Ready Player One by Alan Silvestri

Legendary director Steven Spielberg surely has been very prolific again. Only four months ago, his acclaimed film The Post had been released and recently Ready Player One hit the theaters. As a matter of fact, the latter was actually scheduled for December 2017. However, due to the fact that Star Wars – The Last Jedi had already opened, the premiere of Ready Player One was pushed back a little.

For his most recent project, the brilliant director brought Ernest Cline’s science fiction novel to the big screen. The story revolves around the orphaned teenager Wade Watts (Parzival) who, in order to escape the bleak and desolate reality of the year 2045, finds comfort in virtual reality.

The film itself is not the kind of project you would associate with Steven Spielberg right away. He indeed tried something new and fresh and I must say that it worked quite well. Despite the film’s fast-paced and spectacular action sequences, I did not think that Spielberg was pushing it too far. In many ways, I felt that he did what he had to do in order to realize his vision properly. In the video game world all bets are off and there are basically no boundaries. You dive into a digital world and you are likely to be mesmerized by it. Despite the film’s big sequences, Spielberg still takes his time to tell the story and he nicely portrays the characters. The cast was put together well and I felt that all actors did a convincing job.

The film is filled with nostalgia as there are many references to the 1980s. On top of that, many easter eggs can be found and I must say that, for non-movie buffs, it might be at times hard to really understand every reference that is presented. Steven Spielberg also provides many feel-good moments. The dancing sequence between Parzival (Wade Watts) and Art3mis (Samantha Cook) stood out in particular. It was really fun to watch the characters dancing along to the Bee Gee’s hit Staying Alive. However, my absolute favorite moment of the entire movie was the recreation of The Shining. In this particular sequence, the characters find themselves in the Overlook Hotel. It was a stroke of genius. The setting of The Shining was incorporated stunningly.

“Never change a winning team” seems to be a Spielberg motto as he, with one very notable exception, once again reassembled his regular crew. (Editor Michael Kahn and director of photography Janusz Kamiński). This time, one of his most loyal companions, John Williams, was not available to score the picture and Alan Silvestri, one of Hollywood’s most beloved composers, got the chance to work his magic. Reportedly, he was recommended directly by John Williams.

As far as the score for Ready Player One is concerned, I was never really worried about the outcome. As I mentioned already at some point in the past, Steven Spielberg is one of those directors who is very much aware of what music should do in a film. All of the scores John Williams wrote for his movies are an integral part of the story. He allows the composers to really express themselves musically so his projects receive the music they deserve. No matter how great most of Spielberg’s film are – they would not be the same, if it wasn’t for the music.

In many ways, Ready Player One is classic Alan Silvestri material. It features all of the ingredients so many people love about his music. The score album is a massive two-disc set featuring over eighty minutes of music. I must say that WaterTower once again released a great edition. The album starts off with “The Oasis” –  a superb choir piece that underscores the sequence when Wade Watts takes the audience inside the video game world for the first time.

This project certainly contains many sequences that needed big orchestral and very rhythmic music. In “Why Can’t We Go Backwards”, Alan Silvestri skillfully and brilliantly underscores one of the first huge action sequences. This piece showcases his incredible talent for writing big, exciting and mesmerizing music. As the film includes many references to several classic movies, Alan Silvestri also quotes his own Back To The Future score a couple of times. Long time fans of the composer, will certainly recognize his style right away – brass, woodwinds, strings and basically the entire instrumentation is pure Silvestri. He not only manages to write very exciting music for the action, but he also once again shows his gift for beautiful melodies. Once thing is for sure – when Alan Silvestri delivers, he does so big time. Cues like “Looking For A Truck” are simply masterful. This is not some generic and totally trite action music – this is action scoring at a very high level. For many cues, Silvestri brought out the big guns. His signature brass fanfares combined with his fantastic string writing result in a very rewarding listening experience.

Fans of quality film music really get their money’s worth here. It is one of the finest scores Alan Silvestri has written in years. This time we even get a proper album presentation right away. There are quite a few great scores of his that did not get the release they deserved. During the final ten minutes of the album, you get to hear some of the score’s most important and best material. Alan Silvestri proved once again that he is one of the very best composers around. The primary themes are very catchy and downright hummable. How many times do you walk out of the theater these days humming a theme? How many scores stick with you right away? If you find one, you should grab it right away and cherish every minute of it. Ready Player One is one of my favorite scores of the year so far and it certainly stands as one of the best ones Alan Silvestri has written in his long and very impressive career. Music of this kind is the reason why so many people fell in love with film music in the first place. We certainly have a winner here. Well done, Mr. Silvestri!