Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay Written by: Zak Penn and Ernest Cline
Based on the Novel Written by: Ernest Cline
Produced by: Donald De Line, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Spielberg, and Dan Farah
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki, Hannah John-Kamen, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance.
Based on the dystopian world created in the novel written by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One opens in an overpopulated Columbus, Ohio, 2045. A place where Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) wants to escape every chance he gets because he’s living in the Stacks… with his aunty and loser boyfriend… sleeping on top of the washing machine…
Wade thrives in the OASIS, a virtual universe where he feels alive, where as his avatar, Parzival, he has a chance to win the ultimate prize: control of OASIS.
When James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the brilliant and eccentric creator of OASIS dies, he leaves a parting gift to the world – the final game where any player can win.
Somewhere left in the game are three keys that when found lead to an Easter egg: whomever finds the egg first wins the game and control of OASIS, meaning half a trillion dollars and ultimately control of the world.
A high-stakes game that of course, has a villain: Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) head of operations of Innovative Online Industries, or IOI, and self-proclaimed colleague of everyone’s hero, Halliday.
To win the game is to win everything, and Sorrento plays to win with all the technology and army (AKA the Sixers) money can buy. He’ll stop at nothing. And against the young Wade Watts who’s all heart, it’s a David versus Goliath tale, set to an 80s soundtrack while featuring all the pop culture references associated with that time.
Ready Player One takes a new view of a classic ideal with Halliday, the old and awkward mentor that we love and admire; the want to be able to achieve anything as long as we work for it and want it bad enough; that love is there waiting for us if the time is right to take the leap; that with the help of friends (like the High Five) evil can be overcome…
Pretty cheesy stuff, and there’s a lot of those teen moments. Yet, the struggles are hard-wired into our brain, so I couldn’t help but grin and cheer for the underdogs.
Add that action-adventure aspect with the riddles and search for keys in a computer game brought to life by three years of VFX work to get all the overwhelming detail right, you’ve got an entertaining film.
The highlight for me was the reference to Steven King’s, The Shining. Most will find a reference to relate to; the 80s has something for everyone, but I found the scare-factor of The Shining and attention to the animation particularly impressive. When inverted, into the ‘real world’, to laugh at the baddies getting their scare-on, it was brilliant: Stephen King, the ultimate equaliser. There’s a reason I’m such a fan and hats-off to Spielberg for re-creating The Shining world so well.
But enough with the references ‘cause I’m grinning while I’m writing so I’ll end with: Ready Player One is a classic action adventure that felt unique by showing the past in a new light provoking a feel-good 4-star cheeky grin.