Ready Player One
Director: Stephen Spieilberg
Written by: Zak Pen and Ernest Cline (screenplay) based on the novel by Ernest Cline
Featuring: Tyler Sheriden, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe,
TJ Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance
In the year 2045, life is harsh an unfair to the extreme, the only place where the realities of the average person’s existence can be forgotten about is the OASIS. OASIS, is an immersive virtual universe where people spend too long losing themselves in world better than the one they live in. It was created by the eccentric genius James Halliday who left his complete wealth and total control of the Oasis to the winner of a contest that he designed. Wade is one of a group of people in Oasis who has not given up trying to win the contest, when all others have given up, one day he conquers the challenge and the instant fame and notoriety leads him and his friends into an adventure that gets to the heart of OASIS and the reasons for its existence.
Having never read the novel and only seen a few reviews of Ready Player One so I went into the film with no idea what to expect.
I’ll say from the start as a slightly dull, fifty-six year old man with a grey beard I find the current trend for nostalgia-porn dull in itself. Naval gazing and eulogising about the glorious past leaves me cold. I was eighteen in 1980 and it was not fantastic nor was it ‘crap’ it was just a time. Some of the music was good, some was awful, some films were great, some were dross – do you know what? Just like now.
The acting in this film is good with Olivia Cooke once again showing why she is getting picked for roles left right and centre, and none of the vocal-fry that irritated me so much in TV’s Vanity Fair. Tyler Sheriden is believable and sympathetic and very ‘normal’ for the role of ‘hero’ likewise the supporting roles – all are believable ‘video gamers’. It would be too easy not to miss the target of the video gamers avatar and what the real person is like and this film hammers that to the hilt – like I said it was too easy a target. The baddy, played with some lovely scenery chewing, by Ben Mendelsohn, seems to exist to be bad, his motive, like so many films, is just to be corporate greedy. I understand this trope and there is some truth in it but it would be nice to see some nuance from time to time.
The film moves along at an exciting pace and certainly has some great visuals of the near future and it was fun for ten minutes, when in the OASIS, to see which ‘characters’ and pieces of nostalgia you can spot but like so many modern blockbusters we do end up with hugely confusing set-pieces of explosions, impossible derring-do escapes and confusing pyrotechnics. This type of action must be for the younger generation because in every film I ever seen featuring these ‘exciting’ battle and set pieces I usually get bored and confused. Near the end of Ready Player One I had no idea what was going on and ended seeing how many repeated place-holder creatures were popping in the scenes – they are there too.
Certainly, as film, I don’t know the book, Ready Player One seems to be a blatant nostalgia-fest with constant references both oblique and obvious but this to me is the real reason for its existence, the story is fairly simple, made to appeal to the video-game generation but nothing that you have not seen here or there. The trouble is when I see Robo Cop for a fleeting second it makes me want to the original Robo Cop and not Ready Player One. For me that is biggest problem of Ready Player One, from time-to-time it reminded me of better films I had not seen for a while.
All in all, it is a well-made film, and well-acted, with some stunning visuals and rip-roaring storyline but on the negative side it is not as original as it thinks it is, it wallows in nostalgia, loves exposition and can be confusing at times, especially near the end with the battles and set pieces.
Ready Player One is okay but I won’t be watching it again in thirty-years time.