Movie Review: Ready Player One
Ready Player One, based on the 2011 novel by Ernest Cline, has finally hit theaters after a successful opening at SXSW. The film is directed by the great Steven Spielberg and written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline. The film is set in 2045 where much of humanity uses a virtual reality software called the OASIS to escape their desolate reality. Tye Sheridan stars as the main protagonist, Wade Watts, and Ben Mendelsohn takes the stage as the primary villain, Nolan Sorrento. The supporting cast is also comprised of Olivia Cooke, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, and Lena Waithe.
The film opens with an introduction to Wade Watts (Sheridan) and the overall reality of the world in 2045. It also gives an introduction to the OASIS, where everyone escapes for work and play. Through this opening, Wade explains that the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday (Rylance), passed away several years before and planted an Easter egg in the OASIS. Whoever first finds all three keys to unlock the Easter egg will receive full ownership of the OASIS among other prizes. Wade is one of many people striving to unlock the keys, but he is also up against Innovative Online Industries (IOI), a video game conglomerate and manufacturer. As progress starts to be made in the quest, Wade and his friends find themselves in a race against IOI to gain control of the OASIS.
So, I’m just going to start out by saying that this movie was so much fun. I don’t really know when fun became such a dirty word in the world of film, but I choose to ignore it. This movie is a quest set in the world of virtual reality. It contains quite the adventure, and it genuinely was enjoyable to watch. The visuals are absolutely stunning, and all of the 80’s nostalgia and references make the film a treat to watch. Also, for the record, this is coming from someone who might have been born in the 1980’s but literally remembers nothing about that decade. Despite that, I still had moments of delight at the mention of John Hughes films and nuggets from Back to the Future. Also, the film keeps the adrenaline pumping as Wade and his friends encounter all of the challenges that come with searching for this Easter egg.
Underneath all the fun and excitement, though, is a story with a lot of heart. It might be set in the immersive, fantastical world of virtual reality, but at the end of the day, the movie is about the real world. I don’t want to ruin anything about the film, but as Wade and his friends embark on this journey and learn more about Halliday, the movie quickly becomes a story about connecting with one another. I think that Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke truly delivered on that point in their performances, and while Mark Rylance as Halliday was odd and a bit eccentric, he truly hit on the deeper message of the film. In true Spielberg fashion, the movie is not just about the grand adventure; there’s a lesson to be found and some truths to be unearthed. In looking back on the film, this is what made me enjoy the movie as much as I did.
At the end of the day, I think that Ready Player One is the kind of movie you want to experience in the theater. Seeing it on the big screen enhances the larger than life atmosphere, and it does justice to the gorgeous visuals found in the OASIS. I have seen some criticisms on the overall character development found in the film, and while I can agree with the comments, I don’t think it takes away from the enjoyment or impact of the story. This movie is packed with excitement and fun, and the cast do a great job throughout the entire film. If you are looking for a movie to catch in theater sometime soon, I think that Ready Player One is more than worth the price of admission.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.