Ready Player One Review
Chock-full of references from various forms of pop-culture, Ready Player One uses these references to take its viewers on a wild ride through fresh new world filled with fun characters, great music, and the slickest CGI they’ll see on the big screen.
After the death of video game creator, James Halliday (Mark Rylance) creates a contest in his ever-expanding virtual reality game called the Oasis. Players must complete three challenges to gather clues to find a hidden Easter egg so that they can not only win riches beyond their wildest dreams but the keys to owning the Oasis itself. This leads gamers like Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who “in-game” goes by the name Parzival, to fight their way to the top of the leaderboard and find all the clues before a crooked organization, led by businessman Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), attempts to use the game for their own benefits.
The Oasis is a world unlike any other and viewers will be clamoring to see more as each layer is slowly peeled back. It has something for everyone and each new area has a fresh design. Audiences won’t find themselves questioning why the world spends all their time in this virtual world rather than the real world. The real world of Columbus, Ohio is drab, depressing, and poor and is the complete opposite of the vibrant world of the Oasis. This kind of world-building plays perfecting into understanding the characters’ viewpoints on the Oasis as a whole and why they want to win the contest.
Ready Player One’s players make some hilarious and fun parts of the film. They never take what they’re doing too seriously and create some genuinely funny moments. Audiences will easily recognize some strong similarities between Watts and everyone’s favorite web-slinger’s alter ego, Peter Parker. Watts is in love with the virtual world and his love will spread to viewers both young and old. However, his character is sadly placed in a relationship that is a tad nonsensical and comes out of nowhere. It affects the main plot at times and makes the ending feel a little half-baked.
Now, Watts and Halliday are definitely a little stereotyped as gamers who are anti-social and are unaccomplished with girls. The film never breaks this mold really, but does offer some new thought on whether or not it’s worth it to stay in the Oasis. Some might find them relatable and other might feel this is an inaccurate representation.
These players are also faced with challenges and issues that real gamers face today. While Watts faced some slight depression and domestic issues at home, Ready Player One acknowledges that there are plenty of issues that he faces in the virtual world. From players not being exactly who they are in the real world to corporations trying make money off of players through in-game content, Ready Player One is quite timely. Some might even snicker and laugh at how similar IOI and Sorrento are to EA and their attempts at micro transactions.
What makes Ready Player One such an enjoyable movie is how it uses its references to craft moments that will longtime fans of each reference feel proud. Instead of having characters from Mario, Disney, or Game of Thrones grace the screen, Spielberg chooses to have more obscure and niche references be a part of the story. This choice shows how meticulous Spielberg was at making fans crack a smile when characters from Gundam, Child’s Play, Overwatch, Hello Kitty, and many, many more. It makes these references feel more like homages than cash grabs. Not to mention that they all look as incredible as the originally created characters thanks to the film’s slick CGI.
There are even more throwback moments when a slew of classic songs come into the fold at perfectly timed moments. However, the score is a little off at times and feels like it belongs more in Star Wars and Animaniacs than Ready Player One.
It’s impossible not to feel a little giddy when watching Ready Player One and many will find themselves nudging their friends when their favorite characters come into frame. It’s fun, funny, and is the kind of movie meant for gamers and pop culture lovers.