- On August 13, 2018
Ready Player One is Steven Spielberg’s latest film, based on the bestselling book by Ernest Cline. All you need to know about RP1 is that it’s packed with ‘80s pop culture references, with hundreds of overt and subtle Easter eggs that will constantly delight any Gen-Xer, with terrific nods to videogames, comics, movies, TV shows, and more in virtually every frame.
Most of the film takes place in the OASIS, a virtual-reality world of near infinite size and scope where players can select an avatar of virtually any look and design. All scenes in the OASIS are entirely CGI, which contrasts with the film stock Spielberg uses to capture life in the gritty “real world” of 2045. The plot of the film is that characters are involved in a hunt for the ultimate Golden Easter Egg, which will give them control over the entire OASIS (and a half-trillion-dollar payday).
RP1 is perfect demo material because its Dolby Atmos soundtrack features a Gary Rydstrom sound design that makes frequent and terrific use of all speakers in the room, really highlighting the immersive audio experience. Also, it’s just fun to watch!
While the Kaleidescape Movie Guide team has done a great job of bookmarking key scenes in the movie, the scenes seem to work better as demo material by starting them a bit earlier. (You can use the “How to Bookmark a Scene” guide to create your own bookmarks for these.)
Scene 1: “The First Challenge”
Chapter 3, 11:25 to 16:55
This comes early in the film, and it’s just fantastic eye and ear candy throughout. First, tell your audience to be on the lookout for some “famous” cars in the race lineup. Easily viewable are Speed Racer’s Mach 5, the A-Team van, the original Batmobile, and Stephen King’s Christine. Once the race starts, the music stops and the scene is all about sound effects. Notice how the smoky exhaust from Parzival’s DeLorean wafts into the room, the smoke dissipating. The rumble as the bridge constructs itself is deep with bass, and the fireworks to begin the race explode overhead.
But it’s the race itself that is pure home theater adrenaline. It’s filled with non-stop, insane mayhem, with cars cartwheeling overhead and around the sides of the room, racers swirling back and forth, around all sides, and overhead with tires squealing for mercy. Colors are bright, and detail abounds no matter how frenetic the action. Explosions have tight, deep, concussive bass, letting your feel each virtual metal-on-metal crunch—and you can practically track the progress of each bouncing coin or piece of debris. When T-Rex and King Kong get in on the action, their foot stomps raise the bass concussion to the next level, with roars and growls that energize the entire room. At the end of the scene, notice how the mechanical sounds of Art3mis’ bike dying are clearly placed in the back of the room behind the listeners, and gradually move to the foreground as she approaches the bike.
Scene 2: “Stacks Explosion”
Chapter 9, 57:35 to 59:27
This isn’t a long scene, but it does a terrific job of highlighting the not-so-subtle benefit of having Atmos height speakers, and the terrific job of audio object tracking. Note how the drones buzz from the back of the room, almost over your shoulders, and then fly up to the front wall. You could close your eyes and pinpoint their position just by listening. You also get some terrific bass here during the building explosion, with debris and shrapnel blasting into the room all around you. Real cinephiles might notice that Rydstrom borrowed from himself in this scene, using some of the same creaking and groaning sounds from the Titanic sinking.
Scene 3: “A Shining Experience for Aech”
Chapter 10, 1:03:15 to 1:08:33
This final scene is a bit edgier, with a few scares, but never veers too deep into PG-13 territory and is suitable for all but the youngest audience. It’s just such a fantastic visual recreation and tribute to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining that it’s incredibly fun to watch, especially through the eyes of Aech, who has never seen the movie. As the group enters the video library, you hear movies swirling around overhead, with thunder and lightning in the distance creating the ambience. This is not a scene that needs a lot of setup, but one to just sit back, watch, and enjoy. Notice the creepy score playing overhead, setting the stage inside the Overlook lobby. After the twins go back into the elevator, the tidal wave of blood cascades down the hallway, making the room sound like a river rapids ride with waves splashing all around, lapping up the walls, and gurgling overhead. The creepy factor kicks up several notches when Aech goes into Room 237, getting attacked by a knife and axe-wielding rotting corpse, with axes chopping through and splintering the bathroom door and then slashing overhead and across the room as he stumbles through the hotel’s infamous hedge maze.