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Ready Player One

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“When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.”

1522380538225 (6)To be totally transparent, this was my most anticipated movie of 2018. Last July I saw the teaser trailer and my mind was blown on how they squeezed so many movie and video game properties into one film and I was immediately hooked. Once I learned it was based on a book, I purchased it, and yes, I’m a slow reader so it took me four months to finish it (also I left my first copy on a plane so congrats for the free book I blessed someone with).

I convinced myself to go into this film not doing the comparison game and allowed it to stand on its on, and honestly, I’m all the better for it.

First off, lets start with the real draw; the visuals. This was a really good looking film. The V.R. world known as the OASIS was utterly spectacular. I feared that this would be the part where the film could fail, but they did a great job making this place look as realistic as possible. Another area I was concerned with was the avatar designs of the characters. In the trailers I found them to be uninteresting, but in the movie they were far more compelling. They excelled in the humanization of each character as the CGI form and were actually far more engaging then their real-life counterparts.

Olivia Cooke was the biggest standout in this film as Artemis aka Samantha. She really evoked the most emotion and energy in a cast of characters that often disappeared within each other. While Lena Waithe was a lot of fun as Aech, her human counterpart was less of a focal point throughout the film. I also liked Ben Mendelsohn as the antagonist, Sorrento. He always had a great bad guy demeanor that fit well into this movie.

So, just a quick comparison to the book; it is best, if you did read it, to think of it as two stand-alone projects. The puzzles and challenges in the book were segmented to a smaller audience. When I read it, I found myself YouTubing and Googling a lot of the albums, movies, and games that were referenced because they were so obscure, or I wasn’t aware of them. I figured that the creators of the movie were aware of that and instead completely transitioned each challenge to cultural reference the masses could relate to. This was the best option, and if I may say so, the challenge to get the Jade key was totally awesome for me, especially being a horror movie buff.

The biggest weaknesses for me were the story, dialogue, and interactions. Even though the overall movie was fun, at times it felt cheesy. As if they tried to force in elements from the book in a very PG sort of way. The dialogue sometimes felt wedged with pop-culture references and jokes that didn’t seem to connect with the audience at times. They also sped through the relationships between the characters (other than Artemis and Parzival) so quickly I didn’t feel like there was a true bond beyond their avatars.

Overall Grade: B or B+

I’m not too sure which one just yet. Even though I really enjoyed the movie, the relationships between the characters was weak and again, sometimes the dialogue and the cheesiness was right at the cusp of distracting. I do believe it deserves a second viewing for a final grade, or at least to catch the hundred of easter eggs I’m sure I missed.

Ready Player One
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Action, Adventure, Sci-fi
March 2018
Director: Steven Spielberg
Warner Bros.
2 hours 20 minutes

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Chadwick Boseman Forever!!

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It is clear that Chadwick Boseman chose iconic roles like Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, Jackie Robinson and Black Panther with deliberate intent and for a specific purpose. In an age where positive roles for Black actors is often sparse, Chadwick managed to land and portray historical figures that made most respect his talents if not revel in his ability to transition effortlessly for one character to another. Even I had to give his African accent a solid B+ (It’s the highest grade the Nigerian Standards Bureau can give for an African accent to a non African FYI.)

Holding out and preparing for these dynamic roles came with both great frustration and incredible resolve I’m certain. Not to mention the taxing ordeal of battling Colon Cancer as the grueling scheduling of filming and increasing responsibility for positive representation loomed. Even under extreme duress, Chadwick’s commitment to others appeared to outweigh his own tribulations, unbeknownst to us all.

Black Panther may have been just a movie to some and that may be because some can easily rattle off 10 movies with a king of non Af-Am origin. It represented a lot more to others. Albeit imagined, imagery on cinema often accomplishes more to augment the social narrative and society itself than actual reality. If negative stereotypes influence perception then positive ones absolutely have the same converse effect.

Even in jest, the cultural misappropriation of raisins in potato salad on SNL skits directly spoke to the tampering of black culture to which T’challa championed, represented and aptly responded “Oh hell Nah Karen!”

If you don’t understand the relevance of representation, it’s probably because you are thoroughly represented. After all, no one is ever grateful for every breath they take until they are gasping for air.

R.I.P Chadwick Boseman. Thank you for breathing life into the possibility of Black excellence.

Alfred Obiesie is a writer with over 12 years of online content contribution (Onetrackmine.com, Cartermag.com, Essence.com) and author (You Made It a Hot Line; The most influential lines in hip hop.) The book chronicles hip hop lines from the genre’s most notable artists spanning almost 40 years. It is illustrated by Grammy award winning Illustrator Shah Wonders and has garnered praise from multiple media outlets (Sirius XM, Vibe, Brooklyn Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, etc...)

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The Mandalorian Gets Star Wars Right

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Star Wars is pretty silly, and that’s okay. If we want Shakespeare, we already have it. I don’t expect some fantasy silliness to ever take the place of nutritious art. Still, I like candy, too, and that’s what we get from those films whittled from the paper-thin mythologies of the original.

Enter The Mandalorian, like some nameless Sergio Leone anti-hero through a planked saloon door, stopping the piano player and all conversation in its tracks. There’s a stranger in town. Could be Clint Eastwood, could be Charles Bronson. In this case, it’s Pedro Pascal, a Chilean actor best known for Game of Thrones and Narcos. You’d never know it, though, since as of episode 7 we’ve yet to see “Mando” sans helmet. This only adds to a coolness originally displayed by another famous Mandalorian, Boba Fett. Boba actually debuted between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in a hastily produced Christmas cartoon.

Not everyone likes it when silly wants to be taken seriously. Still, there’s a way to do it that’s not as jarring as Adam West v. Christian Bale.

Jon Favreau, whose Iron Man truly kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, acts as executive producer and showrunner of The Mandalorian, and he knows just how to balance the whole thing with an aesthetic more Alex Ross than Jack Kirby. As head writer, Favreau successfully walks that tightrope between nostalgia and the now. He tempers seriousness with one of the most adorable little puppets you ever did see. I’m talking about “The Child,” better known via recent memes as “Baby Yoda.” In the same way that the Mandalorian isn’t Boba Fett, the Child isn’t Yoda – yet both have those original characters baked into their DNA.


At 15 million clams an episode, you get some excellent production value. Cinematography, music, and special effects are all on point, as are cameos from the likes of Amy Sedaris, Bill Burr, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Carl Weathers, Giancarlo Esposito, and Taika Waititi. Waititi also directed the final episode of Season 1, to be released December 27th.

The Mandalorian may be the best byproduct of the original series. Check it out on Disney+.

Using a host of pen names, Eric Curran has been blogging in one form or another for well over 10 years. He's a partner at One Track Mine, and also runs the blog Jealous Foodies.

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Aaron Paul Breaks Bad Once Again

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Vince Gilligan brings us the further adventures of Jesse Pinkman as only he can, and the results are pretty entertaining.

Released on Netflix and in theaters on Friday, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie steps back and forward in time to resolve Pinkman’s story in two tension packed hours. Thankfully, Gilligan doesn’t bite off more than he can chew, and manages to pack more action into this story than in four frickin’ seasons of Better Call Saul.

You know that feeling you get when an episode of Saul ends and you feel like you’ve just been tricked into watching lawyers talking for an hour? You won’t have that with El Camino.

Now, if they could just spin off Jonathan Banks the same way.

Some familiar faces show up here and there, and they thankfully don’t chew up too much of the scenery. Worth noting that Robert Forster does a fine job in El Camino, and he unfortunately passed away the day the film was released. Peace out, Mr. Forster.

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