Ready Player One Review
Ready Player One is Steven Spielberg’s first blockbuster as a director since 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Adapted from Ernst Cline’s novel of the same name, Ready Player One is a love letter to geek culture with its many references to anime, video games, and pop culture.
Though the pacing of the book sometimes comes to a complete stop so the author can list off various references, the movie is able to mostly avoid that problem by virtue of the fact that it doesn’t need to explain each reference to the audience. Fortunately, one doesn’t need to be familiar with things referenced in the film in order to enjoy it, as geeks will no doubt lose their minds as they see things from their favorite shows/games interacting with one another.
Ready Player One takes place in the near future where life in the real world is so bad that people spend most of their time in the Oasis, a virtual reality comprised of several different worlds where people can pretend to be whoever or whatever they wish. When the co-creator and owner of the Oasis dies, he leaves a message telling the world about an easter-egg in the game that will allow, whoever finds it, complete ownership of the Oasis.
Watson, who goes by the name Parzival, is not alone in his hunt for the easter-egg. He is accompanied by his friends Aech, Datio, and Sho and love interest Art3mis. While Daito and Sho, unfortunately, receive the least amount of screen time and character development, Daito does get the coolest scene in the film
The film is more than just a series of references and ended up being a fun ride that invites comparisons to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Mark Rylance plays James Halliday, the creator of the Oasis in the movie, who serves as the Willy Wonka character looking for an heir worthy of taking over the Oasis, while Wade Watson, played by Tye Sheridan, is this film’s Charlie.
Those expecting the film to cover the entirety of the book are bound to be disappointed, as the film only really focuses on the easter-egg hunt rather than covering the entirety of the book. Personally, I feel that that was the right choice, as even with the limited scope, certain parts of the film still felt rushed.
The visuals of the film felt, appropriately, like a video game. The characters in the Oasis are heavily stylized, allowing the film to bypass the Uncanny Valley effect which can break the immersion for some people, as attempts to create believable humans using CGI often tends to fall short. Despite the massive amounts of characters on screen, Speilberg does a good job of making sure that the audience can follow the action without feeling overwhelmed.
The villains of the film are mostly forgettable, with paper-thin character development and cliché motivations. Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) the main antagonist of the film, never felt threatening even as he ordered people to be killed. I-R0k (TJ Miller) was perhaps the only entertaining villain, and even he was more comic-relief than a serious threat.
Ultimately, Ready Player One isn’t so much about video games as much as a reminder that as fun as it might be to lose yourself in technology, it’s still important to connect with people in the real world and not just in the virtual. Funnily enough, that message seemed lost on the audience who, as soon as the credits started rolling, immediately pulled out their phones.