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Ready Player One - Alan Silvestri - Soundtrack Review

The plan to talk about another Bernard Herrmann score, the music for Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Trouble with Harry”, was skipped after I saw Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One”, not because I like the movie very much, it was because Alan Silvestri composed the music for another big blockbuster again. We should all support him by buying this CD!

The movie

Steven Spielberg is one of my favourite directors, and I saw nearly every film he directed. Even though I still prefer his earlier ones such as “Jaws”, “Riders Of The Lost Ark” or “Duel” instead “War Of Worlds”, “Hook” or “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”, I wanted to see his new movie. I liked Spielberg’s Polit-drama “The Post” very much, and it has a great performance by Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. I highly admire Spielberg to direct a totally different movie with “Ready Player One”. This reminds me of the story that Spielberg was directing “Schindler’s List” while he still has to finish the post-production of “Jurassic Park”.

I saw “Ready Player One” in a cinema in the south part of London and chose not to see it in 3D. The audience was mixed, a lot of teenagers, and they seem to have a lot of fun seeing the movie and watching the energetic action scenes. If you imagine that Steven Spielberg is 71 years old, and he is still able to direct a film that these young kinds which are at least 50 years younger than him attracts than you cannot praise Spielberg enough for this. Here is the trailer:

“Ready Player One” is a 2018 American science fiction adventure film and written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on the highly successful novel by Cline from 2011. The film stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, and Ben Mendelsohn as the bad guy. The movie is set in 2045 when most people escape their miserable daily life by entering the virtual world of OASIS. Wade Watts, played by Sheridan, discovers clues to a hidden game within the Oasis that promises the winner full ownership of this virtual world. Nolan Sorrento, played by Mendelsohn, head of the video game conglomerate Innovative Online Industries is also keen to win the game and get the total control about Oasis to control the players and make even more money finally. Wade with his love-interest Samantha, aka Art3mis, fights with their teenager friends against Sorrento and his unfair methods. In the end, the kids win and discover that spending time together in the real world at least two days per week is not only nice, it is absolutely necessary.

The movie is a traditional underdog story with mind-blowing visual effects but a lack of a proper story-telling and especially convincing characters. I think I did not enjoy the film so much because I am not the target group of the movie even though I enjoyed the homage of childhood memories of the 80s such as the Delorian from “Back To The Future”, King Kong, RoboCop, “Tron”, or Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shinning”. In the book, there are nearly 100 references to films, television shows, music, toys, video games, anime and comics of these eras.

I found a video with Spielberg talking about the movie:

The weekend I watched this movie, I was in the mood to see two movies on the same day. After watching “Ready Player One”, I went to see “A Quiet Place”, John Krasinski’s horror movie about a family who must live in silence because the earth is conquered by cruel creatures that hunt exclusively by sound. Perhaps it is a matter of age, but it was fascinating for me to see and explore that this cheaper movie with a very simple story but directed with an amazing sense for suspense and character development was so much more enjoyable than the bigger than life movie before. The audience applauded after “A Quite Place”. They did not applaud after “Ready Player One”. “A Quiet Place” is one of the best movies I saw in the last years. What an amazingly entertaining movie!

The music

Like always, John William was planning to compose the score but then left the project to work on Spielberg’s “The Post” and to “Star War: The Last Jedi”. Alan Silvestri was hired who got praised by Spielberg in the liner notes of the CD.

Because Spielberg asked Silvestri to reference his own music from “Back to the Future”, you can find a lot of similar music in the score for “Ready Player One”. The soundtrack comes with 84 min on 2CDs, highly unusual these days and also with a wonderful End Credits music. The tracks on the CD is overall in the similar style and similar quality, so no real track stands out as a single highlight. The album does not start with the Main Title (you can find this track on the second CD as second to last track), it starts with a track called “The Oasis”, nearly two minutes long and the most lyrical track of the album, a very nice vocal track with a choir and fantasy lyrics. Highly enjoyable, composed in the style of typical New Age music of the 80s.

Here is the main theme:

Before we have with track 3 “Why Can’t We Go Backwards?”, the track for the race that brings us after a slow start the typical action music Silvestri is famous for and also reference to Max Steiner’s King Kong theme from 1933. The usage of the strings and the cymbals is typical for Silvestri, similar music you can hear in track “High 5 Assembles”. It is perhaps not the straight forward action track you expect and not my favourite of the score, but overall a nice one.

Track 2 “Hello, I’m James Halliday” start with the famous organ of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata und Fuge in d-Moll”, before we get introduced to James Halliday’s plan with the Oasis. Track 4 “An Orb Meeting” brings us nicely composed suspense music with another musical joke in the last 90 seconds of the track. “Real World Consequences” we have the first real action piece with a first little reference to “Back to the Future”. This track is one of the best of the whole score.

I do not want to go through all the tracks, so let me mention a few: “Welcome To The Rebellion” is the most lyrical track of the score after the beginning, a highly enjoyable piece of music, that has a very nice part with the flute and the woodwinds section. One of my highlights of the score.

“Orb of Osuvox”, I want to remember because of the percussion part here which I pretty like. The last two tracks of the first CD and the first of the second CD are typical suspense music. If you compare both CDs then the second one is more enjoyable because of the higher amount of action music, one of the better longer ones is “Looking For A Truck”. When seeing the movie, I was thinking of this truck idea is a reference to Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” or more to the “A-Team”, but their truck had a different style?

Except for the typical Silvestri action tracks such as in “Hold On To Something”, I pretty like the shorter “Get Me Out Of This” because of the percussion rhythm here, this is a very enjoyable track. The most lyrical track of the second CD is “What Are You?”. The next one “There’s Something I Need To Do” continues the lyrical approach and gives us one of the best performances of the main theme. The last tracks are “Main Title” and “End Credits”, my favourite track.

Here is a piano version of the score:

Overall, the score is for sure not Alan Silvestri’s best work because it lacks a main theme that jumps directly into your mind. The theme for “Back to the Future” was more exciting or recently Silvestri’s theme for “The Avengers”. When listening to the music, you have the feeling “I know this from anywhere”, but that seemed to be the concept of the movie and the music with all its various references. I still recommend buying the score because you will have with this score a nice reference to your childhood memories such as “Back to the Future”, and that is not bad these days.

Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2018, all rights reserved. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Stefan Riedlinger.

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