Before Ready Player One began, we got a clip of director Steven Spielberg where he sincerely thanked us for watching his film. Oh wait – I’m thinking of something else, that didn’t happen. Apparently he was confident enough in his movie that he didn’t need to preface it with anything. And he’d be absolutely right – Ready Player one is fantastic. I loved the hell out of it. It’s one of the very few movies that lives up to its hype. Also it’s not a Sequel, a Prequel or a Reboot; it’s an adaptation on a book, which makes it practically original. Watching this film was a treat, from beginning to end, though I’m pretty sure I’m the exact target audience for me, so you might have to excuse me while I gush.
When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.
I just can’t say enough good things about this film. It was, of course, beautiful. There was just so much to see and it all came so fast. Not only were there some wonderful settings and characters, there was also a non-stop barrage of references and visual gags. I didn’t get half of these and I’m going to have to go back and watch it again to see what else I can pick up. The Oasis in Ready Player One is made of the pop-culture references of every conceivable fandom, which gives it a richness and depth that is nearly unbelievable. How did they get the rights to all these? I haven’t seen so many different franchises working together since Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
The casting/acting was also very good. You can’t just cast anybody, since most of the actual action takes place in the Oasis, you need strong voice actors in addition to physical presence. I really liked Tye Sheridan (though no fan service?) Ben Mendelsohn was a fabulously sleazy villain and T.J. Miller was hilarious. Olivia Cooke and Lena Waithe were also fantastic. But what really brought it home for me was Mark Rylance as Halliday, the creator of the Oasis. I don’t know if it was the writing for the character or just the actor, but I really felt him. I’ve known people like that (well, less successful but no less brilliant) and the portrayal really rang true.
The writing was very strong as well. I’m curious about the book to see how much of this was the author and how much of it was the film adaptation. It worked as a movie, the visuals and the action did what film did best, was the novel different? We knew what the characters wanted and how they intended to get it. The friendships were absolutely believable. And there were some magnificent Chekhov’s Guns; surprises cropped up that were cunningly laid earlier in the film. The pacing was a little strange, though. Not only was the movie a little too long – 2 hours 20 minutes, even if it felt way shorter, but it also milked its most suspenseful parts (he’s STILL getting the final, final goal. ALMOST THERE, this time for sure). By the time it was done, I was exhausted.
So is Ready Player One worth watching? Yes, god yes. I’ve seen some great movies already this year and this tops them all. There’s just so much to see. And the commentary on corporate culture and how it impacts the gaming community (and vice versa) is really on point. Like all truly great things, I find myself wanting more of this universe, so much so that I almost wish there was a sequel or some spin-offs or something. Interesting that Ready Player One used so much of old things that already existed but made something entirely new and fresh. Strange to have both nostalgia and curiosity at the same time.