Ready Player One and Pacific Rim: Uprising

I recently watched these two films almost back-to-back, and I thought they juxtaposed nicely with each other as two very different blockbuster movies. 

While Pacific Rim: Uprising tried to show what could happen if we pushed the limits of man-made technology in its physical manisfestation, Ready Player One explores the limits of man-made technology in the virtual realm. 

As one would expect, virtual reality is often more fantastical than physical reality, and we certainly see the element of fantasy play very heavily in RPO. Yet that can’t be the only reason why I found RPO to be so much better a film than PRU. 

Perhaps it’s the plot. Despite seeming RPO seeming to be the more high concept  of the two, RPO’s plot is simple and laid out from the outset; find the three keys, save the world. Perhaps it’s the fact that the story feels refreshing even while sticking to a standard, fittingly role-playing game-like storyline, certainly thanks in part to the constantly changing action scenes and landscapes. 

In PCU, however, the plot is one built on twists and question marks from the outset; who is the rogue robot? What are Shao’s true intentions? While I’ve mentioned many times before that one thing I love in any film is a good plot twist, I felt that the reveal was not only stunted by a giveaway earlier scene (where Charlie Day’s character connects his mind to some alien brain), but was also beset by the story being overstuffed with too many narratives; there’s the Mako/Jake brother sister arc at the start, the rival arc between Jake and Nate, the rival arc between Amara and Vik, the teacher-Student arc between Jake and Amara, the love triangle that sort of ends nowhere… the list goes on and on, and already, I’m sure you can see how any sort of undergirding plot line is quickly diffused by all these narratives that the filmmakers seem to place enough emphasis on individually to detract from any sort of overarching storyline. 

One thing I must say though, the visuals for both were stunning, and they both certainly had their epic moments. 

Overall,

7.5/10 for Ready Player One

5/10 for Pacific Rim: Uprising 

Sight Unseen: Pacific Rim Uprising

One franchise that the Pacific Rim one brings to mind is the Transformers series, and not just because both involve giant robots in fights aplenty with explosions. 

From the Pacific Uprising trailers, I’m already drawing many similarities between the two; whereas the first had decent storytelling and a more solemn tone to ground the film, the second looks to be an explosion-fest of robot battles with a constant upbeat tone to match. While this may be the winning recipe for the average movie goer, I think it may still fail if 1. the characters are either too unrelatable or underdeveloped, which may be the case seeing how all the characters appear to be the typical hero/anti-hero types, or 2. if the scenes lack enough intensity to make them thrilling. As cool as it is seeing a giant robot beating up some monster, it’ll certainly grow stale if that’s all that happens for 1-2 hours. I think the film make lack the intensity of the first here given how much smaller both the monsters and the robots seem; I thought the first film did an incredible job in bringing out the sheer scale of these battles, which definitely added to the intensity. From the trailers of this second film however, they somehow felt rather Transformers-like, in other words, big but nowhere near the imposing size felt in the first.

I think John Boyega would be good as the lead – he definitely has charisma, but I wonder if he can carry the film, especially if his character doesn’t grow much beyond the typical anti-hero plot line that seems set out for him, along with the already cliche-sounding dialogue from the trailer.

I should note that I think it’s nice how the plot hasn’t been betrayed by the trailers; the introduction of ‘rogue’ robots could create an interesting story arc. 

I foresee the plot to follow the line of the rogue robot/organization re-opening the portal to our world, a series of lost battles ensue followed by victorious ones after the obligatory motivational speech as well as the various characters coming to terms with themselves, resulting ultimately in the defeat of the monsters. Basically, predictable stuff. The whole rogue robot thing does make me wonder if we’ll be surprised by a nice plot twist though.

Prediction: 4/10