READY PLAYER ONE [Review]: Aiming to ‘1-Up’ the Box Office.
For those who haven’t read the book, Ready Player One is the story of a dystopian future in which the world has found escape in the elaborate virtual reality known as OASIS. It’s in James Halliday’s creation where most of the story takes place, as you follow Wade Watts’s (Tye Sheridan) quest to win a massive fortune and total control; all he’s gotta do is find 3 keys to unlock the game’s final easter egg before the evil IOI corporation.
Now for those who have read the book, like yours truly, this is the point where the novel and the movie start to differ. While Wade’s avatar, Parzival, and his friends do still have to solve and complete 3 separate challenges in order to obtain the keys, the challenges themselves are totally different. And, hey–no lie–I’m 100% OK with due to the awe-inspiring CGI and effects the new challenges Steven Spielberg chose to insert into the movie instead. I mean, who wants to watch someone play Pac-Man for 6-hours when you can watch King Kong chase a Delorian past a T-Rex?
Yup, it’s that kinda movie.
As promised there’s a plethora of 80’s pop culture and nerd references from start to finish but they are done in such a way that EVERYONE–regardless of their geek gaming level or age–will enjoy it. There’s a little something for everyone to enjoy here. I’m an Atari owning, Ah-Ha loving, 80’s baby and it was impossible for me to spot all the easter eggs that were constantly popping up on the screen. There’s simply no way you could see all there is in this jam-packed love letter to the 1980’s in one sitting, but, my gawd, was it fun trying.
I can’t recall the last time I watched a movie that made me this happy. Without a doubt, Spielberg’s version of the OASIS is gorgeous and somehow still not so much over-the-top that you feel like you’re watching a cartoon the entire time. Credit to the actors as well, who do a more than admirable, if not amazing job bringing their avatars to life. In particular Lena Waithe‘s hilarious version of Wade’s virtual bff, Aech, is beyond fantastic and unsurprisingly the fan favorite of the film. Her role during the second key challenge will have you dying. Getting to see her and the other egg hunters — Art3mis, Daito and especially Sho’s adorable ass — interacting in the real world was a huge change from the books and all the while extremely entertaining.
Truth be told, Ready Player One‘s characters were as delightful to witness as the stunning effects, with each having their indivdual moments to shine. From Ben Mendelsohn‘s portrayal of douchebag extraordinaire, Nolan Sorrento, to Mark Rylance‘s loveable version of James Halliday, most of the films choices were fantastic. The only exception is the romance angle between Wade and Olivia Cooke‘s Art3mis, which felt more uncomfortably awkward than endearing. While I enjoyed their moments of synergy together in the OASIS, things felt forced once they returned to the real world.
So whether you read the novel or not, fans of the 80s culture and classic gaming in particular will find everything they ever hoped for and then some with Ready Player One. Yes, I’ll be that asshole and admit that the book had more intriguing character stories and layered themes, but that’s what happens when you have to condense a 400-page novel into a 2-hour flick. Sacrifices were made, but overall execution of the movie was absolutely awesome. I couldn’t help but feel my face hurt from all the smiling. So if you want to see Chun-Li, Mecha-Godzilla, Marvin the Martian and the motha fuckin’ Batmobile in the same movie, look nowhere else. 4.75/5 Bibles.
Warner Bros.’ Ready Player One is in theaters everywhere on March 29th.