lot of care was given to producing the real thing on screen. Again, this goes back to the great choice in selecting Miles Teller, who in real life actually knows how to play the drums. The scenes that showed sequences of the drum being played, even if they were edited at moments, all looked genuinely real. Yes, I’m still certain that they’d dub in the better audio later on (through the amazingly talented Justin Hurwitz as the person in charge of music), the fact that they took the time to practice and rehearse these scenes with shows a fantastic level of effort to the production, considering how complicated some of the drummings was.

Finally, Whiplash has one of the best endings for a film that I’ve seen in a long time. I’d even say that it could be in the top 10 film endings I’ve seen, almost definitely simply on the level of intensity that it gives. Just as you thought it couldn’t get any more tense, that you’d seen all that there was to be seen, wait till you get to the final act. There has been a whole scope of dramatic films, with typically full-breadth runtimes, that couldn’t come close to producing the same amount of intensity for the last 20 minutes of Whiplash. Seriously, it needs to be seen for that alone. I’ll never forget walking out of the cinema and just being gobsmacked.

To sum it up: go see Whiplash if, somehow, you haven’t already. It’s another one of those Netflix Gems and a film that is still my favorite from writer/director Damien Chazelle (who later on went to do La La Land, another great film).

Prisoners Movie Review

prisonersSee it. 8/10

Denis Villeneuve is fucking fantastic.

Can we not just stop for a second and talk about, or at least accept, that along with a few other great filmmakers working today (Wes Anderson, Matt Johnson, Trey Edward Shults), Denis Villeneuve deserves to be up there by this point of time.

The man not only made a great film with Prisoners, which you can easily watch on Netflix, but he went on to make films such as Sicario, Arrival¸ Enemy and Blade Runner 2049. Seriously, one of the most impressive filmographies for a director that’s only made 16 movies for which I’m sure at least two of them you’ve already watched and thoroughly enjoyed. Much like you will have after watching this film Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The story follows Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover, a father searching for his abducted child, and Gyllenhaal as the cop trying to find the person responsible. As the situation unfolds, the tensions begins to rise and the pressure mounts on Jackman’s character, who knows time is a critical element in the hunt for his missing daughter.

But it’s these aspects of tension that Denis Villeneuve is the master of executing. It’s unsurprising that others who I’ve spoken to have said that they felt the movie experience was mentally exhausting as a whole. Though I didn’t have the same issues, it raises the point that this film is very tense and maintains this at a constant level throughout the plot. You might think it’s too much too handle after watching the film, but for myself, it wasn’t enough of a detriment to the story and I was thoroughly entertained as I’m sure most will be as well.

I also loved how well it was acted, which added to executing the moments of tension so well. Both the leads and supporting cast were great and very realistic to delivering each of their characters motivations throughout the movie. I’ve been particularly championing for Jake Gyllenhaal to get an Oscar next, because man, has he made some great films as of late (Nocturnal Animals, Nightcrawler).

But the mastering entirely belongs to the head honcho Denis Villeneuve, who I felt if the film did not have, would have been yet another squandering of an equally great script. My only real qualms are that the film could have been potentially shorter, given it is a staggering 153 minutes long. Which would explain why some might think of this film as overly mentally draining. I recommend seeing this as it’s one of the best thrillers to come out in the past decade so gooooo check it out. Like right now. Go. What are you doing? See it. Come on. It’s great. There’s so many other pieces of shit out there like A Wrinkle In Time and I don’t know, Maze Runner The Death Cure. See this instead. It’s fantastic.

Ready Player One Movie Review

ready player oneSee it. 6/10

And the 80’s references are real.

Ready Player One is the new film from maniacal/genius/extraordinaire director Steven Spielberg which makes a leap towards new ground for the filmmaker but unfortunately falls short due to its classical plot structures and characters.

With a foreword before the start of the film, Spielberg suggests that his new movie is intended to give an outlook of a far but very real potential future for Earth in 2044. The society we are introduced to is one that sets aside reality and focuses instead on creating new worlds through virtual simulation. This is known as the OASIS, which if you really want to know, is an incredibly long acronym that stands for: Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation. I know, it’s a mouthful. But the OASIS is the brain child conceived by game developer James Halliday (Mark Rylance), whose death provides players the opportunity to hunt down three Easter Egg keys hidden inside the simulation, which will give them complete ownership of the game. Enter stage right, the young, ambitious, but hopeless dreamer, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan).

As we watch Wade’s efforts to hunt down these three magical keys, which have been masked cleverly with challenges and clues by the games creator, you get the feeling that this movie is just like a game. But just like most games, they lead into classical structures that aren’t much of a surprise for the audience or at least myself. By this, I mean that you’ll know exactly how things will play out.

Even by my synopsis, I’m sure you can gather that the story has set up a new hero, who will rise and overcome all three levels to ultimately defeat the evil boss (Ben Mendelsohn) at the conclusion of the game. Just like any other video game. Which is all fine if you don’t care about a predictable and simple formula, God knows it’s worked so many times for a lot of video games out there, but unlike video games, which can take you on for hours in a playthrough, films must be much shorter than that. So, the factor of predictability plays a larger influence compared to having more time to explore the virtual video game world and not be caught up as much to reaching the end goal of defeating the final boss.

And given that it is following such a classical game-like structure, the film allows for a lot of conveniences to occur. Which, if you watch most of Spielberg’s films, is a trait that he’s been typically renowned for.

He’s a director who likes telling stories that are wrapped up in a nice little box, with all the conflicts and climaxes resolved by the end of the film, so you’re not left wanting anymore. He’s done this for Jurassic Park, E.T the Extra-Terrestrial, the list goes on and on. It’s why his films have grossed a stupendous amount of money and are one of the reasons he’s become the most popular directors in film history today. But does this mean he’s a filmmaker that might challenge you to think a little longer after the films over, say like Stanley Kubrick or Terry Gilliam? Probably not. So, when I see silly conveniences and plot devices for the sake of wrapping up an issue later in the plot, it really bugs me.

But given these major issues with the film, I’m still recommending you should go see Ready Player One. Whilst at times it can be slightly inconsistent with the visual look of all the virtually generated characters, (which is somewhat surprising given there was a $175 million-dollar budget), I’m inclined to forgive this given there was an incredible amount of detail to draw upon. None more so with the action sequences, which are one of the largest reasons I’d say that warrants seeing this on the big screen. The opening race sequence, as you may have seen in the trailer, was one of the standouts. But second best, was the finale, which played out like a virtual reality simulation of The Lord of The Rings battle for The Two Towers.

There are some fantastic shot choices in these sequences that allow long takes which really gives you an immersive and dazzling display of action. I can tell that Spielberg would have loved using these types of shots since they would have been so much easier to film compared to his previous films, which have mostly been live action. If you’re a fan of another one of his movies, The Adventures of Tintin, you might know exactly what I mean, as there as some equally nice continuous shot action sequences in that.

What’s interesting is that for a film that’s set 25 years in the future, there’s a large number of references to the 80’s. This will no doubt be one of the other attractions for people to see the film, and just like a large fan of that period, I also enjoyed seeing all the references. This was particularly well executed with Mark Rylance’s performance of the game’s developer, who acts as a quirky and quietly funny Steve Jobs like character. Any scenes with him were a delight and showed the real heart behind the story and those joyous attitudes we have towards playing video games. These are games that are not meant to be about winning or losing, but rather about having fun.

This film is about throwing yourself into a world of imagination and giving yourself completely to experiencing something that’s intended to make you embrace creativity. But having said that, it’s also about making time for the real world, because that’s the only thing that’s truly real. This is another great commentary towards those who might spend too much playing in a world that doesn’t exist, only to neglect the true beauty of the reality around them. Ultimately, it’s about a balance between these two and learning to not only just think as creatively as you can, to never just dream up new and exciting worlds, but to actually live it. It’s with these messages and themes that I really resonated with and combined with the spectacular action sequences that Spielberg masterfully directs, Ready Player One is worth a watch.