Ready Player One (2018) Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts/Parzival
Olivia Cooke as Samantha Cook/Art3mis
Ben Mendelsohn as Nolan Sorrento
Lena Waithe as Helen/Aech
T.J. Miller as i-R0k
Simon Pegg as Ogden Morrow/the Curator
Mark Rylance as James Halliday/Anorak
Director: Steven Spielberg

In the year 2044, on his death bed James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the creator of a wildly popular virtual reality utopia known as the OASIS, begins a hunt for his fortune and ownership of the whole VRMMO world with puzzles and riddles based on Halliday’s obsession with pop culture of decades past. After years of searching for Haliday’s “Easter Egg,” one average teenager named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) solves the first clue, he sparks excitement and hope back to the hunt, and throwing him into a world of people willing to kill for the information he has, changing his life forever.

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Ready Player One was a movie I was cautiously optimistic about. It had a lot going for it, it was based upon a book with a very creative premise with a lot of potential, a great cast including Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn and it’s directed by Steven Spielberg. But at the same time I had some reservations. Steven Spielberg, while a great director, has been putting out some mostly fine movies but nothing that I found really great. Also from the trailers and premise, it seems that RPO would rely only on nostalgia and just end up being okay. Still, I knew I was going to see it, and I was just hoping that it would be better than I thought it would be. I have to say, Ready Player One really surprised me. Steven Spielberg has created his best film in many years and it’s honestly one of the biggest surprises of 2018 so far.

Ready Player One is quite a long movie, at 2 hours and 20 minutes. However, when I was watching it, it didn’t actually feel very long to me. Honestly the only thing that kind of was out of place and didn’t work all that great was the first 10 minutes which had a whole lot of exposition dumping, looking back it’s hard to picture how else Spielberg could’ve integrated all that information into the film but there was probably a way. Aside from that and some at times cliché dialogue, I didn’t find myself having many issues with Ready Player One, at least after my first viewing. It is a very entertaining movie and had my interest from start to finish, I was really wrapped up in the story that was being told. One of my favourite sequences involved ‘the second key’, I won’t spoil it at all because it really was a surprise. Once you watched the movie you’ll probably know why I liked it so much. It is worth noting that the stuff that happens in The Oasis was more entertaining and interesting than whatever happens in the real world but that’s to be expected. The film really shows you why so many people are obsessed with The Oasis. There is a lot of pop culture references, and that was one of my biggest worries about the movie, because it could easily fall into the trap of just relying on the audience to like the nostalgia. However, a lot of the pop culture references are for the most part brief or in the background. Like there might be characters in the background and we might see characters from franchises like DC, Halo, or whatever. This is because one of the key parts of Ready Player One is nostalgia and it is appropriately used here for the story. It’s not like the movie is shoving The Iron Giant in front of the screen and expecting you to love the movie because you recognise it. Honestly if you don’t recognise any of these franchises or references, I don’t think it’ll really matter.

The talented cast involved does quite well. Tye Sheridan is quite good and likable as the protagonist and Olivia Cooke is particularly good here, the two of them share great chemistry. Ben Mendelsohn is quite an effective antagonist, the role is a little generic all things considered but Mendelsohn elevates the role and does some different things with it. Other supporting actors like Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg also play their roles quite well.

I have to say that it’s great seeing Steven Spielberg doing a sci-fi movie again, it’s been over a decade since he last did it. It’s no real surprise that his direction is fantastic, nothing new, but his direction here is a big part of why Ready Player One works so well. Visually, this film is stunning and immersive. Yes, in the real world the effects and look were all pretty great, but it’s the visuals in The Oasis that really stands out. Nothing is meant to look real, it’s a virtual gaming world after all, where people can change their avatars to look different and some of the things that happen and are seen are deliberately exaggerated at times. Spielberg has definitely taken a lot of inspiration from video games both old and new and it is very apparent here, he did such a fantastic job. The score by Alan Silvestri also added a lot to the movie.

Ready Player One was much better than I thought it would be and is Steven Spielberg’s best film in years. On top of the pop culture references and the general entertainment factor, I was really wrapped up in the story. Spielberg’s direction really brought the concept to the big screen effectively, with the visuals, the style, everything. It was a lot more than I thought it would be. If you are sceptical about the movie, I’d say give it a go because I myself was doubtful and I was blown away by what I saw.

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