You’ve probably seen and heard everything there needs to be known about this movie but if you haven’t, then it’s easy to say that this is probably the best mixtape of the 1980s to now of everything and anything you thought was cool. All that combined with the cinematic magician that is Steven Spielberg, and you have probably one of the best nostalgic movies that could even come close to breaking that video game movie curse (but don’t count on it).
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Ready Player One is based on a science fiction novel written by Ernest Cline in 2011. Now, you could look into the movie’s source material for references and the experience but given how both mediums drastically vary from one another, it is best to go with one and enjoy it as its own thing rather than compare the two, trust me. I went in blind without reading the book itself and surprisingly, it was what it was and you can judge me for that.
You start off in the dystopia times of 2044 with our protagonist, Wade Watts – a teenager who escapes into the virtual world of OASIS, along with the rest of the world, to live out their lives as their favourite avatars and take on video game adventures to be rewarded in coins. They put on their gear, much like the VR Headsets you see people ridiculously wear these days, and spend hours to days in this virtual world to gain coins which equals to wealth in the real world as well.
All this was made by a genius named James Donovan Halliday who left his legacy in the OASIS as well as the potential ownership of it as a form of ‘easter egg’. Think of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (minus the Oompa Loompas) but for a worldwide video game where you can meet, compete and live with everyone in the world as whoever you want to be – Tracer from Overwatch, one of the Battletoads, a Street Fighter, or even Master Chief from Halo.
The story grows from there as the protagonist ventures through the trial life of the OASIS’ creator with his online friends but sadly, this is all an escape from the depressive and morbid state of the real world. And though this visualisation makes for great storytelling, you can’t help but feel how close to home that fact gets when you see today’s people, especially gamers such as myself, inch closer and closer to living in a fake world, meeting ‘real’ people and engaging for non-existent accomplishments.
Spielberg does what he is best known for and that is transporting you into this magical world with ease. You’ll find yourself spotting cameos of your favourite video game characters, movie scenes, pop culture references and even music from a time when everything was so good. There was one scene in a club where they had Blue Monday by New Order playing in the background and I was just so engrossed with that track the entire time. You can’t help but groove to it and I’m sure there’s bound to be one you’d enjoy in this movie too, unless you’re a millennial then sorry kiddo, you missed out!
The third act of the movie is probably where all the movie’s strengths can be found. The galore in a menagerie of characters just avalanching into you just has a way of exploding your fandoms – leaving you pumped full of adrenaline, tickling your inner fanboy/girl and ultimately leaving you laughing with joy.
The scenes of this movie played a well balance between the real world and the OASIS, it was nearly seamless. There will be times when your eyes will be busy spotting a character you know or a piece of a movie you know of. I laughed with my nephew when I saw Blanka dancing with Chun-Li but he couldn’t quite relate to me when I was going nuts at the ‘Re-Elect Mayor Goldie Wilson’ flyer or hearing the sound of a M41A Pulse Rifle go off in a scene. There is so much to see and that somewhat comes off as a good and bad thing because, you want to focus on the main story but it does drag at certain times and at times you find these trivial cameos more interesting.
It’s a fun yet distracting situation to be in as an audience which might make a second or third viewing of this movie a more satisfying experience.
Ready Player One is a pop culture packed adventure that everyone is bound to be familiar with and is promised to be a fun experience just like any other videogame. The scenes are spectacular with a pace moderate enough to keep eyeing for the next face or trivia you grew up with.
All this fun sadly overshadows one important thing and that’s the characters, the REAL life characters that seem to somewhat be seconded behind all this nostalgia power. The cast did a great job at carrying the story and in delivering the whims of comedy but I can’t seem to relate or feel for the characters in the early parts of the film. It felt like I barely knew Wade, what more of Aech and Art3mis in the first act when you have the Delorean, a T-Rex and King Kong shoved into your face.
This movie is undoubtedly a more adult orientated Wreck-It Ralph, targeting 80’s and 90’s (now, BIG) kids. It is an exciting addition to this year’s line up of movies and one that should not be missed especially since Spielberg is known for being one of the last few directors in Hollywood who is able to deliver such a wonder and awe into his movies that many can’t even achieve today.
Ready Player One – 8/10