Ready Player One
Starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg, T.J. Miller
“It’s a film for the fans,” a familiar phrase uttered almost weekly when discussing superhero movies, sequels or franchise fare. “Ready Player One” is the latest addition, another ambitious Steven Spielberg adaptation, this time based on Ernest Cline’s pop culture novel of the same name. Spielberg himself making a tremendous impact on cinematic culture, is referenced in Cline’s book repeatedly, but the Oscar winning director has removed nearly all his own references from the film version as not to toot his own horn. “Ready Player One” is a creative and original concept, but it’s also 75% animation/CGI. This movie will play differently depending on audience’s recall (or tolerance) level of pop culture characters and media from the 80’s and 90’s.
It’s the year 2045, escapism is the new reality. America has stopped trying to fix its problems, instead virtual reality allows citizens to just ignore them. Wade Watts (Sheridan) lives in Columbus, Ohio in what’s referred to as The Stacks (vertically stacked trailer park). He like many others are poor in everyday life but talented and ambitious in his video game world. His Final Fantasy (video game) looking avatar Parzival has just discovered a clue to The Oasis. James Halliday (Rylance) is the genius responsible for creating The Oasis, a place where players live out their fantasy, but also work to conquer the game. Finding Easter Eggs (video game secrets) that promises ultimate control and hefty riches is the ultimate draw (think futuristic lottery). Nolan Sorrento (Mendelsohn) the CEO of IOI, a company that wants to control user access to The Oasis, will stop at nothing to find the games secrets and gain full control.
It’s an imperfect film working on a sliding scale depending on the individual’s tolerance/understanding of pop culture.
Youth’s reliance on video game entertainment has always been a concern, the evolution in gaming as seen recently with Pokemon Go players dying from carelessness, illustrates how dangerously obsessed a culture can become with gaming. “Ready Player One” is a celebration of that obsession and a prediction on how immersive the technology could become. The future being all about the past. The Oasis virtual reality functions similar to the effect of addictive drugs, a “high” players crave to escape the ugliness of their reality. “Ready Player One” doesn’t show us if Columbus Ohio represents the rest of the world, everything is contained to one location. By the films conclusion it feels obligated to preach that gamers should at least take two days off during the week to enjoy their reality.
I found the film to be rather soulless and boring mostly due to the fact it’s only 25% live action. It feels more high brow Saturday morning cartoon than it does cinematic. If you have ever sat and watched someone else play a video game for hours, that’s what this experience is equates with. The difficulty in adapting something so complex isn’t lost on me, but at the same time its yet another movie aimed at the fan boy crowd, in fact it celebrates them more than any other film in existence. “Ready Player One” is Spielberg’s “Toy Story”, it can work for younger audiences who have no idea what a DeLorean is or why audiences clap when certain characters appear on screen. However, 80’s and 90’s nostalgist’s will see this as a love letter to their childhood (and entertainment room). It’s an imperfect film working on a sliding scale depending on the individual’s tolerance/understanding of pop culture.
An ambitious cinematic fan letter to pop culture nostalgists.