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‘Ready Player One’: A movie review

Photo courtesy of FLICKR

“Ready Player One” takes place in the dystopian future of 2044: the Earth is polluted, overpopulated and downright miserable. Due to this horrible future that humanity lives in, they seek an escape. That escape comes in the form of “The Oasis,” a virtual reality free-roaming video game where there is essentially no limit to what the player can do within it. In 2040, the founder of The Oasis, James Halliday (Mark Rylance) dies and states in a farewell video that he has left three keys throughout The Oasis, and that these three keys unlock an Easter egg within the game. The player that finds it wins his fortune: half a trillion dollars-worth of Oasis stock and total control over The Oasis. The film follows teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and his friends,as they traverse The Oasis in search of these three keys in an attempt to give meaning and purpose to their dull lives.
In Wade’s quest to find each of the keys to Halliday’s Easter egg, he comes into competition with an evil corporation known as Innovative Online Industries, or as it is commonly referred to throughout the film, IOI. IOI is headed by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), who is an evil CEO who will stop at nothing to gain control of The Oasis.
IOI is one of the most comically maniacal villainous corporations that has existed in recent media. Nothing about this company is good. They are a stereotypical, villainous mega corporation whose only goal is to break necks and cash checks. This megacorporation is only rivaled in its negligence for the lives of others by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation from “Alien,” which is actually referenced in the movie. The audience is given no reason to sympathize with IOI at all, and that makes you hate them even more! There was no backstory for the suits of IOI detailing their own video game experience or why they want to control The Oasis. Instead, they are greedy and completely self-centered, devoid of any question-asking if they are in fact doing what is right for the world and for The Oasis.
As a kid who grew up playing violent video games and watching 80’s movies in my basement instead of playing sports or hanging out with friends, I can say with absolute certainty that I loved “Ready Player One.” I have not had this much fun with a movie in years! Steven Spielberg delivers his trademark magic to this film and the presence of familiar references helps connect with most audience members.
The character Wade lacks many personality traits other than the fact that he is supposed to be the protagonist, and while in a traditional sense this would be viewed as a flaw in the film, I believe that this is a genius move as it allows the audience to easily connect with Wade and view themselves as him.
If you are a film or video game buff then you will have a plethora of excitement from pointing out all of the numerous references alone! This seems like the kind of movie that even fifty years from now people will still be finding hidden references to various movies, videogames,and books! Within the first 10 minutes, there are already references to “Back to the Future,” “Jurassic Park” and “King Kong.”
While I loved this movie, it had its fair share of issues, none of which ruined the movie. One thing that I didn’t enjoy was the real, non-virtual world. Every time the film left The Oasis and went back to the real world, there was a desire inside me for the movie to get back to the events unfolding within The Oasis. I wouldn’t call this so much of an issue but more a necessary problem, as it actually increased my desire and enjoyment of the scenes from The Oasis. The blandness of the non-virtual world also conveys why people play in The Oasis — The real world sucks for them! I’m sure this was an intentional move by Spielberg in order to make The Oasis all the more magical, but it is unfortunate because the scenes that take place in the real world, with the exception of the scenes within the IOI headquarters, do chip away at some of the enjoyability of the movie. However, as stated previously, the drabness of these scenes make the scenes within The Oasis all the more special.
Another problem that the film faces is that it has a lack of character development. Characters like Wade, Artemis, and the evil Sorrento have moving character arcs, however, the film introduces too many characters within the physical world and it doesn’t seem to know what to do with them when they’re not playing within The Oasis. The problem with introducing so many characters from The Oasis into the real world is that they are literally two different people. We grow to know these characters within The Oasis, but when we are introduced to them in the real world, we have to relearn who they are. This definitely bogs down character development. At the end of their movie, their character arc feels unearned.
The character Gunter is an ogre-ish looking creature within The Oasis and he is extremely charismatic and fun to watch, yet within the physical world, the character lacks the same type of charisma that it possessed in The Oasis. Two other characters, Sho and Daito, are barely introduced in The Oasis, and when they are finally introduced in the physical world, their presence feels misplaced, and while it doesn’t bog down the story, their presence within the physical world feels somewhat awkward and unnecessary.
Despite all of the character problems that “Ready Player One” had, I still loved this movie! It is the perfect example of what movies should be: fun!
The stand out character from this movie is not any of the main characters, but the founder of The Oasis, James Halliday, played by Mark Rylance. Rylance turns Halliday into a mixture of both Sheldon Cooper and Steve Jobs, with a touch of “Weird Al” Yankovic. Without giving away any spoilers, what’s so compelling about the character of Halliday, is that you can see within his eyes that he is a man who has everything, such as money and fame, yet he is unhappy with his life.
Rylance portrays Halliday as having a certain personality or developmental disorder, and this was possibly the most accurate part of his portrayal. The characters within the book speculate whether or not Halliday may have had a type of disorder, such as Asperger’s, and Rylance accurately portrays this as his character. Despite being a multi-billionaire, Halliday may be the most relatable character in the movie. If it were not for his limited screen time, I would suggest that it is likely that Mark Rylance will be at least nominated for an academy award for Best Supporting Actor.
In the end, “Ready Player One” reminded me why I watch movies and play videogames. Yes, I get to escape to a world that I have never been to before, but above all, I watch movies and play video games because they are fun. Everything about “Ready Player One” was fun! From spotting the numerous references to the exciting video-game like action that occurred throughout the film. I loved this movie! And though “Ready Player One” has its problems, I would give it four and a half stars out of five! If you want to make this movie experience even more special than it already should be, go see it with a friend that you grew up with, it will bring back so much nostalgia that you may even shed a tear.

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