Movie Review: “Ready Player One”
It is the year 2045 and society has become reliant on a software called OASIS. It is a virtual reality universe in which users can be whoever they want to be. Within OASIS, users can get jobs, go clubbing, or just meet and interact with friends. The possibilities are endless but the software was originally intended as an action video game. Though that was the original intent, much of the world’s society uses the software as their primary mode of existence (only leaving the virtual reality to eat and sleep). The software is revered by all users and, when the original creator died, the whole world mourned.
The software’s creator, Halliday (Mark Rylance), is dead but he did not go out without making a final contribution to OASIS. Before dying, he recorded a video announcing an Easter egg that he had hidden within the software. 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. With the Easter egg, the player will receive a vast amount of money and full ownership of OASIS.
The first key (and a clue to the second) will be awarded to the player who wins a challenging car race. The race is recurring but after a few years, no player has been able to 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 discovered a secret to winning the race. With this secret, the first key is surely his, but it will not go unnoticed by the IOI.
The Pros & 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. I first and foremost, liked the premise of virtual reality 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 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 is a fantastic embodiment of that fact.
The plot was also a lot of fun. It was a typical competition storyline that 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 kind of way. In a way, it was a typical movie because it followed a predictable format, but virtual reality and the concept of Easter eggs gave it 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 (leading to each key), 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 made Parzival feel severely less deserving because it seemed a little too easy.
The best example of this was, for one of the challenges, many players had already watched the same video that Parzival did. What made Parzival so different? He 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. Really? I find it hard to believe that so many players would have been so obsessed with finding the egg but none had watched the last few seconds of this particular video. Parzival himself had watched this video many times before but decided to stop watching before the end. I just found this to be a little too ridiculous.
Pro: Parzival & Art3mis (+6pts)
The relationship between Parzival and Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) was an interesting one to see. They form a competitive friendship, so they like each other, but both want to get to the Easter egg. They are competitive but end up working together to try to get to the Easter egg before the IOI. The two hit it off in OASIS, but have to meet each other all over again when they meet in the real world. I liked this dynamic because the characters had to have chemistry online as their alias characters but they also had to have chemistry in the real world. It was interesting to see what forming a new relationship means in a world based primarily in virtual reality. It was different (in a good way) and was one of the more interesting parts about this movie.
Con: Side Characters (-3pts)
Much like Parzival and Art3mis, we (as an audience) must 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.
The rest of the side characters were severely bland. 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 side characters. By focusing on them, 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 properties 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 ton 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 so much more. The filmmakers threw a ton of surprising properties into this movie, and I’m honestly very pleased that the owners let the filmmakers use all of these properties. I do not want to get into the details, but know that seeing all of these properties being used in this way (and experiencing the nostalgia that came along with them) was an absolute blast.
Con: Sorrento & I-R0k (-2pts)
There is not a whole lot to say about these two characters. Sorrento (Ben Mendehlson) is the head of the IOI and is determined to get the Easter egg by any means necessary. The IOI, with Sorrento at the helm, has become an evil corporation that has resulted in the deaths of many players (both in and out of the game). It feels unique at first, due to the unique nature of the movie, but he quickly turns into an uninteresting, one-note character that gets too much screen time.
Then there is I-R0k (TJ Miller). I-R0k is Sorrento’s in-game hired muscle. He is a high ranking player so is extremely dangerous, or at least he is supposed to be. He does not do anything noteworthy and cracks 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 TJ Miller, and his comedy, but this character felt like a waste of time. He just does 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 follows the typical format of a dystopian story that is geared at teenagers. However, while it follows that standard format, it has a ton of really fun flavor to go along with it. It plays into the video game theme very well and, by doing so, it is able to incorporate a lot of epic properties into the story. This quickly becomes one of the most entertaining parts of the movie and trying to spot different iconic characters in the background could make repeat viewings equally entertaining.
My favorite part of the movie was its premise. It does a great job at commenting on our society’s reliance on technology by creating a dystopia that could very well be a possible future for humanity. It also creates a fascinating universe with OASIS. The possibilities are endless in OASIS, both for the characters of the story and audiences. There are seemingly infinite worlds and infinite stories that could be told in this virtual reality. Then there is the quest. The quest created a fun adventure for the main characters and gave the movie a naturally competitive storyline. The movie has a few minor problems that are mostly related to poorly written side characters, but it was (overall) a pretty entertaining movie.