Ready Player One

Dir. Steven Spielberg

The director of Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg, reckons that it was his third most difficult movie to make. The first two were Jaws, where there was a never-ending series of technical problems, including a model whale that didn’t work in salt water, and Saving Private Ryan, where there were the physical demands of the scenes.

I left the cinema wondering why it was so demanding, as about 75% of the movie appears to be a headache inducing combination of digital screen capture or CGI. Yes, the staff at the digital effects company must have worked hard, but otherwise the most fun you will have is trying to identify the 1980s reference points; Duran Duran, the Terminator films, Tron, Back to the Future, Atari gaming, plus many more. But in Real Player One, Spielberg almost recreates one of his previous efforts: AI.

The basic premise, based on a book by Ernest Cline, is that in 2045 everyone wants to take part in the ultimate interactive game and visit the Oasis. Tye Sheridan plays Wade Watts, who has an avatar called Parzival, and links up with other avatars such as Artemis (Olivia Cooke) in the search for the three keys that lead to an egg that will give the winner ultimate control of Oasis.

Then the big, bad corporation, IOI (perhaps a reference to room 101?) represented by Nolan (Ben Mendelsohn) wants to seize ultimate control and snatch the egg.

Throw in a constructed, budding romance that seems as clumsily orchestrated as the Iron Giant avatar, add in a couple of spells and you can predict the ending long before 2045. After all, everyone knows that kids are better at computer games than the oldies.

Ged Camera

A Quiet Place

Dir. John Krasinski

"In space, no-one can hear you scream.” Oops wrong film. In A Quiet Place, if you scream you will inevitably die. It will be very quick though, and for some inhabitants of this area of America, death is a preferred option to fraying your nerves as you try to avoid the rapacious invaders. That could equally apply to the viewers of this extremely effective effort.

Rather than waste 20 minutes setting up the backstory of how the USA has become overrun with predators from another planet, the filmmakers set the tone from the opening shots of a family scouring an abandoned pharmacy in an abandoned town in search of drugs that will ease a young boy’s illness.

Why are they barefooted and using sign language? Tension crackles as we soon find out. Blink and you could miss the predator swooping for its prey. Silence is golden and essential for survival.

Emily Blunt and director John Krasinksi play Emily and Lee Abbot, the parents of three young children who try to contact other survivors and find survival. The headlines of yellowing papers pinned to the walls give scant clues to what is going on. In the absence of sound, it’s facial expressions, tearful eyes and quivering lips, that convey fear, love and pain. All five of the main cast, including youngsters Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe and Cade Woodward, achieve this wonderfully.

Sound itself becomes a complicit sixth character, whether it segues from the wind rushing through the crops across to the silent world of the daughter who has always been deaf - as has Simmonds, who plays her. Each has to overcome their own fears or die - and this isn’t a film dealing with cosy endings.

If you look closely, there are a few holes in the plot. How have they kept the electricity going for so long and so quietly? But it doesn't detract from the filmmakers’ ambition to make a lean, lethal chiller to shout about.

Ged Camera