I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
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.