Monday, 9 April 2018

Nostalgia? What Is It Good For?

Ready Player One has been released and I still don't get it....

With the release of Ready Player One to much fan frothing and critic acclaim I feel I should add my opinions. These opinions come from someone who grew up in the Eighties and has many fond memories of the pop culture which is celebrated within the film and book it is loosely based on. You would think wouldn't you that, given this shared background, I would be queueing up on day of release to watch RP1 and that what was to follow was my own personal love letter to my own personal inspirations. Well, that isn't what I feel. Actually, I feel confused and bored. Bored because I don't want to read a (rather poorly written) story about some writers inspirations and confused as to why anyone would. Would a main stream studio have picked this carbuncle up if it had not found its home at the sweaty bosom of every fan boy on the planet? Would Spielberg have even given it a cursory glance had it not been that to direct would guarantee a sure fire hit for him? Course not but we now live in a Post 50 Shades nightmarish wilderness that can see any pulp turned into a cinematic classic.

Before any RP1 fans shoot me down in flames ( and I am sure they will) no, I haven't read the book and no I haven't seen the film, neither do I intend to. This film and the book fall into the category of nostalgia for nostalgia's sake alone. Most reviewers have commented on the sub standard acting and the paper thin story line that serves as a conduit for the writers nostalgic and rose tinted memories. Apparently this doesn't matter anymore and, despite what any decent film maker will tell you, it doesn't matter how bad the acting is or how poorly told a story is. Just pop a few lists of multi platform media sweet meats onto a page and you have something that will jostle the cinematic greats for position. What absolute rot! The almighty buck may govern Hollywood and I have no doubt that RP1 will garner a sizable return (it will need to if it is to make back the insane cost of the over bloated CGI effects) but does that mean it's any good?

I love nostalgia when it is represented onscreen as a respectful and subtle nod (think of the film poster changes outside the cinema during 'IT') but why would someone want to share with the world their own personal lists of nostalgic misty eyedness? Why would anyone want this to be a film? Nostalgia is great but to make a film based purely on the "hey guys do you remember watching this or playing this" bemuses me. Spielberg helming RP1 would mean that the film was always going to be shoved so far into mainstream that any subtle nuance was lost. It was a choice that was designed to guarantee box office return but it means that RP1 would be loud, brash and even more showy. I don't care how much a film shines with expensive effects and impressive imagery, if the film has no soul and no heart it is just going to be polished fools gold.

I respect the rights of fans to enjoy both book and film and we live in a world where we can still choose to watch or read. But I truly hope that this doesn't herald a rash of films that eschew the merits of well crafted and delivered story telling and turn to quick and easy wins. You may happily pay out to see RP1 but I ask you? wouldn't it have been cheaper to sit in a bar and talk about Terrorhawks or Stand By Me? That's what I do!

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