Ready Player One is a great tribute to pop culture and fandoms from Steven Spielberg, who’s etched his name permanently in the pop culture history, which will bring out a broad grin in the faces of all the nerds watching this movie. The film is a visual festival that is overall satisfying but does have flaws when looked at closely.
Ready Player One is set in the year 2045 where the Earth is so destroyed by environmental issues and overpopulation that most people are forced to live in ghettos. To escape their horrific reality, people spend most of their time in the OASIS, a virtual world where they have the free will to do whatever they want. The people can spend their time working and get a reward in the form of “coins” or just spend their time however they wish, exploring the depths of their imagination. James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the late creator of OASIS has hidden a game named Anorak’s Quest within the OASIS before his death which requires a person to find an Easter egg locked behind a gate which requires three keys to unlock. The winner of the Quest would get the complete control of OASIS and Halliday’s shares in his company.
Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a teenager from Columbus, who goes by his avatar Parzival inside the OASIS is one of the many Gunters (egg hunters) who are trying to solve the Anorak’s Quest along with the Sixers, an army of gamers under debt to IOI, an organization looking to take control of the OASIS, run by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). Parzival teams up with his friends Aech, Daito and Sho along with his romantic interest Art3mis, to solve the Quest and save OASIS from falling into the hands of Sorrento.
Adapted from the best selling novel of the same name by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One is quite a satisfying movie. From Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining to Bee Gees’s Stayin’ Alive, Ready Player One is chock-a-block with references from games, music, comics and movies. The movie’s pioneering achievement is of course the virtual reality world of the OASIS. Spielberg turns to motion capture again, after exploring this domain in The Adventure of Tintin and The BFG, to portray the visceral and visually fantastic world of the OASIS, which is where the maximum portion of the film is set. The VFX team at Industrial Light and Magic are brilliant in their rendition of the characters and certain sequences that would be impossible to shoot in a real-life scenario. The team will most likely give heavy competition in all the technical award categories in the coming award season, and rightfully so.
“The OASIS lets you be whoever you want to be. That’s why everyone is addicted to it.”
The OASIS is a metaphor for how trapped we are in the real world and we aren’t really the person that we want to be in reality and most people just put up a facade. So that’s why people were so addicted to the OASIS because they could be their true self there and chase their dreams, no matter if they are virtual, and remain anonymous so they didn’t have the fear of being judged or looked down upon.
Steven Spielberg, after spending years making a string of Oscar baits (Lincoln, Bridge of Spies, The Post) finally returns to the genre most attached to him, science fiction. He does a great job at telling this story very vividly and in a very simple fashion. He makes full use of the present technological advancements and the vast boundaries of his imagination to showcase the OASIS. Ernest Cline wrote the original screenplay for the film which went through a rewrite by Zac Penn (who also wrote the screenplay for X Men: The Last Stand) to make some changes from the book. Spielberg turns to Alan Silvestri for this score as his long-term collaborator John Williams was busy scoring his other film, The Post. In a film filled with songs from the 80s and 90’s, Silvestri’s music is forgettable.
Mark Rylance, in his third collaboration with Spielberg in the last four years, is brilliant as James Halliday (except for the weird part where he is also trying to portray being younger by wearing a wig and that looks plain odd). Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke did a good job in their respective lead roles, with Philip Zhao (Sho), Win Morisaki (Daito) and Lena Waithe (Aech) completing the “High Five”. By now, we already know that Ben Mendelsohn can absolutely pull off an antagonist and he does that again with ease in this film. Simon Pegg rounds off the main cast playing the character of Ogden Morrow, Halliday’s partner in creating the OASIS.
But, Ready Player One isn’t a film without flaws. The scriptwriting is on the weaker side. While the first half of the film built up the world very well, the film was pretty all over the place in the second half and felt too rushed. Too much information was tried to cramp in a small span of time in the middle with continuous and abrupt switching between the reality and the OASIS. It does pick up well in the climax again to provide a deservingly good finish to the movie. Ready Player One is definitely a good watch, and a great watch if you want to get stunned by visuals. You might even go see it more than once if you are interested in figuring out every single one of the pop culture references from Batman to Back to The Future.
“as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness.”
Ready Player One explores one of the major things that we should be paying attention to – Reality. In a setting like the present age, except the people are more obsessed with the virtual, Ready Player One tells us how important it is for us to never lose touch with reality and to never forget who we are because, at the end of the day, the reality is actually real, no matter how hard it might be. So like they say in the film, it is truly the only place where you can find true happiness.
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An aspiring programmer by passion, Tuhin is a serial procrastinator and is occupied with three M’s – Movies, Music and Manchester United. He is obsessed with the use of colour in films, something he pours out more often than not on his Facebook page.