Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.
Connor Bynum // Film Critic
READY PLAYER ONE
Rated PG-13, 140 minutes.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki, Hannah John-Kamen
Available today on 4K Ultra HD.
When we reviewed READY PLAYER ONE while it was theaters, we called it “a hugely entertaining thrill ride that opens up further the more times you press ‘play.’” As we gear up for the film’s release on 4K UHD, it’s safe to say: it’s worth the extra quarters.
Movie Grade: B
From our theatrical review:
“Reality in 2045 sucks. Just ask Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan). He and the rest of the planet are eager to abandon their suffocating and oppressive real world, escaping into an imagination-powered, widely popular virtual reality called ‘The Oasis.’ Invented by eccentric genius James Halliday (Mark Rylance), this world allows users to create a whole new persona for themselves, specifically tailoring what others can see and what they can’t. For those of us who practically live through social media , the carefully handled message here rings all too true. Anyways, when Halliday died, he left behind three keys to his kingdom hidden in an ultimate treasure hunt. The victor would be given total autonomy over his business and fortune. The quest has attracted the attention of desperate denizens, but also one corporation in particular – IOI, the second most powerful company in the world, led by nefarious Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn, who’s absolutely marvelous and runs away with the entire film). He, along with his endless stream of clammed up “sixers” and scholars, vow to win the competition and throw the world into chaos. It’s up to Wade’s alter ego Parzival and his ragtag crew known as ‘The High Five,’ to save the Oasis from corporate corruption and domination.”
Video/ Audio Grade: A
READY PLAYER ONE arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray courtesy of one of the finest upscale treatments I have ever seen. Captured in 2.8K and finished in a 2K digital intermediate, this is yet another film that I was shocked to find out was not derived from a native 4K source. Textures in both the real world and the Oasis are significantly improved over the standard Blu-ray, especially in the wider shots of the Columbus Stacks. Skin tones are sharp across the board. But it’s during the film’s many spectacular action sequences when the increase in resolution truly shines. Shots where hundreds of cars breaking apart as they fly into each other during the opening race are why 4K exists, even if it is all one big computer generated extravaganza.
The inclusion of Dolby Vision and HDR10 is most welcome. Scenes in the real world feature a much more desaturated color palette than that of the Oasis, and this is unmistakably by design so the viewer can more easily distinguish between the two. Thankfully the increased color pallet helps draw out what little colors are on screen while maintaining the intended separation from the film’s virtual world. The Oasis also greatly benefits from Dolby Vision, particularly due to the increased contrast levels.
The 4K version of the film features a reference quality Dolby Atmos audio track. Even the most chaotic action scenes never exhibit sound effects that are not without purpose.
Extras Grade: B+
There are no special features included on the 4K disc. All extras can be found on the standard Blu-ray, and they are certainly worth a look. A Movies Anywhere digital code is also included.
- Game Changer: Cracking the Code
- Effects for a Brave New World
- Level Up: Sound for the Future
- High Score: Endgame
- Ernie & Tye’s Excellent Adventure
- The ’80’s: You’re The Inspiration
Final Grade: A
READY PLAYER ONE is one of the finest summer blockbusters in recent memory, and now one of the finest 4K discs available. The Oasis has never looked so good.