There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Ready Player One
It is the year 2045 and society has become reliant on a software called OASIS, an incredibly immersive virtual reality video game. The possibilities within the game are endless, and players can become entirely new people and live their fantasy lives. Although it was originally designed as a game, much of the world’s society uses the software as their primary mode of existence (only leaving the virtual reality to eat and sleep). Sadly, the software’s revered creator, Halliday (Mark Rylance), has dead, but he did not leave this world without making a final contribution to OASIS. Before dying, he recorded a video announcing an Easter egg that he had hidden within the game. Halliday has hidden three keys within the virtual universe.
The first player to get all three keys, and unlock the gate they correspond to, will receive the Easter egg, and with the Easter egg, the player will receive a vast amount of real world money, as well as full ownership of OASIS. The first key—as well as a clue to the second—will be awarded to the player who wins a challenging car race. The race is takes place regularly, but after a few years, no player has been able to even finish—let alone win it. Most casual players have stopped trying, but a big corporation—known as the IOI—has hired hundreds of players to get the Easter egg, so that the CEO can take full ownership of OASIS to use for his own gain. After many failed attempts, a young player known as Parzival (Tya Sheridan) has finally discovered a secret to winning the race. With this secret, the first key very well may be his, but this will not go unnoticed by the IOI.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Premise & The Plot (+10pts)
The Clues (-3pts)
Parzival & Art3mis (+6pts)
Side Characters (-3pts)
The Properties (+5pts)
Sorrento & I-R0k (-2pts)
Pro: The Premise & The Plot (+10pts)
I really enjoyed the premise and the plot for Ready Player One. To start, I liked the premise of a virtual reality game making up the majority of humanity’s day-to-day lives. It was an interesting look at a possible future for our society. The movie was making an exaggerated prediction of what our world could look like in thirty years, while also commenting on how reliant we already are on technology and social media today. It also showed that—whether it be phones, video games, movies, books, etc.—many of us are just looking for an escape, and OASIS was a fantastic representation of that.
The plot was also a lot of fun. It was a typical competition storyline, but it had a fun adventure vibe to it. It was a fun story, and I liked the fact that the whole competition was put together by one man, in a Willy Wonka sort of way. In a way, it was a typical movie because it followed a predictable format, but being set in a virtual reality video game, and the concept of life-changing in game Easter eggs, gave this movie a lot of unique flavor.
Con: The Clues (-3pts)
I enjoyed the competition format, but I thought the filmmakers got a little lazy when it came to giving the main character clues. In order to solve each challenge, players had to go to a virtual museum that contained all of Halliday’s memories in video format. Millions of players obsessively swarmed the museum, for years, while searching for clues. For some reason, Parzival was able to find clues for each challenge before any other player. It was oddly convenient, and it made Parzival feel severely less deserving because it made everything feel too easy.
The best example of this was for one of the challenges, where countless other players had already watched the same video that Parzival ended up watching. However, Parzival was the first one to watch the last thirty seconds—or so—of the video. In those last seconds, Halliday literally looks at the camera and tells the viewer exactly how to complete the challenge. I just find it really hard to believe that so many other players would have been so obsessed with finding the egg, yet none had decided to watch the video even a little longer. Even Parzival himself had watched the video many times before, but he never decided to watch the last short little section. It was blatant lazy writing, and given how creative other aspects of the movie were, I thought this was a disappointing moment.
Pro: Parzival & Art3mis (+6pts)
The relationship between Parzival and Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) was an interesting one. They formed a competitive friendship, so they each liked the other, but both want to get to the Easter egg themselves. They were competitive, but they ended up working together to try to get to the Easter egg before the IOI. The two hit it off in OASIS, but had to meet each other all over again when they met in the real world. I liked this part of the story, because the characters had to had chemistry online, but that chemistry was tested when they met each other in the real world. It was interesting to see what forming a new relationship means in a world based primarily in virtual reality, and it was interesting to see how that compared to real-world friendships. Both are different kinds of friendships, and I enjoyed seeing this idea explored.
Con: Side Characters (-3pts)
Much like Parzival and Art3mis, we got to meet all of Parzival‘s friends twice. Meeting their over-the-top characters online was fun, but I was a little disappointed when we met their real life counterparts. They felt pretty stereotypical, and if anything, made me lose a bit of interest in their virtual reality characters. They each had some cool moments, but they were overall pretty generic and underdeveloped.
The rest of the side characters were severely bland as well. Whether it was characters who worked with Art3mis in the resistance, or employees of the IOI, this movie was filled with exaggerated stereotypical characters that felt like they were in a cheap parody movie. I liked the movie, but it was filled with a lot of lazy writing for pretty much all of the side characters. By focusing on them at all, all the filmmakers did was take time away from the more interesting main characters.
Pro: The Properties (+5pts)
One of my favorite, and one of the most memorable, things about this movie was the intellectual properties that they were able to throw in here. The filmmakers got to use a ton of classic video game and movie characters, and it was a lot of fun to see these things popping up throughout the movie. We had the Iron Giant, the Delorian from Back to the Future, Spartans from Halo, King Kong, and really a ton of others. The filmmakers threw all of these surprising properties into this movie—something that would not have been possible without getting permission from the owners of these properties—and I am really glad they did.
Some may think that that this was lazy fan service, but I see it a different way. Adding all of these properties simply made this movie a both epic and a lot of fun. Did they add much to the story itself? No, but I enjoyed seeing each of these things, and was excitedly waiting to see what familiar things would pop up next.
Con: Sorrento & I-R0k (-2pts)
Sorrento (Ben Mendehlson) was the head of the IOI and he was determined to get the Easter egg by any means necessary. The IOI, with Sorrento at the helm, had become an evil corporation that had the hand in the deaths of many players—both inside and outside of the game. Sorrento felt unique at first, due to the general unique nature of the movie, but he quickly turned into an uninteresting. He was ultimately a one-note character that got way too much screen time for how little he was actually developed.
I-R0k (T.J. Miller) was Sorrento’s in-game hired muscle. He was a high ranking player so he was extremely dangerous, or at least he was supposed to be. He did not do anything noteworthy and cracked too many jokes to be taken seriously. This character could have been taken out of the movie all together and the story would not have been affected at all. I like T.J. Miller and his comedy, but this character felt like a waste of time, as he did not do anything aside from look intimidating and crack a few jokes.
Grade: B+ (88pts)
My expectations for Ready Player One were not very high. Not because I did not think it looked good, but because I had not seen or heard anything about the movie before going to see it. The movie followed the typical format of a dystopian story that was geared toward teenagers. However, while it followed a standard format, it had a ton of really fun and unique flavor to go along with it. The filmmakers played into the video game theme very well, and by doing so, they were able to incorporate a lot of epic properties into their story. This quickly became one of the most entertaining parts of the movie, and trying to spot different iconic characters in the background could make repeat viewings pretty entertaining.
My favorite part of the movie was its premise. The filmmakers did a great job at commenting on our society’s reliance on technology by creating a dystopia that was an exaggerated version of what the future of our species could be. They also created a fascinating universe with OASIS. There are seemingly infinite worlds and infinite stories that could be told in this virtual reality, and I enjoyed the few worlds and stories that we got. The quest of finding the Easter egg created a fun adventure for the main characters and gave the movie a naturally competitive storyline. It was a movie that I was not expecting much from, but I am glad that I checked it out, because I definitely had fun with it.