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Ready Player One
Album Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:

Orchestrated by
Mark Graham
William Ross

Co-Produced by:
David Bifano

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony
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WaterTower Music (Digital)
(March 30th, 2018)

WaterTower Music (CD)
(April 13th, 2018)
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Regular U.S. release. The physical album for the score was released two weeks after the identical download offering, and that 2-CD set was initially less expensive.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you have long awaited Alan Silvestri's return to the adventurous styling of Back to the Future, Judge Dredd, and Van Helsing, with a touch of Forrest Gump and Contact sensitivity on the side.

Avoid it... if you expect Silvestri's themes to assign themselves as well as they could to story concepts, or if you demand truly precise and extensive references to a wealth of other film scores beyond just four or five nostalgic highlights.
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WRITTEN 4/22/18
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Ready Player One: (Alan Silvestri) It had been ten years since director Steven Spielberg unleashed a true blockbuster fantasy film on audiences, and while there will always likely remain some grumbling about the plot and execution of Ready Player One, the 2018 film nevertheless represents an important return to fiscal success for the director. Your tolerance for supercharged nostalgia from the period of 1975 to 1995 will be tested to the extreme by this adaptation of Ernest Cline's novel, the project lovingly targeting audiences familiar with that era's pop culture through its monumental and potentially tiresome saturation of references that require extensive lists to summarize. The story retains themes typical to Spielberg films, including parental abandonment (Seriously, can the man make a movie about a normal family ever again?) and depictions of dystopia commenting heavily on society's preference for an imaginary life over a real one. The premise of Ready Player One suggests that by 2045, a massively popular worldwide virtual reality called "the Oasis" will be the place where everyday people in a filthy, downtrodden world escape to mingle and live their fantasies. One of the creators of this game, upon his death, informs the world of three hidden keys in this realm that, if obtained by any one or group of players, will lead to ownership over the Oasis and the inheriting of the founder's mind-boggling fortune. Five people in America's heartland team up to tackle this quest while facing corporate interference and, of course, learn about all the things that are important in real life rather than any particular lesson to be gleamed from virtual reality. Spielberg, while incredibly reverent towards movies, television, and video games of primarily the 1980's, makes it clear that these glitzy representations of nostalgia are actually unhealthy if not appreciated in moderation. The visuals of Ready Player One are so overwhelmingly futuristic in the Oasis that the director sought for a combination of vintage pop songs and traditional symphonic fantasy score to bring additional familiarity to this universe.

The songs of Ready Player One are a vital component of the overall soundtrack, occupying all the most obvious placements in the story, including a significant portion of the movie's first third. Because these songs sometimes address action scenes, the score material is confined more frequently to conversational scenes. Regular Spielberg collaborator John Williams was long attached to this picture, but given the complexity of the assignment and his schedule, he deferred to another 1980's film score icon, Alan Silvestri, with whom Spielberg had worked as a producer several times. Silvestri was well qualified to plunder significant references to relevant film music of the era, having written a number of the most famous scores of the 1980's an 1990's himself. From the perspective of a film score collector, there are two ways to look at Silvestri's approach to Ready Player One, first as a functional, stand-alone score and second as a work rich with referential nuggets meant for appreciation by aficionados. From both perspectives, there are positives and negatives to the finished product, Silvestri succeeding at his task in general at forming a satisfying narrative that is littered with familiarity, but he fails to achieve greatness in either respect. While his seeming inability to collect his thematic ideas into a truly cohesive narrative may be blamed to a degree on the presence of all the songs, there are many places in the score where a desired thematic connection is lacking, making the secondary original motifs of the score largely useless outside of their demeanor in performance. The ensemble for the film is extremely familiar to Silvestri's action works, his standard orchestral fantasy tones joined by choir, minimal solo vocals, and reasonably calibrated electronics for the villains. This presence of vintage Silvestri action, modeled mostly after his Back to the Future scores, will alone be enough to satisfy many listeners. As for the referential nuggets, the composer supplies such nods in excess in some places and not at all in others, making the score an intriguing study of spotting session strategy. Just as Spielberg and the lead screenwriter removed some of the novel's references due to licensing problems, perhaps the same issues unfortunately existed with the score.

The thematic foundation of Ready Player One consists of two main themes, the most obvious one of adventure for the quest in general and, by association, the lead character. This theme debuts in "Hello, I'm James Halliday" as the quest is first described by the game's creator, assigning the theme a more general purpose than any one character. The theme disappears until the soft shades of "Welcome to the Rebellion" and finally stretches its legs in the first minute of "High 5 Assembles." The idea punctuates all the victorious moments in the latter stages of the film and anchors the first half and final fanfare of "Ready Player One - Main Title." It's a nicely malleable theme akin to The Abyss in its deliberation as it maintains a noble, relatively static progression to appeal to a better morality. The second theme is more familiar to Silvestri's softer strokes of melody in Forrest Gump and Contact, a delicate and melancholy identity for the game's co-creator who conjures the quest. Heard often on piano and chimes and introduced at the outset of "Why Can't We Go Backwards?," this idea accompanies many of the flashback scenes of the character's life and finally flourishes to its fullest symphonic grace in the poignantly revelatory "What Are You?" before wrapping up the latter half of "Ready Player One - Main Title." Outside of these two dominant identities, Silvestri plays around with a few secondary motifs, but none of them makes much impact in the film. The opportunity for love theme development between the two leads in real life is inexplicably missed, the composer providing such an identity at the end of "There's Something I Need to Do" as the movie concludes on a mushy note, but this theme is not explored or even adequately foreshadowed by the composer either in the emotional separation moment of avatars at 2:27 into "Real World Consequences" or anywhere in the tender, face-to-face meeting between the leads' real life identities in "Welcome to the Rebellion." The female lead's avatar does receive a somewhat vintage Hans Zimmer-like brass anthem, complete with string ostinato, at 1:50 into "Real World Consequences" and more muscularly at the outset of "Hold On to Something." Born out of the same beefiness is the mass rebellion motif, congealing in the latter moments of "Wade's Broadcast," that eventually takes on the heroics of The Avengers by "She Never Left" and the second half of "Looking For a Truck."

Finally, the villains of the story are treated with primarily an electronic ambience that is bit more cleverly constructed than one might expect. Since the main villain, Ben Mendelsohn's executive baddie, Sorrento, is essentially a fraud, Silvestri chooses not to even dignify him with an obvious motif. There is an ominous bass-string idea early in "Wade's Broadcast" that may be such an identity. However, when he consorts with a bounty hunter in the Oasis to track the protagonists, his muscle-bound alter ego is afforded a menacing theme heard at the outset of "An Orb Meeting" on brass and 0:13 into "Real World Consequences." This identity morphs into a super-maniacal villain's triumph in "Orb of Osuvox;" by the end of the cue, the character and the orb he acquires are treated to an almost primal motif of choral magnificence. Meanwhile, the rather humorous, posture-related antics of the bounty hunter are afforded a solo string waltz worthy of a Zimmer Pirates of the Caribbean score, albeit with a few Harry Potter melodic twists, in "An Orb Meeting" and later in the middle of "Orb of Osuvox." The remainder of the melodic infusion into Ready Player One is largely inspired by other works, often in direct quotation. Spielberg, after the shellacking he took with his disastrous 1941, was hesitant to parody any of his own films' themes, and, likely as a result, you don't hear many direct references to John Williams melodies, unfortunately. Several scenes that could have used a quick blast of a famous theme slid by unaddressed as a result, once again raising questions about whether this decision was made by Spielberg artistically or by licensing restrictions. Most obviously, the whole of Ready Player One is informed by Back to the Future more than anything else, even when references to that movie are not present. Much of the famous 1985 work is based upon phrases consisting of trios of notes, whether in the main theme or in the Doc Brown suspense stingers, the magical time-travelling motif on chimes, or the snare rhythms of its action sequences. These straight carryovers are led by the Doc Brown stinger, a three note descending phrase of comedy and failure, and Silvestri uses it liberally in this score, especially in the final few cues. It's heard fullest during the chase in the latter half of "Hold On to Something" and even accompanies the henchwoman's punch of Sorrento at 2:34 into "There's Something I Need to Do."

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Average: 3.53 Stars
***** 79 5 Stars
**** 114 4 Stars
*** 86 3 Stars
** 50 2 Stars
* 18 1 Stars
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Alternative review at Movie Wave
Southall - April 23, 2018, at 11:36 p.m.
1 comment  (954 views)

Track Listings Icon
Total Time: 84:31
CD1: (40:37)
• 1. The Oasis (1:48)
• 2. "Hello, I'm James Halliday" (2:01)
• 3. "Why Can't We Go Backwards?" (4:17)
• 4. An Orb Meeting (4:10)
• 5. Real World Consequences (3:30)
• 6. Sorrento Makes an Offer (3:33)
• 7. Welcome to the Rebellion (3:13)
• 8. High 5 Assembles (4:24)
• 9. Orb of Osuvox (3:44)
• 10. Sorrento Punked (3:57)
• 11. Wade's Broadcast (5:50)
CD2: (43:54)
• 12. Arty on the "Inside" (2:33)
• 13. Looking for a Truck (5:35)
• 14. She Never Left (2:41)
• 15. Last Chance (3:20)
• 16. "Get Me Out of This" (1:34)
• 17. "Hold On to Something" (5:14)
• 18. "This is Wrong" (3:48)
• 19. "What Are You?" (3:28)
• 20. There's Something I Need to Do (5:01)
• 21. Ready Player One - Main Title (2:26)
• 22. Ready Player One - End Credits (8:03)
(The CD track numbers do not reset to "1" for CD2 on the album packaging, defaulting back to the download-only track numbers for this product.)

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The insert includes a list of performers and the standard note from Steven Spielberg about the film and score. The packaging of the physical product smells especially foul.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Ready Player One are Copyright © 2018, WaterTower Music (Digital), WaterTower Music (CD) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 4/22/18 (and not updated significantly since).
It would be safe to bet that at least 90% of all activity in the Oasis would involve sexual gratification.
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