Ready Player One follows Wade Watts a young uncool (yet seems quiet cool) teen who like millions of other people is addicted to the biggest online activity The Oasis. The Oasis is a virtual reality system that has allowed the human race to exceed the limits of their vastly overpopulated world and make a new life in this virtual one. Our main character is a Gunter a gamer obsessed with the creator of the Oasis James Halliday who in his dying breath left the world a challenge. Whoever becomes the first to find three keys (Copper, Jade and Diamond) will gain complete control of the Oasis. Now Wade and the rest of the world seek to find the keys and discover Halliday’s legacy.
The Oasis is clearly inspired by the advancements of virtual reality technology and as a gamer this concept is a intriguing. Being about to fully submerge yourself in another world is fascinating and if such a technology was perfected the whole world would flock to it similarly to that in the movie. A brilliant concept that helps to define the world these character live within but while this element is so strong the film uses it set up this world and little more. Rather than creating a world full of imagination and wonder this world is full with every other franchise that currently exists (Disney products excluded). While a few reference can be fun Ready Player One takes it to the next level with back to back scenes of reference, so many in fact that you could turn it into a game. Name the reference and it’s source material? This seems more entertaining than the movie, well the writers seemed the think so anyway. No matter the reason for this decision not having confidence in its own world takes away from any experience the character have which makes it difficult to enjoy this adventure.
The film sets itself in a broken world where humanities population is at an all time high and people are literally living in stacked caravans the size of skyscrapers, a great setting for any sci-fi adventure but this is merely a side note as the film chooses to focus on escaping life rather than dealing with a growing issue in our world. It is clear why this was done as they wanted to target the largest audiences and people don’t want to think at the movies but setting itself in a world with these glowing issues without truly exploring them feels lazy. The film if anything steers you away from these issues distracting you from any hard truths with big action sequences and tones of CGI. Mainstream audience want to be taken out of their lives for a few hours so I can see the decision to not focus too much on this aspect but this story would not exist without this world so you would think it would take some time to explore these issues but it is explained away in a few simple lines of dialogue and fails completely out of focus.
One of the more glowing issues is the films lack of structure, while for the most part in remains consistent during the second act there is a moment that seemingly jumps straight into the third act explaining away this transition with dialogue. While this is seamless to those not looking for it the film makes a habit of explaining away situations and moving its characters into new places without much explanation.
While film feels influenced by the 80’s it is clear that it has taken influence from our current culture and our obsession with reliving the past through remakes and sequels. The potential of this film is sadly lost amongst leaving the story almost as a backdrop that allows for endless references rather than a focus point. The film seems lazy while out of the Oasis and is dying to return to the virtual world. Ready Player One might disappoint in some areas but it does have lots of entertaining moments that sadly come from the huge number of references and not from its own creativity.
Dir: Steven Spielberg
Scr: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance
Prd: Donald De Line, Dan Farah, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg
DOP: Janusz Kaminski
Music: Alan Silvestri
Runtime: 140 mins