Everyone goes to the movies for different reasons. Some go for pure escapism, some to challenge their minds, and some to experience new things vicariously through the screen. One thing that can often be lost in the movie-going experience is something very important that we take for granted far too often – fun! Ready Player One is one of the most fun experiences you can hope to have in a movie theater, and there’s a lot to be said for that in these trying times.
Ready Player One is an absolute feast for the eyes. Director Steven Spielberg is a living legend, and rightfully so. One of his greatest strengths is providing awe inspiring visuals; whether it be a giant T-Rex in Jurassic Park, a shark capsizing a small fishing vessel in Jaws, or a little boy and his alien taking flight in E.T., Spielberg is a master visual storyteller, and Ready Player One is no different. This is the perfect film to invest in seeing in IMAX – go see this on the biggest, most high definition screen you can, because it is worth every penny. The neon visuals and bombastic action sequences pop off the screen, and are drenched in pure nostalgia – something that Ready Player One celebrates at every opportunity.
Set in the near future, the world has been taken over by the ‘Oasis’, a massive virtual reality video game in which players don a virtual reality visor and suit, and enter a world where literally anything is possible. Created by reclusive genius James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the Oasis is at the center of everything on Earth, a planet which has seen better days. People devote their entire real lives to their virtual ones, for better and for worse.
Our hero, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), lives in the ‘stacks’ of Columbus, Ohio. Overpopulation has gotten to such a point that homes are literally built on top of each other like an MC Escher trailer park. The story begins with the passing of Halliday, who, at the time of his death, let everyone in the world know that he hid 3 keys somewhere in the vastness of the Oasis. The first player to find these keys will receive an ‘Easter Egg’, and gain control of the Oasis as well as half a trillion dollars.
One of the biggest competitors for the quest is Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), CEO of Innovative Online Industries – the Microsoft to Halliday’s Apple. Sorrento has amassed an army to find Halliday’s keys, but for years, nobody has come even close. Until Wade, that is. Together, him and his friends go on a mission crossing between the ‘real world’ and the ‘virtual world’ to find the keys and stop IOI from winning – because, as you might expect, the corporation’s intentions for the Oasis are far from good.
The cast is absolutely delightful. Wade, his group of friends, and every other character that helps him along the way are endearing in one way or another. Ben Mendelsohn particularly stands out as Sorrento, deftly switching from Saturday morning cartoon villain to a legitimate, menacing antagonist, harking back to his role as Director Krennic from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Mark Rylance is also strong as genius Halliday – it’s easy to feel sympathy for his character, a reclusive loner who is obsessed with pop culture and struggles to connect with other people – and whose creation had gone far beyond his intentions, morphing into something he had never expected.
In terms of story, the film works well – though there’s a few points that ask a bit much of the audience, and a drastic tonal shift halfway through that feels jarring, though it seems to pass as quickly as it appears.
The final fight sequence is a visual splendor that will have you jumping and cheering in your seat – and the rest of the cinema too. This is definitely one of those movies best seen with a crowd.
It’s easy to see why nerds and geeks of all types fell in love with the book, and are subsequently falling in love with the film. In this world, not only is an obsession with movies, TV, games or comics not a bad thing, it’s a weapon. Something used to better yourself and live out your dreams. Something that is rewarded, not scorned.
Ready Player One is a love letter to pop culture and fandom, and has some thoughtful things to say on the nature of reality, games, and why people love to play them. A solid 4 stars!
Ready Player One is showing in cinemas now, and we highly recommend that you see it there!