The 80’s video inspired book, which sees the world attached to a virtual reality headset and living their lives through he means of video games, has been in the works by director Steven Spielberg for some time now, but finally we have the final film and my is it almost perfect!
So, what is Ready Player One, well the book takes place in the 2040’s where the world is addicted and lived through the Oasis, a virtual reality place filled with worlds upon worlds of video games and anything else you can think of. The creator, Halliday, passed away leaving Easter eggs in the form of 3 keys in which when collected that person wins a bunch of money plus has total control over the Oasis. Everyone’s spent years trying to find it but it’s Wade Watts who unlocks the first game, winning the first key which sparks a race to the finish line.
Slightly complicated at first and the film does take some time trying to explain its background before really getting into the film, but it does a good job in doing so at Spielberg’s hand. We open with the history of the Oasis as we travel through various worlds including a brief action sequence of gamers.
With Watts unlocking the first key, it’s up to him and his friends to complete the quest to gain all three and complete the final quest before typical evil corporation IOI, led by Ben Mendleson, attempts to do the same so they can rule over the Oasis themselves and form their own creations.
What we come to see this film for is the references and visual aesthetics at the end of the day, and my do they not let you down. Visually the film is stunning having spent majority in the Oasis seeing 3D modelled characters moving smoothly as if playing a video game. The opening itself leading through the Oasis and the worlds just shows what’s in store and that you won’t be disappointed by it either.
As for references, the book is heavily 80’s orientated focusing on movies and music to streamline this with the premise that creator Halliday was also obsessed with the 80’s but of course it has a massive pop culture defence pack by the side of it from TV, film and of course video games. I mean, you can’t help but shout out what you see as I say gazing seeing Halo Spartans trench the battle field, Chucky bouncing around, Harley Quinn being someone’s avatar, a Gundam and of course the DeLorean being used by Wade throughout the film all of which be perfectly identical to how we remember each. I’m sure at one point I shouted out Serenity as we saw Joss Whedon’s Serenity ship from TV series Firefly briefly enter frame. My head was fried because it’ll take multiple watches.
Character wise it feels where the film slightly takes a backseat with as we don’t have a lot to work with. Mendleson plays the evil bad guy and plays it how it’s been done a million times before, Tye Sheridan plays Wade and brings a somewhat 80’s character point to play as if you’re watching The Breakfast Club it Ferris Bueller at Work and of course goes the same for Olivia Cooke’s Artemis, the love interest and all round badass throughout the film. The films split with Oasis time and real world and it feels the real world somewhat lays flat and is underdeveloped, to the point you’re begging to go back to the Oasis to look at the pretty ness of it all.
Spielberg was a king in the 80’s and 90’s and he’s made this film feel like a throwback to that, even stylising the characters, camera work and comedy in fact to that form back then making it really feel like something special. In fact comedy wise, the film isn’t overly filled with it except stand out characters like TJ Millers I Rok who has consistent quips to make through any appearance.
Sadly though you won’t see anything Star Wars related in Ready Player One, plenty of references but nothing visual. What you will see is plenty of DC comic characters with Mendleson’s Avatar having a distinct Superman appearance, plus as mentioned Harley Quinn, Deathstroke, Joker and Batman, lots and lots of Batman but Spielberg does get in his Jurassic Park T-Rex in a fun race sequence.
My final point is don’t go in expecting the book if you’ve gave it a read already. It doesn’t play out page to page with some minor and also major changes throughout. The books understandably filled with just too much to cram in a 2-hour film so changes had to be made such as the first key being a race to the finish line, the film being re-enacted being The Shining and not War Games, however I much prefer the film version to that one. Plus changes to the final battle sequence which takes place, which did feel somewhat weak being it moves too fast to notice who’s doing and what and is over before you know it.
I absolutely loved Ready Player One and I was really hesitant on how this would be but it works perfectly to the point I sort of want more and probably would have been happy with the book being transformed into a sequel of films instead. If you get a chance the film is a must see!