The Two Worlds of
The movie has two distinct settings. The first is
Levy says the Free City of the game is a dangerous place. With “an enormous amount of threats left, right, and center.” Guy works as a bank teller, where a normal day involves “eight to 16 robberies.” A fact of life Guy accepts as totally normal. That is until he realizes he’s actually a character inside a game on the verge of being destroyed by its owner (played by Taika Waititi).
The other setting is the real world we live in. Levy says each place has “distinct, rigorous visual rules to distinguish” them from each other. “Me and George Richmond, who shot
Appealing to Both Gamers and Non-Gamers
The film might take place in a video game. But the film isn’t exclusively for gamers. “If we do our job well, it’s going to make a gamer feel seen, and like we got certain things right,” says Levy. “But it should be more broadly resonant and relatable” to non-gamers too.
Comer says the film is “sentimental and it has a sentimental message.”
Don’t take that to mean it’s sappy though. All three of them say the movie is really funny. “It’s hilarious to see actual human beings doing it rather than a digital [character] on a screen,” says Comer.
Real Human Avatars
Levy says the real-virtual avatars “are more
Not that anyone in the game will acknowledge the inherent silliness. “There’s a very deadpan approach to the background craziness,” says the director.
A Superhero in Khaki
While it might not seem like it, Levy and Reynolds say
That leads Comer’s character to tell Guy that if he doesn’t want to be the bad guy, maybe you just be the “good guy.”
But Guy can still be harmed in his video game world. He can’t be killed, because he can re-spawn. “But at a certain point there is a circumstance where he would lose his memory of ever having been alive,” says Levy. “And that would be cataclysmic both for him and for Molotov Girl, who, in the second half of the movie, needs an ally in the game.”
Guy’s inherent goodness is more than just a reflection of his character. While Levy says the film “is not a searing commentary on game culture,” but instead is “a comment on how there is something to these games that is aspirational.” He says, “There is something about what we aspire to and how that’s expressed in games that is kind of troubling. And it’s why the big theme of this movie is that Ryan’s character is trying to be a good guy inside a city where goodness doesn’t exist. In fact, it’s not believed. The whole point of playing the game is to indulge pure id. And here you have a guy trying to level up, who’s trying to actually express something more idealistic. That’s probably the result of Ryan and I being fundamentally Canadian and therefore slightly more hopeful, perhaps.”
Comer Pulls Double Duty
Comer is really the film’s protagonist according to the director. Because she plays a major role in both worlds. The two versions of her are very different. But they share one important trait. In the real world she’s Milly, the video game designer behind
She does so by going inside the virtual world she helped create.
Comer also says that despite Guy being a video game character, the relationship that develops between the two is very real. With real emotions. “[Guy] thinks his life has this greater meaning, as we all do, and it’s about how these two people who are from completely separate worlds kind of help each other realize a lot of what is inside of them,” she says. “And they help each other both get to kind of destination it is that they need to be at.”
Jodie Comer Had the Best Homework Ever
Comer says she’s not really a “big video gamer.” So to prepare for the film she assigned herself the best homework ever. “I have been playing, on the PS4,
Our advice for her: try
A Heavy Dose of Practical Effects
The film does use CGI. Especially when Guy puts on glasses that reveal the video game world he lives in. But what the trailers don’t accurately convey is how much the film also relies on practical effects. “An NPC was on fire the whole movie,” says Levy. “The whole movie he’s just running around on fire. We decided early on—like a lot of the effects—we wanted to do it for real. We have this man on fire who just runs through the background of frames half a dozen times in the movie.”
Practical effects come with their own major challenges though. Especially when a real person is on fire. “That guy has to be lit on fire to the second. Put out within a certain number of seconds, or it gets very dangerous,” says Levy. “But there’s something so fun about seeing real people do real things.”
The desire to use as many practical effects as possible also required a whole lot of planning. Like when they shot their big action sequence after Guy puts on his glasses for the first time. The scene, included in the film’s trailers, is all practical effects minus the Apache helicopter crashing into a building. “We had to cue the zip line 4.5 seconds before he’s supposed to be in the frame,” says Levy. “That took 11 takes. But we got it on our last take of the day.”
Get Ready for a Massive Easter Egg Hunt
If you like Easter eggs, you’re going to be very happy. Levy says the film has several of them that allude to a number of games and movies, and movies about games. But they’re more a fun bonus than an integral part of the film.
“There’s always something pretty amazing happening [on screen],” says Reynolds. “I don’t think Easter eggs are a storytelling pillar. But I do think that Easter eggs are something that audiences love. And I love and appreciate. So the movie will be riddled with Easter eggs.”
“When you have the producer, writer, star of
Comer says one Easter egg will steal the show. “There’s one huge one that is top secret, that everybody’s extremely excited about.”
Taika Waititi: Worth Watching on Your Day off
We didn’t get to see Taika Waititi on set. We still felt his presence though. His colleagues couldn’t stop talking about how funny he is. “Taika came in like a f***ing assassin on this movie,” says Levy. “He just rewrote the rules of comedy in the most dramatic way. It’s been a long time since he’s acted in something that he didn’t direct. And so for him, he had absolute freedom. He came in and was one of the greatest improvisers I’ve ever, ever seen. And I’ve worked with Robin Williams and Ricky Gervais, and some of the best. Taika’s next. He’s up there.”
Comer was equally impressed. “You could leave the camera rolling for 15 minutes and that guy would not stop,” she says. “But oh my God, his brain. It fascinates me.”
She loved watching Waititi so much she went in on an off day to watch him filming. “I did all in my power not to laugh at him because I was like, ‘Milly (who works for Waititi’s character) would not.’ I was like, ‘I’m not going to give him this power.'”
If the movie is as good as they think it is, the whole experience will be powerful.