Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel Ready Player One is something of a nostalgia trip for children of a certain age. It created a world of nostalgic pop culture iconography come alive for a second time especially with those of a nerdy persuasion during the 1980s. It’s translation to film with Steven Spielberg at the helm manages to be a solidly entertaining package covering moments that are saccharine, cliche and dull.
The year is 2045 and almost everyone escapes the depressing circumstances in a virtual world known as ‘The Oasis’. The creator of ‘The Oasis’ upon his death started a quest for the ownership of the virtual world. While an evil corporation lines up to take over the world it is Parzival /Wade and his friends that must break the clues of pop culture past to win the contest.
Ready Player One is a visual delight of a film. It is a series of solid action pieces that range from car chases and races, haunted houses, fight sequences and warring battleground. It is for once a playground of computer-generated wizardry that is allowed to be fake by choice rather than hoping an audience would ignore it. It’s also helpful that Steven Spielberg is a master of making said set pieces. It’s a technical skill that is beyond my explanation but the difference between him and whoever directing the latest Rock film is tangible.
It is can be strangely overwhelming though. A lot of activity and pop culture reference bombard the viewer. Strangely it’s not the use of constant pop references that id distracting. Usually, these very overt easter eggs just pass you by and even sometimes, like the hotel from The Shining are used to truly great effect. But it’s often too busy and would require multiple viewings to truly appreciate. It’s not necessarily a story that demands the needed viewings to appreciate it.
This is partly because the ‘real world’ aspects of the story are far less compelling. It’s only in the final act as the action in both worlds becomes of consequence that you truly engage with it. Yet it’s probably more than just the real world problem that hampers the story. If you think about Ready Player One is just Charlie and the Chocolate Factory retold for a modern audience. It’s filled with emotional cliche throughout from risking it all for love, never judging a book by its cover and sometimes it’s better to go outside and experience the real world. All those ‘morals of the story’ are hammered into the audience throughout it.
Still, solid casting helps to breathe some life into the cliche. Actor approaches it all with a fun attitude yet with conviction in the premise. Highlights include the absurd TJ Miller and the completely underrated Olivia Cooke who provides an emotional core that is necessarily generated by the script.
Ready Player One Review Cheat Sheet
Ready Player One is a solidly entertaining action movie with a genuine excitement and rather than being a slave to the nostalgia of its premise embraces it with creativity. Its talented cast works hard to hide away the cliche and humdrum of reality found in the film without success. Yet in the end, it’s a lot of fun and worth a watch.
+ Interesting use of nostalgia.
+Brilliant and exciting set pieces.
– Boring ‘real world’ antics.