Ready Player One (2018): A Visual Nostalgic Spectacle That is a Feast for Your Eyes and Not Much Else (Review)

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[Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
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Steven Spielberg’s latest movie Ready Player One is based on the 2011 novel by Ernest Cline. It follows the story of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) as he searches for a virtual reality treasure that would grant him a fortune. It seems to have been well-received by viewers, judging by Variety’s recent report of Ready Player One having earned more than $500 million around the globe. The film also stars Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance and is directed by the God of the Movies, Steven Spielberg. 

My Thoughts On The Characters And Story

The world is on the brink of chaos, and many of Earth’s cities have turned into massive slums. To escape this reality, people have found salvation in the virtual universe known as the Oasis. It was developed by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) as a place where people can be anything, and where the only limits are their imagination.

On his death day, the creator announced the existence of an Easter egg hidden somewhere in the vastness of the virtual world he created. The player who finds it will be rewarded with full ownership and control of the Oasis. The worldwide contest comprises of three challenges, which reveal more clues to the egg’s location. Since Halliday was a big 1980s geek, many aspects of the quests allude to the era. Wade Watts, who spent years searching for the egg, has just won the first challenge, and it’s this moment that sets the film in motion.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
For those that haven’t seen it yet, Ready Player One is filled to the brim with pop culture references. In fact, these references are the movie’s main attraction; everything else just feels secondary. If you’re a fan of any of the major films or video games from the ’80s, you’ll definitely enjoy Spielberg’s newest release.

But that’s also where the movie’s weakness lies. If you take away these pop culture figures and replace them with original characters, Ready Player One is not as memorable. You have to wonder if they’re just there to distract viewers from the glaring weaknesses of the film, including a rushed storyline and a generic young male protagonist.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
Sheridan is a good actor, and has embodied the role well. But the film doesn’t provide the viewer any other interesting sides of the character aside from the fact that he’s an awkward geek who occasionally rebels. To be fair though, that’s exactly how the source material’s character was written, too. Ernest Cline admitted that Wade Watts is an embodiment of himself as a teenager whose brain is filled with ’80s pop culture trivia.

Sheridan shares the screen with his female lead, Olivia Cooke, who plays Samantha Cook. Prior to her role in Ready Player One, she appeared in one of my favourite A&E shows, Bates Motel and horror flick Ouija. Considering the two leads are somewhat newbies, they gave decent performances. It’s just too bad their romance isn’t believable. Let’s just say the film did not take the time to develop it further.

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[Credit: Warner Bros.]
Ready Player One is essentially about these characters moving from one challenge to the next. The villain takes the form of a whole corporation called the IOI, which wants the egg in order to monetize the Oasis. If anything, the film could have further explored the consequences of a world succumbing to virtual reality to have more substance, but it wastes no time on heavy themes. At its heart, Ready Player One is a simple fun movie that celebrates a specific era. And for many, that works! Of course, if you’re searching for something more, prepare to be disappointed.

How were the Other Aspects of Ready Player One?

A film that banks on nostalgia should feature a killer soundtrack, and thankfully, Ready Player One obliges. Songs from the likes of Prince, Tears for Fears, and Bruce Springsteen blast through the film’s sequences.

It’s also a visual treat, as it indulges in a variety of graphics that pay tribute to particular franchises, including The Shining and Back to the Future. Sometimes, it can get flashy and other times, it can become scary. The bottom line is that there’s no dull moment on screen.

ready player one title gif
[Credit: Warner Bros.]

If you’re looking for a film that lets you geek on out ’80s pop culture, be sure to check out Ready Player One.

Ready Player One receives 3/5 Matt Damon heads.

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featured image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Were you a fan of the film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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