Sunday, April 15, 2018

Movie Review: Ready Player One

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting themes in a fun story
Cons: Shallow corporate villains
The Bottom Line:
Nostalgia filled film
With fun virtual story
And connection themes

Are You Ready for a Nostalgia Filled Movie?

Even though it isn’t a mystery, I’ve heard quite a bit about the book Ready Player One; I just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.  That means I went into the movie version with a completely open mind.  Overall, I enjoyed the movie, finding it thought provoking.

The film is set in the not so distant future of 2045, in a world that is sadly much different from our own.  The results of riots and battles have left most of the population living in poor, run down conditions.  Its in this world that we meet Wade (Tye Sheridan).  Like most of the world, he spends his days in the Oasis, a digital world where you can do anything or be anyone you want to be.  All of his friends are in this digital world.  In fact, he hasn’t met them in person.

The Oasis was the brain child of Halliday (Mark Rylance).  Five years ago, Halliday died, leaving behind a series of tests to determine who will control the Oasis next.  Wade is determined to win, but so is Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the owner of a company that would profit greatly from being combined with the Oasis, and he has an army working for him

The first challenge is a race that seems impossible to win.  One day, Wade notices Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) attempting to win the race.  Even though they don’t officially team up, the meeting seems to lead both of them to figuring out the first challenge.  Will they be able to figure out the rest?

The biggest thing I knew about the story going in was that it was filled with pop culture nostalgia from the 80’s and 90’s.  I got a kick out of seeing how many of the references I could spot.  Some are blink and you miss them, and others are much more prominent.  I enjoyed spotting them as the movie went along, and I especially enjoyed the details of the final challenge since it involved a video game I love.  (And that’s all I’m saying about it.)  Even though I wasn’t familiar with the elements of the second challenge, I still found quite a few laughs during that sequence.

The real world setting of the film is definitely dystopian, and that put me off since I’m not a fan of dystopian stories.  However, the movie takes place in the Oasis as much if not more than the real world.  I loved the various settings there and found them a lot of fun.

Because so much of the story was in the digital world, much of the film was actually animated.  It looked perfect as a computer-generated world.  This was a very effects heavy film, in fact, and they all looked great.

Likewise, the actors are not only acting but voicing their computer counterparts, and they were great as well.

I’ve heard that the book can be slow at times, but I never found that to be the case in the movie. My guess is that means the fat was trimmed.  The movie does feature a climax that will not quit, and it did seem to go on a tad too long for my taste, but that’s a minor complaint.

Honestly, my biggest complaint with the film was that the villain was the head of a company, thereby sending messages about corporate greed.  Now, I get it.  Corporations can be forces for evil in the world.  But as an accountant, it bothers me that this is such a common theme these days.  Businesses do need to make money, and if they don’t, they go out of business.  They can also provide a lot of good along the way, but that doesn’t seem to show up in movies or in the news.  Okay, okay, I’ll step off my soap box now.  It certainly does add a great David vs. Goliath element to the story.  I think my issue with it here is that the villain seemed shallow and too easy a target.  Maybe there was more development they cut out that would have helped me be on board with this element.

It could be argued that an even stronger theme to the movie is the importance to living in the real world instead of escaping into the world of the internet.  Considering all the discussions I’ve seen pop up over the last couple of years about the dangers of our social media obsessed world, I found a lot of chew on here.  And then I came home and started working on this review to post on the internet.  Of course, I’m not saying that the internet is all bad; I’ve made some great friends because of it I never would have made otherwise.  Like all things, it is a balance, and I think the movie does a good job of reflecting that overall.

Ready Player One really is fun and gives us something to chew on when we leave the theater.  Me?  I’m logging off to go hang out with some friends now.


  1. Thanks for the thoughtful review, Mark. I read the book and liked it a lot (esp. all the 1980s references) but have yet to see the movie. And I agree that the "corporate greed" trope can be boring and tiresome.

  2. I sometimes get weary of the Corporations Are Greedy theme, too. But behind every cliche there is a grain of truth.

    Great review. If this were Epinions, I'd give you a VH rating!