The score to Ready Player One is one that I am going to remember and treasure for a very long time. That should give you some clue as to how I feel about it.
Now, I must admit I may be slightly biased towards this score. The reason being is that my absolute favourite style of orchestral music is 80s action adventure. You know, music like Indiana Jones or Back To The Future. The sort of scores with main themes that you come out of the cinema humming after watching the film. The sort of scores with cues that just work so well with the scenes they are put in and shine the most during the iconic heart racing action sequences that movies of that era had.
Now Ready Player One is meant to be a throwback film to that era of movies, and it has a score to fit that in the style of (yes, you guessed it) 80s action adventure.
Just before we get into the meat of this review, allow me to put forward a strong argument for this kind of score, and why I think they are just the best. –
Now that you have been officially won over by this kind of music, I shall begin.
Ready Player One opens with an interesting cue entitled The Oasis. It uses choirs and is overall quite a depressing piece of music, which is odd considering it is meant to represent the fantastic virtual reality that is The Oasis in the film. It is an odd choice for an opening cue to an action adventure score but is a nice piece of music nonetheless.
Now I’m not going to go through every track on this score, just the ones I think stand out.
And that brings us onto the next track, Hello, I’m James Halliday. This one starts off with a piece of the iconic Dracula theme (to denote a certain character’s death in the movie) before heading off into a great soft version of the Ready Player One main theme. It’s quite heart-warming and it helps that the theme is one of those ones you’re going to come out of the cinema humming (or at least I did anyway).
The score after this continues on its merry adventurous way, but the next cue to stand out isn’t until number 6, Sorrento Makes An Offer. Here we have quite an interesting villain theme. It is a nice piece of music but doesn’t hold a candle in memorability to the main theme or indeed most other villain themes of other films. It’s quite intimidating and a bit scary, but otherwise fairly forgettable.
The next cue on the score is Welcome To The Rebellion, and is such a great throwback to 80s music, sounding very Back To The Future in places. It contains an interesting sub theme in the Rebellion theme and plays it in a soft yet emotional way similar to the main theme in Hello, I’m James Halliday.
We then skip a few again to track 11: Wade’s Broadcast, which is the start of the main action sequence of the score. This sequence continues all the way through to track 18: This Is Wrong. I’m going to talk about all those tracks as a whole, because they all fit together quite nicely to create what is in my opinion one of the greatest action cues made in the last decade. There are a lot of elements drawn from Indiana Jones and Back To The Future in here, as well as shout-outs to Godzilla and various other scores from the 80s. The best parts of these tracks are also condensed down and used as the End Credits suite for this score, which makes it most definitely the best track on the album. It absolutely blew me away the first time I heard it. The music is right from the start moving at a very fast and epic pace, with the main theme for the film appearing at various points. The Rebellion theme also makes brief cameos. There are some soaring pieces of music in this action sequence, along with a spectacular finishing piece. It really is one of the best action cues I have heard in a very long time.
Really the best way for me to show you how good this track is is for you to go and listen to it yourselves. The link is down below.
And now we get onto the final track of this review: Main Title. This is (as you probably already guessed) the main theme for the film, and it is glorious. This style of music hasn’t been done in a very long time, and that is probably all the more reason why it sounds so great now. The piece contains elements from a lot of famous composers; the light-hearted nature of John Williams’ music, the memorable epic style of old-school Alan Silvestri and even a few bars of James Horner can be heard within this two-and-a-half-minute slice of amazing. Upon beginning the track you are immediately thrown back into the style of 80s sci-fi and adventure movies, and as it slowly builds up from the soft opening notes to the grandiose soaring main theme you are thrown into a world of utter musical brilliance.
The score to Ready Player One is epic, memorable and contains some of the best action cues of recent years. The music is soft and emotional at times yet soaring and heroic when it needs to be. The lack of a great villain theme is a tad disappointing, and to add onto that I do think there could have been a couple more memorable themes in there other than the main and Rebellion ones. Still, even without them it stands out to me as one of the best scores in recent years. A welcome breath of fresh orchestral air which is rare in todays music. Loved it.
Standout Cue: 22. End Credits