Film Review: Ready Player One (2018)

‘A beautiful world full of colours and objects and places that are spectacular to see’

2018 in Cinema:

Ready Player One

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T. J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance

 

Based on the novel of the same name, Ready Player One is set in the year 2045, and many of the world’s major cities have become slums, and, as a result, their inhabitants spend most of their time in a virtual reality world: the Oasis. In the Oasis they can become anything they want and have any adventure they like. Five years ago, however, the creator of the Oasis, James Halliday (Mark Rylance, Dunkirk), passed away and left behind a competition: if you can secure three special keys hidden anywhere inside the Oasis, then the Oasis is yours. The first key is known to be at the end of a race, but in the five years since it’s been active, not a single person has managed to complete the race. This is where we meet Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who wants to win the Oasis prize so he can leave the slums behind with the vast fortune he’d inherit. Naturally as you’d expect, he managed to solve the mystery of the race and then the battle is on to get the three keys before Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn, Darkest Hour), a CEO of a major company who wants control of the Oasis.

This is a Steven Speilberg film, and, as you’d expect from a Steven Spielberg film, the quality of the visuals are breathtaking. Maybe it focuses too much on that, much in the same way Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets did, but it still doesn’t take away from how beautiful this film is. And one of the most appealing aspects of this film is its references. I watched this film with three people and we each left with a series of references different from each other, which shows the sheer amount of them. I picked up on a lot of Spielberg references (mainly that of Back to the Future) including a DeLorean and a Zemeckis Cube. There’s also a beautiful scene which takes part inside a recreation of The Shining’s hotel and features some of the minor characters involved in the film. However, while I find the references fun and interesting for us all to spot, for a film set over 25 years from now it does beg the question as to how most of these things are still around. I don’t mean to say The Shining will be forgotten about, but some of the more remote references, the computer games from the 1970’s or characters from the Halo video game series, does come across as rather silly to guess they’ll all still be around this long in the future. I know you can’t get the same response by making up stuff that will have popularised the future’s market in gaming and films, but having so many references from the last 30-40 years in a film set nearly 30 years in the future is quite unlikely from a realistic point of view.

I also didn’t care much for how easy and obvious it all became; not a single person has completed the race, and there are designated companies which train players to complete the race, until Wade visits a museum about James’ life and stumbles across the exact video clip with the exact piece of missing information to complete the race. The same occurs with the second challenge: he gets a clue, visits the museum and lucks out on the right clip to help him through. It becomes quite lazy at times as it appears they care more for the spectacular visuals than the story behind them. Also knowing there’s three challenges does make it less captivating as we know during the first and the second he’ll make the third (such as with Harry Potter when he entered the Goblet of Fire, you know there’s more challenges so you just find yourself waiting for the first few to be over with so you can be emotionally invested in the main challenge).

The acting is solid throughout, and there are a few interesting reveals with a subtle connection to cyber-personalities that we can encounter on any modern internet game. It’s got a fairly decently told and paced story, if initially it is difficult to fully invest in because we know we have to sit through two challenges and how easy the film gives Wade the answers, and it’s full with beautiful visuals throughout. Allowing the world to have anything and everything a player desires makes for a beautiful world full of colours and objects and places that are spectacular to see; it also does a good job at dividing the time spent in the Oasis and in the real world, which is dark and gloomy, further subtly highlighting why everyone is so interesting in, both, winning the Oasis challenge and entering the Oasis to begin with.

 

Personal: * * * *     Acting: * * *     Writing: * * *     Presentation: * * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * ¾

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