Ready Player One takes us into the history of films, TV and games and stirs them all together in a nostalgic masterclass. Every scene is an Easter egg hunt fiesta and whilst the search is entertaining in itself, at heart, it’s a classic Spielberg adventure.
Set in a dystopian future where mankind escapes the slums of the real world by living in a virtual reality called The OASIS. A gaming world created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) that is littered with 80’s pop culture. One minute we’re racing along streets in a time-travelling DeLorean being chased by dinosaurs and King Kong and the next we’re on the set of The Shining or following The Iron Giant onto a virtual battlefield. Exploring our addiction to technology and a world without creative boundaries must have been a field day for screenwriters Ernest Cline and Zak Penn. Creative juices must have been flowing faster than blood flow out of the lifts in The Overlook Hotel (you NEED to see this scene).
After Halliday’s death it is revealed that he had hidden three challenges within The OASIS. Whichever player complete these challenges will become the ultimate winner and sole owner of The OASIS. Our lead Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) who’s Gamertag is Parzival teams up with his in-game friends to rise up against the IOI. The IOI are an evil corporation who are intent on taking control of The OASIS themselves. The IOI is run by none other than Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) who’s on one hell of a power-trip throughout the films duration.
Everything from Production design to Cinematography is nearly flawless. Everyone on board has had a creative freedom to exploit their vision of The OASIS and it pays off beautifully. If you’re not an 80’s cinema fan or a film buff there’s no need to worry. You’ll still have a great time seeing all the incredible events unfold on screen before you.
I always remember the first time I watched Back to the Future or the first video games I ever played that sucked me in and had me hooked. Ready Player One exploits our inner child and throws so many references at you in the hopes you latch on and appreciate them. It’s not just classic references either, I could have sworn I saw a Gears of War lancer gun being used in a battle scene. Watch out for that one!
Tye Sheridan carries this film single-handedly and what the movie lacks in character depth it more than makes up for with love. Love of cinema, love of the arts, TV and gaming. This film really feels like a Spielberg passion project rather than a vanity project exploiting some of his best creations.
The only thing I found rather strange about the movie was the awkward love story. Not a side-story to divert me from absolutely loving this masterpiece but it did fly a red flag. Imagine meeting someone online, getting to know them and bond with them. You have absolutely no idea who is on the other side of that screen (or headset in this case). Wade seems convinced he’s talking to a female but he could be talking to a fat dude called Chuck who’s using a female avatar (something that’s referenced in the movie). As luck would have it she just happens to be the beautiful Olivia Cooke (what are the odds?!). This felt rather forced and weird as they have a job to do, falling in love with a virtual cartoon can wait until later!
Ready Player One is a film that paints a smile on your face. A film that catapults you into a world of nostalgia and cinematic beauty. A movie that looks so damn good that even 3D glasses couldn’t ruin my experience! As the credits rolled and I get that real-world ‘Game Over’ feeling I can’t help but metaphorically click that ‘Replay’ button and eagerly wait to re-live it all over again.