Based on Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name, Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation is an absolute pleasure for gamers, pop culture fanatics and even just the casual viewer. When it comes to bringing video games to the real world, most films fall flat. From Pixels to almost every video game movie ever, directors often struggle to appeal to anyone other than video gamers. Ready Player One is rife with references spanning all forms of media and everyone will find something to connect with both from the past and present.
We all know Spielberg is a talented director, some people would even say he’s one of the greats. A lot of people are nervous when novels are turned into films, often films struggle carrying a story that had a much longer medium prior. I never read the book, I’ve never heard of Ernest Cline. I mean heck, is it a man or a woman!? Does it matter!? This gives me a great perspective, as I can see the film with a completely blind eye. The entire film is built around the idea of a virtual reality video game which has evolved and grown to the point where the entire world relies on it. The world has fallen into disarray and poverty and the VR world titled “Oasis” is the escape. Tye Sheridan (Xmen: Apocalypse) portrays Parzival/ Wade Watts, our protagonist of the film. The main theme of the film is based around Parzival working with his group of friends to get an Easter egg which has been hidden somewhere in the game. This Easter egg contains the now deceased creator’s shares of “Oasis” and it’s holding company.
Walking into this film, I knew that there was going to be a ton of CGI, I mean the film is based around a video game. Too much CGI can often take away from the feeling of a film (looking at you Justice League), but the combination of CGI and beautifully shot scenes provides an immersive experience for all. Where Ready Player One truly shines is its pop culture references. I literally cried (much to my partner’s dismay) in the final battle scene when I saw Master Chief, The Arbiter, Tracer and so many more coming together to battle. It was every nerd’s dream come true, and boy oh boy was I dreaming. Van Halen’s Jump opens up the film and it’s just a taste of some of the amazing music that comprises the film’s score. The film is set in the year 2045 and every scene, every bit of dialogue really brings you there.
Sheridan’s Parzival, Olivia Cooke’s Art3mis and Lena Waithe’s Aech form the main trio that dominate the film. Cooke plays the rebellion leader turned love interest and Waithe our protagonist’s best friend. The chemistry between Cooke and Sheridan is as awkward as you’d expect from two people that spend the majority of their lives in a video game; it’s cute and uncomfortable, but believable. The virtual friendship between Waithe’s Aech and Parzival is something all gamers can relate to. These two have never met in real life, but have formed a bond that transcends gender, age and looks. Mark Rylance plays the genius creator of Oasis; Halliday and it’s an absolutely brilliant display of acting. Never have I seen a more convincing display of reclusiveness and shyness. The casting of the film was top notch and every character feels at home. Unfortunately, whether it was a case of poor writing or development-the one downside of the film is our antagonist. Ben Mendlesohn’s Sorrento, the whole idea of this scorned ex intern of Halliday’s driven mad by power and greed lacks any depth. Whether he was scorned by Halliday or just didn’t like getting coffee remains a mystery and the ending really didn’t make any sense without this explanation.
This is the part of the review where I gush about references, whether you don’t want to learn what is waiting for you when you watch it or you don’t like pop culture and came here for opinions and a score then skip to the last paragraph. Ready Player One is absolutely rife with things for you to spot out. I’m sure the more times you watch, the more you’ll see. I was scared to blink the entire film, from start to finish the film is chocka. The novel was published in 2011, a mere 7 years ago prior to the film’s release. So a lot of the things you see in the film were undoubtedly within its pages. But newer content such as Overwatch characters have been added to reflect the film being set in 2045. I was honestly gobsmacked as the movie went by at the sheer number of characters that I saw. Street Fighter’s Blanka, Mecha-Godzilla, there’s the DeLorean and a Gundam suit features as well. Honestly, I don’t have enough space to write about everything I saw. Just go watch it.
All in all, Ready Player One is an exciting film that keeps you on the edge of your seats. Literally anyone will be able to sit down and enjoy it. There’s a reference there for everyone, and with the only downside for me being the portrayal and development of the antagonist – you could do a hell of a lot worse.
Also, The Iron Giant is in it and I cried. So prepare yourself.