“Ready Player One” is directed by Steven Spielberg and it’s based off of a book of the same name, written in 2011. It stars Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts, an eighteen year old living on the now decrepit Earth in the year 2045 and he, like many other people, escape their horrible lives on Earth by means of a virtual reality program in which they enter a world known as the OASIS. A contest is set up for players to find certain clues and Easter eggs within the OASIS and now Wade sets out to across this virtual reality world to find said clues and win complete ownership of the OASIS.
In all honesty, I wasn’t terrible excited for this movie. I’ve never read the book and I simply wasn’t won over by any of the trailers. All of the advertising for this movie seemed to rely solely on the numerous pop culture references, but there was never any proper context given to them. It just looked like a random mishmash of iconic imagery that we all know, but nothing more. But I was still willing to give it the benefit of the doubt since it’s directed by none other than Spielberg himself and now we have ourselves a surprisingly fun time at the movies.
Tye Sheridan makes for a likable lead performance as Wade and more importantly, he’s a good surrogate character for the audience. We experience everything the same way he does and his believability in the role plays a big part in why this world of the OASIS is so awe-inspiring to watch as we learn more about it. Alongside him in supporting roles are the likes of Olivia Cooke, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance, all of whom are solid in their respective roles, but then there’s also the film’s antagonist played by Ben Mendelsohn in an over-the-top performance that’s suitable for his character and the type of world that he’s in. The best part is that these actors are all working under the helm of Spielberg, an actor’s director if ever there was one.
As far as seeing the OASIS, it’s great to watch. Yes, there’s many pop culture references for anyone to recognize and appreciate, but the movie doesn’t just stop its story so you can gawk at famous imagery. The movie keeps going at a fluid pace, enough to where you’ll be able to pick up on any notable Easter eggs from famous movies and video games but also stay focused on how the film is progressing. It would’ve been so easy for Spielberg to just throw in pop culture icons and leave it at that so we can mindlessly clap our hands and say “I understand that reference!” but he takes the route of making the various references fit in with the world-building and make it all relevant.
Playing into that is the overall visual style of the film, one that’s handled masterfully by Spielberg. As a director, Spielberg has perfected all sorts of cinematic techniques and structures and that’s very much on display in this film. The action sequences are filmed with complete crispness as shots are left to linger so that you can fully appreciate what you’re watching and simple scenes of characters talking are framed and blocked very well, the overall filming just coming off as very fluid. This is a film that clearly has care and thought put into it and Spielberg is still able to make it look easy.
This movie does also have an interesting social commentary on the current state of fandom and what’s also been referred to as “nerd culture”. But not only that, there’s a commentary on how people are in this ever-growing world of technological advancements and how there’s now a heavy emphasis on one’s whole life being built around this superior technology. It’s actually done in a very unique way and I once again have to praise Spielberg for implementing it.
My one issue with the movie comes in the third act. This is the only portion of the film when it becomes a bit too bloated for its own good, numerous things happening as it all builds to one big climax. A lot occurs onscreen and it starts to feel like too much, to the point where the movie drags and I began to feel its length of two hours and twenty minutes. The third act just feels overblown and it’s easily the least engaging part of the entire film.
Overall, I had a blast watching “Ready Player One”. It’s a grand, fun adventure that’s filmed beautifully by Spielberg and it’s nice to be able to watch a movie that is a technical marvel while also telling a story that’s both entertaining and genuine. I do recommend checking it out if you get the chance because it’s not very often that fun sci-fi romps like this are made.
Rating: Full Price!