We’re extremely lucky to have Steven Spielberg in the film industry. When the first trailer for his adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One was released, I was unclear exactly what I was looking at. The preview showcased a massive-scale, visually stunning, pop-culture filled, feast for the eyes. And, I can say that the final product is a highly enjoyable visual masterpiece. It has some story issues, but it traverses expectations and becomes one of the director’s better films.
Ready Player One follows Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a teenager living in Columbus, Ohio in the year 2045. In this version of Earth, the world’s population has nowhere left to go, so they spend their days in the Oasis, a virtual-reality video game where the possibilities are endless. The game was created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance), who, after he dies, unleashes a challenge upon the masses. Find an Easter egg, placed somewhere in the game, and the Oasis is yours to control, in addition to 500 billion dollars. However, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the CEO of a major company, is also vying for the egg, and Wade must stop him, with the help of other players including Samantha (Olivia Cooke), who he begins a relationship with.
The film has some plot issues, mainly revolving around its main characters. None of them really get enough development, which makes for a lackluster experience in that sense. I’ve never read the book, so I was quite disappointed with the result. The one that gets the most development is James Halliday, who ends up being one of the best characters. That you can get behind him, and learn more about his loneliness and regret is something not seen in many films like this. Nolan Sorrento is also a very compelling and entertaining villain. He’s ruthless, but also falls for simple tricks, which makes him weak and weirdly likable.
The references are over-the-top awesome. Instantly, the film envelops you in the pop-culture-filled world of its characters. In a race for one of the clues to the Easter egg, there’s the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, King Kong, and of course, Wade is driving the DeLorean from Back to the Future. You can also see Batman mountain climbing, Freddy Krueger being blasted into a million pixels, and even the Iron Giant! And it ends up being awesome. This is a film packed to the brim with this stuff, and even though there’s an overload, it doesn’t matter. It works here. And that’s enough for me.
The action sequences are extremely fun. The race for the key near the beginning of the film is an exuberant, thrilling entrance into the film’s already mystical and mysterious world, and the scene that takes place inside The Shining is one of the most unique placements into a film. Period. The way this film encapsulates so much in one film. It seemed so much shorter than it really was, which made we want to revisit the Oasis immediately after the credits rolled. While this definitely isn’t the best film of the year in terms of writing, its visual storytelling is perfection.
Filled with spectacular action sequences and beautiful visual effects, this is a wonderfully stylish flick. Its overall message is lacking in terms of uniqueness, but the majority of the film doesn’t suffer from said moral outcome. The characters, while underdeveloped, exhibit a sense of fun and definitely have chemistry. The story has been seen before, but Spielberg has created another great blockbuster. Ready Player One is certainly worth seeing, at least for the fantastic special effects.
Ready Player One stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance. Directed by Steven Spielberg.