Maybe once or so a year you’ll get a film that is so completely original and absolutely revolutionary that you just can’t look past; Ready Player One should be regarded as one of these films. When compared to the magnificent world-building and CGI of Avatar, only 9 years later, Spielberg’s crafting is an immense progression. Ready Player One is downright boring at times and about twenty minutes too long, but when it’s good, it’s just as excellent as most of the movies it references.
Ready Player One tells the story of a future where a virtual reality world, called Oasis, is more enticing than real life. The Oasis’s founder dies and plants an Easter Egg that claiming would earn the possessor the business. Wade Watts and his friends try and find the possession before the evil corporation IOI does, and uses it for monetary gain.
Spielberg’s blockbusters have never been known for their superb acting, and this flick is no exception. Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, and Hannah John-Kamen make up the cast; I’ve seen each of them give passioned performances, it just didn’t seem like it was much of a focus for the filmmaker, which to be honest, didn’t really hinder the fun.
The graphics are almost hard to explain; they’re such an improvement from what we’ve seen even in the last couple of years, but still seem false, almost as if Spielberg wanted us to be aware they weren’t real. The fast-edits of Michael Bay and Roland Emerich are traded for long takes of exceptional action that flows smoothly. From car races to straight-up Middle Earth style wars, the action is uncensored fun for everyone (especially since Spielberg-esque induced emotion spreads literal generations.)
For being all about references and winks, I cannot express how innovative the world of Oasis really is. Artificial intelligence is such a referenced science fiction theme, even augmented reality has been explored in the Black Mirror episode, “Playtest”, but never has such a world been reconnoitered like it is in Ready Player One. The rules are explored cleverly enough (even if explained clumsily) that I’m able to feel the stakes and understand the events (even if I’m not thoroughly invested). Never have I wished to visit a film’s world as I want to spend ALL of my time in the Oasis; it’s not a wonder why spending too much time in the VR is such a plot-point.
As fun as the world is, it would be half as great if it was absent of all the 80’s/90’s references. Two decades ago, if I were to tell someone that they’d see the DeLorean from Back to the Future race alongside a light-bike from Tron while they both try and outrun the T-Rex from Jurassic Park as well as Kong from King Kong and that it’d have an implausible realism, you’d think it a fantasy. Every time a reference appears you can hear the audience smile; those quick cameo’s from MCU flicks we all love, imagine a film full of them.
“Ready Player One is downright boring at times and about twenty minutes too long, but when it’s good, it’s just as excellent as most of the movies it references.”
I don’t want to go too deep into it, because it’s such a fun scene, but for those who have seen the film, I hope they enjoyed the “movie-crossover” as much as I did. Such a groundbreaking idea that payed off so well; when a character looks at the number of a hotel room, we as the audience all had to chuckle for we knew what was coming (minor spoiler for the clever film-buffs). For a that film is full of subpar, adequate, and great scenes; this may actually be near-perfect.
I had fun in this movie. It’s not going to land on my Top Ten at the end of the year, and probably won’t be stuck in my mind for too long, but dammit, I had fun while sitting in that theatre and I can’t help but smile when I think back to it. It’s fitting that for a film that relies so heavily on nostalgia, we were granted the privilege of having one of the most nostalgic directors to bring it to us.