Imagine a kid in the middle of their room playing with a wide variety of action figures. They’re bashing them together, doesn’t matter what world, universe, or dimension they’re from, it’s an all-out war. Now, imagine Steven Spielberg being that kid and the action figures represent every possible pop culture property ever created. You’re ready to jump into Ready Player One.
Based on the novel by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One follows Wade Watts, an avid gamer in the virtual space known as the OASIS. The OASIS contains virtually every possible game, world, and quite literally *anything* you’re imagination could think of. Set in the year 2045, the majority of humanity spends their time in this virtual paradise. The real world is a bleak, desolate shell of what planet Earth used to be, but no solid explanation is given as to how that happened. It’s a bit unfortunate that the film did not go into more background depth about how the Earth became borderline uninhabitable, and why people spend so much of their time in a virtual space.
After the famous creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, passed away, it’s revealed that he hid the ultimate Easter egg in the virtual world. The player must obtain three keys, all hidden behind complicated puzzles that can only be unlocked as you receive each key, in order to retrieve the egg. The first person to complete each puzzle and possess all the keys will receive Halliday’s majority share of OASIS, and thus, be king of the virtual dimension.
Sounds pretty easy, right? Solve a few puzzles, then make more money than you could possibly imagine? Not so fast. The puzzles that Halliday created are very in-depth and revolve around his own personal life. Not only must you be a skilled gamer, but you must also know your knowledge about Halliday and the creation of OASIS. Ready Player One does a tremendous job of presenting these challenges in ways that make the audience question themselves until they’re actually solved. I found myself thinking that I’d figured out the puzzle, but discovered that I would never have won any of the keys.
Ready Player One has a wonderful cast that work quite well together. I felt true chemistry between Tye Sheridan (Wade Watts) and Olivia Cooke (Samantha Cook) when they were working together in the OASIS to solve the challenges, as well as when the film switches back to reality. Ben Mendelsohn played an interesting villain in Nolan Sorrento; in a movie like this, it can be very easy to have a lackluster antagonist, but Mendelsohn’s Sorrento proves to be every bit of a bad guy in his attempt to obtain all three keys. Lena Waithe (Helen), Phillip Zhao (Sho), and Win Morisaki (Daito) gave quality performances that helped round out the supporting cast and made me truly care for all of the characters.
Since this film was released, it has been showered with praise by some and shrouded in disappointment by others. It seems that the people who had more issues with the film also read the novel, and it didn’t quite meet that bar of expectation. However, if you’re like me who didn’t read the novel, or someone who just enjoys an action-packed science-fiction film with more recognizable characters on screen than you can count, Ready Player One is excellent. The plot was sound, the cast all performed brilliantly, the CGI was well-done and the puzzles weren’t a waste of time. I wish the film did a better job with the overall narrative on the dreary state of the real world, and at times the film moved a bit too fast on screen to genuinely enjoy and appreciate all the amazing cameos. Regardless, Spielberg’s film is a wonderful ride and is a must-watch for fans of virtually anything.
Final Score: 8.5/10