I promised you last June to highlight my MoviePass adventures for March 2018. In the time since I wrote that post, I canceled MoviePass because frankly, their customer service absolutely tanks and I can no longer recommend their service in good conscience. However, I was a MoviePass customer through October 2018 and it allowed me to take a risk on movies I might not have normally seen. It was a horizon-broadening experience. I saw films that blew my mind and some that I didn’t care for, but I more than got my money’s worth from their service while it lasted. Unfortunately, I failed to take a screenshot of my film history with MoviePass before canceling, so I don’t have a complete record of all the films I saw with them. However, I did manage to snap a screenshot of my husband’s before he canceled his account and we saw many of the same films. In my next post, I will be giving you the highlights of my adventures with MoviePass for the remainder of 2018. In December of last year, I signed up for AMC’s A-List program and have been quite happy with the results. I will include an affiliate link at the bottom of this post if you’d like to sign up for their Stubs Premiere program, which is included in the A-List membership. This will allow you to get 100 points for every dollar you spend at AMC theaters, be it on tickets, concessions, and even alcohol. Once you get 5,000 points, you get a $5 reward that you can spend on tickets, concessions, or even renewing your Stubs Premiere account. Signing up through my link helps fund my film reviews here on the site, so give it a go! I’ll be writing about the movies I see this year with the A-List.
As I try to be a woman of my word, here are a couple of quick reviews of the two movies I promised earlier, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri and Ready Player One.
Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri – I went into this film with a couple of purposes. 1). I will watch Peter Dinklage in ANYTHING because I adore him. Heck, I even watched and enjoyed the absurdity of Pixels because hey, who doesn’t want to see Tyrion Lannister with a mullet fighting retro gaming bad guys? He had a small role in this film, but his character was endearing, providing some welcome comic relief to a very serious film. 2). I wanted to see how it was possible for Frances McDormand to best Sally Hawkins for best actress at the Oscars. Sally was such a powerhouse in The Shape of Water, I was surprised that she didn’t win.
Three Billboards was an emotional roller coaster. It was a difficult film to watch, but not because it was bad. That certainly wasn’t the case. The circumstances surrounding the film’s premise are incredibly dark and disturbing. It shows a family in turmoil, dealing with the aftermath of a daughter’s brutal rape and murder. It deals with the ramifications of what happens when justice isn’t served. It asks the question, “Why must we wait for justice?” McDormand’s character, Mildred, does everything she can to draw attention to this issue. The film also deals with stereotypes, expectations, grief, and racism. Sam Rockwell as Dixon and Woody Harrelson as Chief Willoughby deliver incredible performances as well. Coupling these performances with the film’s timely theme make it an important film, but I would advise treading with caution. It’s an incredibly dark film. I watch dark and violent things all the time, but I would have to gear myself up to watch this one a second time. The grief in this film and the desire for justice weigh heavy on me. You might want to follow this one up with something a little more lighthearted, to use a term coined by a friend of mine, “a unicorn chaser,” something that will make you laugh and lighten the mood. However, don’t forget the poignant message of the film–justice must be served.
Ready Player One – Speaking of “unicorn chasers”, Ready Player One certainly fits the bill for a “unicorn chaser.” Ready Player One is a Steven Spielberg adaptation of Ernest Cline’s book of the same name. It’s also my favorite book since Harry Potter. Going in, I knew that it would be practically impossible for them to render this film directly from the book. From a purely logistical standpoint, the book borrows from a veritable smorgasbord of geek culture references and Warner Bros. only has the rights to so many of those. It is financially unrealistic for the company to make that work. What I expected to happen was what I refer to as the Stardust effect. If you’ve seen and read Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, then you know that the book and film are two completely different animals. They have the framework of the same basic story, the same characters, and the same ultimate outcome, but how you get there is completely different. I love both versions of Stardust, but I bear a slight preference for the film. Ready Player One pulls off the same trick. You have the same bones and structure of the story and the same basic ending, but how you get there is completely different. I love both.
Visually speaking, Ready Player One is gorgeous. I was so impressed with the visual rendering of the Oasis. I only got to see it in 2D, which I regret, but even so, it was incredible. I was even impressed with the changes they made to get Parzival to the keys. The cuts and the back story of how “The High Five” come together was trimmed up a bit, but the changes made sense for a film adaptation. Among the cast, I was most impressed with Mark Rylance as James Halliday. The High Five actors got the heart of the characters right, even if I was dissatisfied with some of their physical appearances on screen, which were not true to the book, namely Parzival, Art3mis, and Aech. I like Ben Mendelsohn a lot as an actor, but as Nolan Sorrento, I don’t think he is nearly as menacing in the film as in the book. In the book, he’s a Bond-level Businessman Baddie; in the film, he is almost bumbling and comical, not at all intimidating like his book counterpart.
The film takes a decidedly lighter tone than the book, even though I often describe the book to friends as “happy cyberpunk.” The lighter tone gives it a fun, science fiction feel, a perfect popcorn flick without much of the darker weight of the book. The soundtrack is great, as to be expected, filled with classic rock from the 70s and 80s, but Rush is notably absent, which was disappointing, especially as “Tom Sawyer” was used in one of the trailers and the band is peppered throughout the novel.
Overall, I enjoyed Ready Player One very much, even though I am critical of some of the things that were changed. It’s a fun flick, one that I won’t ever mind popping in the player. It’s the very definition of a fun trip to the movies. As far as adaptations go, it gets the heart of the story right and I think that’s what matters most when it comes to an adaptation.
There you have it! Next post will include my film highlights from 2018, and after that, I’ll be plowing through the films I’ve seen so far this year, along with the other things I’ve been geeking out about.
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Until next time, friends!
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