Ready Player One. More like, Ready Player Fun. Am I right!?
“When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.”
Nostalgia literally means “wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life,” and when you enter the OASIS that’s exactly what you get. The feeling of nostalgia can bring about all sorts of emotions and feelings, some good, some bad, most of the time it brings you back to a “better” time in your life. Enter Ready Player One, the newest Steven Spielberg (yeah that guy) epic based on the 2011 Ernest Cline novel that shares the same name. The world right now is kind of in a pseudo nostalgia phase. Obsessed with once was, things like Stranger Things, IT and now Ready Player One. The thought of going back to maybe a time when things were a little simpler seems to be a trend in Hollywood these days.
So when beloved game maker James Halliday (Mark Rylance) dies, the world is heartbroken. Halliday is responsible for creating the OASIS, and as our hero Wade Watts/Parzival (Tye Sheridan) puts it “People come to the OASIS for all the things they can do,” and “They stay for all the things they can be.” It is now 2045 and people need an escape from their miserable lives. The world has lost some important resources and people are sick and tired of the dreadful world they live in. You can be anyone you want in the OASIS, big, small, beautiful, a giant, a robot, an orc, anything your imagination can think of. The OASIS gives you the freedom to do so. When he died Halliday left behind an “Easter Egg,” and the first person to find this egg would take over complete control of the OASIS and essentially the future of the world. The wonderful thing about the OASIS is well freedom, like I mentioned, freedom to be and do whatever you can imagine. The possibilities are endless inside this virtual reality, until well an evil corporation is trying to find this egg, so they can run a profit off this game and ruin all the fun for everyone. IOI is this corporation and they are run by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelssohn) and they will ultimately stop at nothing until they find this egg. Halliday was a man who grew up in the 80’s, he loves Atari, War Games the movie, any arcade game you can think of. So when he died, the popular culture within the 80’s blew up, because the more you know about Halliday, the better your chance at finding the egg are. Parzival isn’t alone on his quest to find this egg, his best friend Aech/Helen (Lena Waithe), the love of his life Art3mis/Samantha (Olivia Cooke), Sho (Phillip Zhao and Daito (Win Morisaki) are all in this hunt together. Together they make the “High Five,” and one hell of a team. The hunt consists of finding three hidden keys, that will lead you to the prize. It had been years since the death of Halliday and not a single key had been found. Not until Parzival stumbles upon a clue that leads him to the Copper Key. From there it’s a race against time, winner take all battle royale if you must to find this egg. There won’t be another movie where you can see King Kong, Chucky, the T-Rex from Jurassic Park and the little twins from The Shinning all make an impact on your movie, and for me, that is pretty special.
When I first walked out of the theatre Wednesday night, I didn’t know how I felt about this movie. I love the novel, I read it twice and I wanted to see it come to life on the big screen. This is Ready Player One the movie, it doesn’t really capture the spirit of the book. Sure it takes the most important elements, but this is not a faithful adaptation and I didn’t know how I felt about that. Because I wanted to see this incredible fun story come to life, but I know adapting a book onto the big screen, especially one like Ready Player One can be extremely difficult. So I needed to go in a second time, so I could just sit back, relax and watch this as a movie. And I must say, I absolutely love Ready Player One.
People will be on the fence with this film, I think you can immerse yourself into this world pretty easily, but others will have a hard time doing so. The references and the amount of characters and easter eggs inside this movie alone are too many to count. Here’s the thing they don’t do it in a way, where it’s just “Hey, look at thing that, I know that!” They aren’t shoving these references down your throat. Everything intertwines perfectly, and I thought Spielberg did an incredible job building this world. I was just caught off guard with how different the movie was from the book, so I was disappointed in that sense. But this is a film review and it’s a pretty damn good movie. No one really knows how to do a great chase scene like Spielberg, and there’s a pretty fantastic one in this, if I say so myself. He has a knack for fast, clean, precise and well shot action, he’s a legendary director and you’re basically giving him the keys to the kingdom here. How he manages to shoot scenes with so much going on and so many pieces and characters all at once, but it feels so natural. You can understand what is going on at all times, and how he was able to pull this off is just remarkable. Whenever we are transported to the OASIS I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen, so inevitably when we are back in the real world, all you want to do is go back, where everything is brighter, faster and way more entertaining.
The cast is great, Tye and Olivia are great leads, and Mendelssohn continues to prove he can play a really good corporate asshole, he’s such a fantastic villain. But you almost learn to love their avatars more then their human counterparts. Especially for a character like Aech, who just had one of the best looking character designs I’ve seen in a movie. Ready Player One is very Spielbergian at times, all the things we love about his movies come to life here, and I’m happy he was the man to tackle this. There are moments of sheer delight, where my face was hurting due to the amount of smiling I was doing. This is more than just a pop culture nostalgia-fest. There’s heart and real life connections to be made. About how reality is real, and you can’t hide forever. That no matter who you are or what you do inside a game or on the internet, none of that really matters, it’s what happens in reality that counts. Reality can be scary, but it can also be great and as James Halliday puts it – the only place to get a decent meal.
Yes it’s a ton of fun, pointing out all the different characters you see, all the songs you recognize, but I think at the end of the day, Spielberg just made a really enjoyable popcorn flick. I think he knows it, and I think that was his main goal. No Oscar bait, no awards, just pure fun and a trip down memory lane. Imagine Willy Wonka decided to created a virtual reality instead of making candy, and he had all the money in the world to do so, that’s what the OASIS is. The more I think about it, the more I fall in love with the movie. I don’t think it’s ground breaking or anything like that, I just think it’s such a fun ride, and if you get on board with it, you’ll love it. My displeasure of them not being more faithful to the book is a nitpick, but one that can’t take away from the actual movie itself. That would not be fair to the movie. It gives me hope that perhaps down the road we will get that adaptation, but for now I am perfectly okay with the version we have right now. It’s a movie about the future but deals a lot with our present and again Spielberg just made another incredible movie. If you like the movie or didn’t like the movie but haven’t read the book, I highly recommend that you give it a try, because it’s an easy, short and super fun read!
Check ya later.
Nate’s Movie Tour Reviews – Ready Player One = 85/100