You’ll remember when I heard Steven Spielberg intended to direct this movie, I instantly ran out and read the source material. You can check out my review of the book HERE.
Let me say this about Spielberg’s film adaptation — I haven’t had a visual feast like Ready Player One since The Matrix.
I loved watching it.
It was just so fun. If you love pop culture, especially 80s pop culture, this is the movie for you. If you love gaming, this is the movie for you. if you love seamless special effects, this is the movie for you. If you love intricate, nuanced plot that is woven so taut that it’s airtight … maybe this isn’t for you.
Remember fun Spielberg movies? E.T.? Raiders Of the Lost Ark? Jurassic Park? Yeah, he directed those. What about these little ditties? Poltergeist? Back To the Future? The Goonies? Gremlins? The Money Pit? Men In Black? He produced those. Once upon a time, Spielberg made magical movies that influenced entire generations. In my opinion, Ready Player One is a return to vintage Spielberg.
Is it a little simpler than the book? Yeah, it’s fairly easily digestible if not always strictly logical. But, it’s well-acted by very likable actors and actresses. Ben Mendelsohn is always a charismatic bad guy who is hard to root against. Tye Sheridan is so much better than when he played Cyclops in the latest X-Men movie. I don’t know Olivia Cooke, but she was completely engaging. TJ Miller is always hilarious. Simon Pegg is, well, Simon Pegg, so he’s everyone’s favorite (obviously). Lena Waithe steals every scene she’s in. And Mark Rylance struck me as a guy who could influence an entire generation of gamers … Sound like someone you know?
But, the real star of this movie are the special effects. The CGI in Ready Player One somehow managed to look CGI on purpose, but it otherwise looked totally real. I’m not sure how to articulate this … You know how in some movies the CGI stands out against the rest of the scene? That doesn’t happen in Ready Player One. I know what you’re thinking — “Scott, the movie takes place in virtual reality, so … duh!” I know, you’re right, that makes total sense, except it doesn’t. When you see the avatars in the Oasis, they look so completely real … as digital avatars. Just see the movie and let me know what you think, okay?
Let’s be honest — this movie is also a hit because of all the references. I cannot WAIT to buy this thing on blu-ray so that I can hit pause every ten seconds and gawk at everything. In the Oasis, you can choose your avatar and base it off of anything you want. So, there are a ton of visual delights. Not as many as the book, but still, more than I actually expected.
I have one concern … and only one. I consider myself a pop culture junkie, and it concerns me that in TV, movies, comic books, even music, we’re getting a lot of referential story lines. For example, before Ready Player One we saw previews for Overboard and Ocean’s 8 — both of which are remakes or derivative. Tomb Raider was playing at our theater … you get the idea. As great as Ready Player One is, it would not exist without riding the glorious nostalgia of the vastly more original works with which it plays. Ready Player One even copies exact scenes from other movies. Terminator 2 anyone? While that’s totally fun, I do have to wonder if we’re producing anything new and original anymore …
Even with that being said, Ready Player One is magnificent. I had so much fun watching it. In fact, I can’t wait to go check it out in IMAX. If you enjoy gaming, vintage Spielberg, or 80s pop culture, this is the movie for you.
(Did you enjoy this review? Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)