Ok, I need to come clean: I couldn't finish Clines' original work. Too
dark, too depressing, and it didn't feel that interesting in a world where we
already have AR, VR, and online gaming.
The movie next-levels this experience by focusing on what's important: the
characters. This is mostly about Wade and Samantha, but not exclusively, pulling
in the other 3 members of the High Five. It's a fun, action romp with an
OUTSTANDING sound track, leaning on excellent casting.
This last is tricky. Much of the story takes place in the virtual, where Wade
becomes Parzival and Sam becomes Art3mis. The actors Sheridan and Cooke need to
bring nuance and color to voice-only roles, and they really bring the rain.
While the SFX are glitzy and full of shine, they definitely come across as
Avatar-level CGI; it's the character voices that make the screen
The story revolves around their quest to control the VR gameworld they
inhabit. Their actual quest is about companionship, and what's really important
in the world. The message isn't lost on me as my Facebook feed tries to assure
me the planet is a dumpster-fire. People are still people, wanting simple
connections, and that's the real prize the High Five wage war over.
There are a lot of inside jokes that fans of 80s movie culture will enjoy.
Viewers familiar with particularly video game pop culture will enjoy this movie
the most, catering to a wide-spectrum audience for fans of iD, Blizzard, and
other game franchises.
I didn't expect to like this, but I've now watched it twice. Let down a
little by some over-candied CGI, this is an otherwise excellent experience for
viewers of all ages.