Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe
Director: Steven Spielberg
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: In the year 2045, people can escape their harsh reality in the OASIS, an immersive virtual world where you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone-the only limits are your own imagination. OASIS creator James Halliday left his immense fortune and control of the Oasis to the winner of a contest designed to find a worthy heir. When unlikely hero Wade Watts conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends-known as the High Five-are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS and their world.
If you ever wanted to see all of your favorites characters from your childhood in one movie, then Ready Player One is the movie for you. This is one of the largest collaborations of characters from all different genres that I have ever seen. When you undertake such a massive project like this, the smallest mistake can upset the fans of multiple genres at once. Through the direction of Spielberg, a compelling story, and actors that accurately represent the actions that their characters would do, Ready Player One can satisfy even the most hardened fan through its homage to all things great in the past.
The film follows Wade Watts (Sheridan) as he ventures through the OASIS, a virtual reality universe, looking for the Easter Egg left by deceased creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance). The person who finds this Easter Egg will inherit Halliday’s fortune and have complete control over the OASIS. He teams up with his four friends Art3mis (Cooke), Aech (Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao), and Daito (Win Morisaki), as they navigate the OASIS and make sure that IOI CEO Nolan Sorrento (Mendelsohn) does not get control of the OASIS. This is the perfect type of film for Steven Spielberg to direct due to the amount of influence he has had in shaping the genre. Spielberg is obviously one of the people who helped created many of the blockbusters that were referenced in the film and helped create the mold for others to create after him, so his presence was perfect at making sure that the film paid respect to films of the past while also telling a coherent new story. Speaking of the story, Zak Penn and Ernest Cline wrote a compelling story that Spielberg was able to weave between the OASIS and reality. The real highlight of the movie is the second challenge that the characters go through. Even though it takes place in the OASIS, it is one of the few times it feels like the game they are playing is real. Combine this to an homage to one of the greatest directors of all time and we are given a plotline that parallels into real events. On top of this, the casting and mannerisms of the characters was absolutely spot on. Sheridan, Cooke, and Waithe thrive in their roles and represent hundreds of people who would love to live in the OASIS. Pair these characters with a strong and more than likely real villain in Sorrento and we get a reality that could very well happen in 30 years. The only main critique I have is that the pacing of the film is odd at times. This is the type of story that requires a massive amount of world building for the viewer, and the first act is built perfectly for us. In the second act however, is where the film takes a bit of a turn. Since the first act takes its time establishing the universe, much of the second and third act feel rushed to get to the end. Then all of a sudden, the third act slows down to wrap up the movie, as the final runtime ended at 140 minutes. It is strange to me that the film wants us to feel included in this magical world, then rushes us to the end, and then keeps at the end forever, as if to make us feel like we can never leave. Outside of that, combining all the previous strong points with a series of beautiful camerawork and colors makes Ready Player One an epic, incredible adventure.
Overall, Spielberg continues to live out his legacy of making fun, enjoyable films that anyone can watch. The man can do no wrong as he made another strong addition to his storied history of amazing films. While it may not be his best film in any one area, it certainly gave me the feeling of joy that I was looking to get from it. Sheridan and Cooke continue their rise of power as future stars in the film industry with Cooke adding another strong performance after March’s Thoroughbreds. This is the type of film that can teeter on the edge of mediocrity if done poorly, but since Spielberg was the one calling the shots, we never really had anything to worry about.
Overall Score: 7.5/10