Y’all, let me be the first to tell you, Ready Player One exceeded expectations and delivered on ALL fronts. Here we have a solid story with some heart, great portrayal of characters you love to root for, an exceptionally menacing antagonist, and more nostalgia and easter eggs than any geek could ask for. I stand by this statement in saying this is the most fun I’ve had in the movies thus far in 2018! I mean, I literally caught myself saying “Ooooh!” out loud quite a few times. Steven Spielberg definitely delivered with this one. Friends, let’s chat.
Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name, follows Wade Watts aka Parzival (Tye Sheridan) and his quest to win the rights to the virtual-reality game world known as OASIS by pursuing the hunt for clues and Easter eggs left by the late game creator, James Halliday (Mark Rylance). The film’s set in the year 2049 and the Earth as we know it is in bad shape. The cities look like slums and the world is overpopulated. Luckily, there exists the escape that is OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), the virtual reality system that is much more than a game.
The world transitions into existing within OASIS, be it work, school, gaming, money – you name it. It’s an interesting amplification of the escapism via technology that already exists in our world today. James Halliday, the creator of OASIS, has been dead for three years now and left three Easter eggs in the game. Whoever finds all three clues and completes the quest wins the rights to control the OASIS forever. IOI (Innovative Online Industries) CEO, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), seeks control over the program for his own selfish reasons and has an army of players known as Sixers in the race for the prize.
In the first minute of the film, the cinematography immediately caught my eye. The camera is smooth and seamless as it transitions through Wade’s life in the slum “stacks” (literally stacks of mobile homes) of Columbus, Ohio; It’s almost like Spielberg was teasing our young hero’s future, huh? As you can probably imagine, Wade is poor and currency in the game is worth more than real-life currency for the majority at this point in time. We’re introduced to the avatars of Wade’s friends, Aech (Lena Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao), Daito (Win Morisaki), and his newfound crush Art3mis (Olivia Cooke). While Sheridan definitely did his job onscreen, it was the women who shined the entire time. Lena brought comedy and charisma on the big screen, mostly through her avatar character (rather than her physically live-acting in some scenes). Cooke really sells her role as a down-for-anything gamer who’s more than meets the eye.Hannah John-Kamen was ruthless as F’Nale Zandor, the head of IOI’s operations in the physical world. We love a cast.
Ben Mendelsohn did the damn thing as the antagonist. He was smart, ruthless, and easy to hate. His motives may have lacked a little bit, but his persistence and demeanor compensated for them. One thing’s for sure, Mendelsohn sure does have playing a villain down pat. Mark Rylance’s take on creator, James Halliday, was as good as any fan of the novel would expect it to be. Behind Lena’s Aech, Halliday was my second favorite character. There was something that was just pure about Halliday as a creator that will speak to the creatives in the theater and spark that flame of inspiration to get back to the pure joy of doing what you love: Creating. It’s here where the writing really shines in the movie.
I won’t go into much detail about all the lit pop culture references and Easter eggs you see in the movie because you definitely want to be surprised, but be prepared, friends! Just when you’re thinking “Nah fam, they can’t top that!”, boom, they top it. The action sequences were not only fun but essential to the storytelling methods of screenwriter Zak Penn (who has worked on X2: X-Men United) and author Ernest Cline. My biggest fear walking into this movie was that it would be too much to digest in one sitting or that the actual plot would get lost among all the CGI twists and turns. Fear not, friends: You’re in for a wild yet enjoyable ride with Ready Player One.
Of course a movie like this can suffer from clichés and Ready Player One definitely falls short in that aspect, but it’s nothing that’ll change your overall perception of the film. When you go see this movie, prepare to be wow’d, in your feelings, inspired and ready to purchase the next virtual reality headset you see in hopes that it’ll come close to OASIS. I give it an 8/10!
Go see Ready Player One and check out the trailer below!