The film I’m going to review today is based on a book from 2011. I’ll admit I haven’t read the book, but I’ve heard mixed things from others who did. Some loved it, some hated it, and the same thing applied to this film adaptation. For me, the trailers did not hook me. It seemed like another piece of media coasting off of nostalgia with all of its pop culture references and use of 80s music. But I decided I was going to see it anyways since it’s directed by Steven Spielberg, who’s one of the greatest filmmakers of our time. Granted, not everything he made was gold, but you were gonna get something out of one of his movies. So what did we get out of this one? Well, let’s find out. This is Ready Player One.
In the year 2045, humanity has engaged itself in a virtual reality world called OASIS, where you can be anyone and anything. When the creator of OASIS died, he left behind clues in the program for a Quest where the winner will have complete control over OASIS. One boy, along with his friends, takes part in this journey to win the game before an evil corporation does. First things first, this is a very basic story with elements that we’ve seen a bunch of times. An ordinary kid goes on an adventure, meets some companions, falls in love with a girl, there’s an awkward romance, they all go up against an evil corporation, there’s a treasure hunt with clues, et cetera, et cetera. Even with that, the film is ridiculously entertaining, which I’ll get to later on. An issue I have with this film is some of the expository scenes explaining the world and OASIS. I feel like those scenes dragged on a little too long. You can get away with that in literature, but in a visual medium like film, it’s best to show, don’t tell. Otherwise, people will get bored.
Also very basic is the characters. Even though they are basic archetypes that could benefit from a little more development, I find myself invested in these characters and their commodity. The hero, Wade Watts/Parzival (Tye Sheridan) is a very generic main lead who comes from a poor background and sees this Quest as an opportunity for a better life. I honestly think Samantha Cook/Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) should have been the main hero since she’s a lot more interesting than Parzival. Even though I do like the interaction between these two, but I’m not too big on the romance, which is very cliched Hollywood. I like his other friends as well: Aech (Lena Waithe), Daito (Win Morisaki), and Sho (Phillip Zhao). There’s also the obvious villain in Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), who runs a company called IOI whose goal is to take over OASIS for profit. He works with another villain i-R0k, who’s played by T.J. Miller and he’s basically T.J. Miller. The best performance in the movie actually comes from Mark Rylance, who plays James Halliday, the creator of OASIS, who’s pretty much an introvert who’s not good at socializing and used his love of pop culture to craft clues for the Quest.
First things first, the pop culture references. There’s a lot of them. You’d probably have to watch this film several more times in order to catch them all, from video games to cartoons to movies and even anime. And a lot of them serve a purpose to the story instead of just being there for the sake of being there. The graphics in OASIS looks pretty damn good. This is one of the few times where “it looks like a video game” is a compliment instead of a complaint because a good chunk of the film takes place in OASIS (which I’m fine with because the real world scenes aren’t that interesting). My favorite scenes are the race at the beginning of the movie, The Shining scene, and the final battle. Holy shit, that final battle was awesome. It looks like something straight out of Lord Of The Rings. There’s fights in this climax that you would never thought would actually happen like Mechagodzilla vs the Iron Giant and fucking Gundam. Seriously. It is a bit funny to see how nearly everyone is on OASIS like it’s some allegory for how hooked to technology we are.
I give Ready Player One a 7/10. It doesn’t have the best story or characters, but it makes up for that with amazing visuals, cool action scenes, and pop culture references for days. It’s a love letter to those who are fans of pop culture and video games. Is it Steven Spielberg’s best film? Not really. I wouldn’t even call it the best movie of the year so far (for me, Black Panther is hard to beat). But it’s a damn entertaining film that’s worth watching. I enjoyed it.