Ready Player One 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 230, August 2018

WSR Score3
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
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Sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language
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Steven Spielberg
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"Ready Player One" takes place in the year 2045 when the real world is a harsh place. The only time Wade Watts (Sheridan) truly feels alive is when he escapes to the OASIS, an immersive virtual universe where most of humanity spend their day. In the OASIS, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone––the only limits are your own imagination. The OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Rylance), who left his immense fortune and total control of the OASIS to the winner of three-part contest he designed to find a worthy heir. When Wade conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends––known as the High Five––are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS and their world. (Gary Reber)

Special features include six featurettes: "The 80s: You're The Inspiration" (HD 05:38), "Game Changer: Cracking The Code" (HD57:22), "Effects For A Brave New World" (HD 24:39), "Level Up: Sound For The Future" (HD 08:03), "High Score: Endgame" (HD 10:04), and "Ernie & Tye's Excellent Award" (HD 12:00); upfront previews; and a Movies Anywhere digital copy.

The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally and on Kodak Vision3 film stock using the Arri Alexa Plus and Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2 camera systems respectively, and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. The live-action scenes were captured on film, while the bulk of the movie is digitally produced. Film grain is very fine and virtually unnoticeable. While there is a 3D Blu-ray Disc available, Warner Bros. no longer provides 3D editions for review. The 3D was upconverted by Stereographer Yoichiro Aoki at Stereo D.

This is a visually stunning experience that transitions seamlessly between the digitally captured elements defining the constructs of The OASIS and the film-based capture of the real world. The real world is effectively depicted in hues that are under-saturated, with a grayish gritty tone without much in the way of vibrant colors. The digital world of The OASIS is vibrantly colorful, exhibiting a wide color gamut, with nicely saturated bold and nuanced hues throughout. Even the darker scenes appear dynamically colorful, and HDR contrast is excellent, with superb black levels and shadow delineation depth while bright highlights pop as effective visual accents. Resolution is terrific, with all manner of fine detail exhibited both in the digital and film renderings. The real world is well defined and depicts a multitude of textures, including weathered, worn-down trailer homes, scattered old cars, and ragged and cluttered interiors. Everything appears complex. The virtual world of The OASIS is effectively sharp and finely detailed, such as character close-ups of the avatars and the varying environmental object textures. Clarity is terrific throughout. WOW! segments are far too many to list here, but notable segments are from 00:11:34 to 00:16:22, 00:025:35 to 00:27:47, 00:30:58 to 00:33;30, 00:45:16 to 00:47:29. 01:29:31 to 01:30:06, 01:31:35 to 01:33:11, and 01:39:35 to 01:40:21. This is a reference-quality visual presentation that exhibits appreciable refinement compared to the Blu-ray Disc edition. Another superb fusion of digital capture, digital visual effects, live-action film capture that is visually captivating. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack was remixed especially for the home theatre environment. The sound is dynamic with strong, extended .1 LFE bass to sub-25 Hz frequencies and is well energized. The soundtrack is often chaotic-sounding, with intricate sonics, both boldly projected and nuanced. The soundfield sounds whole and balanced, with particularly aggressive and directional surround sound effects and music extension. There is a massive amount of sounds that ignite the holosonic® soundfield, with at times extensions to the height channels. The vehicle race to find the first key to OASIS control is a tremendously exciting sonic onslaught of system-challenging energy. Such is pronounced in other scenes as well, as the movie approaches its conclusion. Alan Silvestri's orchestral/choral music score is prominent and liquid throughout and well recorded with a wide and deep soundfield that extends to the surrounds and to the height channels. It is diverse and includes even '80s dance tunes that energize the soundfield. The quality of the dialogue is a mixed bag, with at times reverberation that enhances the sense of good spatial integration, especially in the virtual world, but otherwise projects a forward presence that disconnects with the visualizations. The in-head narration also is projected forward but is generally well balanced against the other sound elements.

The Immersive Sound elements comprise mainly the aggressive orchestral/choral score, which is extended to the height channels. Other sonics include wind currents, flying drone objects, footsteps, sound effects connected to wearing a VR headset, battle sound effects, gunfire, running on a table, the voice of James Halliday, players running, engine roars, a horn blast, fireworks, vehicle race skirmish sounds and engine roars, explosions, a truck horn, crashes, wrecking balls, glass smatterings, motorcycle sounds, a finger snap, reverberations, blowing leaves, bird chirps, coin sounds, swooping sounds, running waves of blood, a female security voice, rubble and debris, lots of low-frequency rumble, extension of sound effects and Foley sound effects, as well as all manner of sound effects, to create a sense of chaos. This is one of the best Dolby Atmos soundtracks to date. A lot of thought went into creating the Immersive Sound elements.

This is a well-crafted and exciting soundtrack that is exceedingly entertaining as it projects an outstanding dynamic character. (Gary Reber)