Ready Player One – A Movie Review

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 ArkJurassic Park?  Yeah, he directed those.  What about these little ditties?  PoltergeistBack To the FutureThe GooniesGremlinsThe Money PitMen 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.

 

Ready Player One (2018)

(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Advertisements

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – A Book Review

When I heard Steven Spielberg planned to direct a film adaptation of this novel, I knew I had to read it first.

The premise is fascinating.  The year is 2044, and America has gone completely down the tubes.  The recession is in its third decade, there isn’t enough food, there’s not enough housing, there aren’t enough jobs – it’s bleak.

Luckily, there exists an open source virtual reality called Oasis.  In it, you can be anyone, and it’s literally a universe of possibilities.  That is where the majority of people spend their time, spend their money, and spend their lives.  It’s an escape from the every day world, a world with which less and less people care to interact.

Our protagonist, Wade Watts, is a teenager who excels in this video game world.  In the real world, well, he doesn’t have much going for him.  But in the VR world of the Oasis, he’s got great skill, even if not great means.

That is, until the Oasis creator, James Halliday, died.  He had no wife, no family, and no heirs, yet he had more money than virtually anyone on the planet.  As a lover of pop culture from his own childhood, especially the ’80s video games, Halliday left a puzzle within the Oasis, and whomever solves this puzzle first wins his entire wealth.  All of it.

Wade Watts knows he can do it.  He knows he can solve this impossible game embedded within thousands of VR worlds.  He knows he can overcome the thousands of other competitors.  The only question is, can he survive when some of these enemies come after him in the real world?  What happens when he deals with real killers?

If you grew up in the ’80s, you will love all the references in this book.  If you grew up as a gamer in the ’80s, this is probably a dream come true for you.  This is one of those rare books where I think the movie will surpass the novel because of the very visual virtual world it’s based within.  In one scene, you may have an X-Wing Fighter flying alongside the Enterprise with Voltron in the background.  It’s that insane because in this VR world of Halliday’s, there is no limit.  (Although I do have to wonder if copyrights will impede the movie at all …)

That’s not to say the book is perfect.  Even though it develops the plot both entertainingly and intricately, it ultimately falls a little flat at the end.  I won’t spoil anything, but it ends on a rather predictable note – it’s an ending we’ve seen before.  It will be perfect for Hollywood, don’t get me wrong, but for such an imaginative work to end on a bit of a cliche, well, I personally felt disappointed.

That’s not to say I don’t recommend the book – I do!  It offers an interesting glimpse into our potential future and doesn’t shy away from how people would probably use such a thing, which, in turn, is offering commentary about our obsession with technology even in the here and now.  It is generally well written, very descriptive, humorous, exciting, and fast-paced.  However, I think those inclined to ’80s pop culture and those passionate about video games will love it most.