Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Movie Review: "Ready Player One" (2018)

Director: Steven Spielberg
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

A few decades in the future, the majority of the world's people spend most their time in a virtual reality video game called the OASIS, where you can be anyone and do just about anything. After his death, James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, left in his will that he has hidden an Easter egg in the game consisting of three keys, and anyone who finds them will inherit his company.

Are you ready to find the keys to a virtual kingdom? (Image Source)
Pop Culture Nostalgia: The Movie! "Ready Player One" is directed by Steven Spielberg who has, of course, directed such classic films as "Jurassic Park," "E.T.," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The screenplay is written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline and is based on Cline's novel of the same name. The movie stars Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts who, like everyone else in the world, spends his time in a virtual reality video game called the OASIS where he dons an avatar and the screen name Parzival. Like many others, Wade is a Gunter who is on a quest to find three hidden easter eggs in the OASIS. After his death, the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), hid three keys within three hidden quests. The first person to find all of the keys and complete the final quest will inherit his company. Meanwhile, the evil corporate conglomerate known as IOI (Innovative Online Industries) wants to find the keys so they can take over the OASIS and modify it for their greater profit. They will stop at nothing to get their hands on them and spare no expense to do so. Also in the film are Ben Mendelsohn, Olivia Cooke, Lena Waithe, Win Morisaki, Philip Zhao, and Simon Pegg.
Be anything. Do anything. The OASIS is your playground. (Image Source)
It is curious that the marketing team for "Ready Player One" chose the song "Pure Imagination" for one of the movie's trailers, not just because the OASIS is a world of pure fantastical virtual paradise, but because its general plot is eerily similar to the one found in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"/"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." The only major difference is that the final prize involves winning a video game company rather than a chocolate factory. The movie revolves around five younger people vying to find the keys to this online kingdom, only this time, none of the children are rotten little snots. The villain here is IOI, and the man who runs it is Ben Mendleson's Slugworth, oops, we mean Sorrento. All of this makes sense considering the movie and the book it was based on are homages to pop culture that was widely popular in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Ernest Cline made this book his own, and now, Steven Spielberg puts his own stamp on this sci-fi adventure.
Wade Watts entering the OASIS in an attempt to uncover Halliday's clues. (Image Source)
We can't deny that we had a blast while watching "Ready Player One," but just know that it is every bit as overloaded with nostalgia as you've heard (perhaps a little too much). It will garner easy smiles out of video game geeks and movie nerds like ourselves, but there's enough bullshit in the world, so why not let people smile for 2 hours and 20 minutes if they want to? Whether it's a central focus-point like "Back to Future," "The Iron Giant," or "King Kong," or whether it's something that just pops up for a moment in the background like "Battle Toads," "Mortal Kombat," Hello Kitty, Marvin the Martian, etc, these little details gave us warm and fuzzy feelings and fond memories. Even beyond the nostalgia, this is a very well made, entertaining movie that kept us engaged throughout its runtime despite being well over two hours in length. The visuals are absolutely breathtaking. It's hard to believe some of the stuff shown in this movie is fake, that's how good the CGI is. We also thought the acting is good all around. Lena Waithe's Aech was our favorite character, and she provides a lot of much needed comic relief to break up the time between memories. There are many moments of excitement and tension which Spielberg knows how to deliver really well at this point. Some viewers may not like the heavy-handed pander-hammer rekindlings of yesteryear, or that fact that the story is bit derivative, or that its runtime is long on the surface, but we enjoyed the movie as a whole despite these minor gripes.

**Did you know we have a podcast? Check out the episode where we discuss "Ready Player One" right here! Our review starts at 47:06!

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.0/10
RT Rating: ~76%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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