FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Ready Player One (2018)
I’m a Kendall Richardson and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is Ready Player One…
2018 is the perfect year for Ready Player One to be released. It contains so many of the things about current pop culture and technology we are excited about, and also rides the nostalgia wave quite successfully. When you think about it, this futuristic version of our lives does not really seem that farfetched or far away, for that matter. The quality and popularity of gaming is at an all-time high, and virtual reality headsets are becoming commonplace in electronic stores worldwide—a prime example of science fiction becoming fact.
Ready Player One is directed by non-other than the legend that is Steven Spielberg, and based on what some refer to as a pop culture bible, author Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, which was published in 2011. Sadly, I have not had the fortune of reading the book yet, but from what I’ve been told, Spielberg, screenwriter Zak Penn, and Cline (who also contributed to the screenplay) collaboratively made several changes to the source material when adapting it for the big screen. I have also been told that whilst these changes are radically different, they do not in any way ruin the book or the film, which is a rare thing when it comes to film adaptations that take the risk of making great changes. It obviously helped to have Cline working on the script.
The film follows our protagonist Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a young man living in ‘The Stacks’ of Cleveland, Ohio. In reality, he is just an ordinary guy, living with his aunt (Susan Lynch), trying to get by. But in virtual reality, he assumes the avatar of Parzival, a CGI character that looks like a Final Fantasy and Dragon Ball Z love child. The premise of the film states that the creator of this virtual reality world known as the OASIS, has passed away, and has come up with a rather clever and challenging way to pass on his legacy and his company. There are three tasks that must be completed within the OASIS to obtain three keys. Once you have all three, you can unlock a door that leads to what he has so appropriately titled an Easter Egg (because this movie is full of them). Whoever reaches the Easter Egg first shall be granted total control of the OASIS and all of creator James Halliday’s assets.
Ready Player One is just as fun as it sounds, and the trailers did a perfect job of selling to you exactly what the film was going to be like without ruining too much of its plot. The visual effects are of course off the charts, and they had to be in order to sell the OASIS to the viewer convincingly. But the amount of pop culture references and yes, Easter eggs, in this film is just insane. Parzival races in non-other than the DeLorean from Back to the Future, there’s Jurassic Park’s T-Rex and the mighty King Kong chasing you down. There is a glorious, and my favourite part of the movie, homage to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, where our main characters spend some time in the infamous Overlook Hotel, and it is just beautifully done. There’s also a bunch of gaming references, so if you are a gamer, you will fall in love with this movie. And then there’s Batman, Harley Quinn, Freddie Krueger, and the Iron Giant just to name a few.
And to top it off, adding to the nostalgia kick, is the super cool ‘80s-heavy soundtrack—the movie opens with Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ and it only gets better from there. The performances from the relatively unknown cast are really wonderful and endearing; it’s good to see some new names popping up in such a big film like this. Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn brings it as the film’s antagonist Sorrento, leader of rival company IOI, and Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg, who play the creators of the OASIS James Halliday and Ogden Morrow respectively, are lovely to watch every time they appear on screen.
So happy to say that Spielberg has done it again, giving us a really fun adventure film, which is right in his wheelhouse, and will surely become a part of the iconic films he is celebrated for. 4½ / 5
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, Susan Lynch.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Producers: Steven Spielberg, Donald De Line, Dan Farah, Kristie Macosko Krieger | Writers: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline (based on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline) | Music: Alan Silvestri | Cinematographer: Janusz Kamiński | Editors: Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar
In cinemas now.
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