Parzival / Wade and Art3mis / Samantha

Warner Bros.,

“Ready Player One” Takes the Win

April 6, 2018

4/5 stars

In a world bursting with action and adventure, video games and Easter eggs, Ready Player One has a lot to boast about this year. Jumping right off his latest directing work of The Post (2017), Steven Spielberg is now immersed in the filthy dystopian world in the year 2045 where people find their escape in the massive virtual world of OASIS. People can make their lives how they want in the massive videogame, using money to win prizes, games, and other rewards.

The story follows the protagonist Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) as he tries to uncover an Easter egg left by the late creator of OASIS, James Halliday (Mark Rylance). It soon becomes a dangerous race as Wade and his friends go up against the corrupt company of Innovative Online Industries (IOI), headed by the leader, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). Whoever finds the Easter egg first will inherit the corporation and Halliday’s entire fortune.

Screenwriter Zak Penn (Behind Enemy Lines, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men 2: Last Stand) adeptly modified the book into a great family movie for all ages. Gamers will enjoy the endless references; each challenge in the OASIS contains video games and pop culture from the 1980s.

The film focuses on “what’s next?” regarding the evil corporation of IOI, so much that key story lines such as Wade’s family and the IOI opposing rebel’s hideout are left unfinished.  Still, director Steven Spielberg (The BFG, War of the Worlds) succeeds in delivering a movie based on the book by Ernest Cline under two and a half hours.

Cline and Penn were skillful in bringing in brand new characters and making them connect for the audience. Strong interactions between the long time virtual friends of Wade and engineer Aech (Lena Waithe), added comedic and heartfelt values.

In one of the early scenes, Wade, Aech, and the mysterious player Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) enter Aech’s workshop, the discussion of repairing Art3mis’s bike was an unexpected spot of laughter.

Moments between characters that are not focused on random life or death scenarios, just blatant friendly moments, is crucial if a creator wants to build on their stories. This film deliverers, best in the fumbling or teasing of characters; it makes them feel real in a hyper virtual world.

An action videogame movie would imply crazy antics, but there is a wonderful amount of sincere thought and connection between the beginning and the end of the story. It ties together many little mysterious and remarks, nothing is introduced without a reason.

The visual effects were spot-on for a Speilberg work. More than half of this film is in the virtual world of OASIS, so the effects and art team had a lot to deliver. That being said, it wasn’t bad looking. The main characters are ‘cartoonified’ if you will, soft features, bug eyes, almost clay shaped proportions.

The real life segments are either in dusty trailers or high tech corridors. As with character design, the audience will have to get used to random style changes. The main cast is design with somewhat similar features (blocky yet detailed generic shapes), but that doesn’t stop the references from becoming that same pattern. It’s a little discerning seeing a soft cartoon girl like Tracer from Overwatch next to a group of metal armored clad soldiers from Halo.

The world of OASIS itself does change dramatically in its different locations, speeding between a light show in a smoky dance club and zooming into explosions and bright flashes in a car race, but does so seamlessly. There is a wonderful visual montage through the set of a famous Stanley Kubrick movie that chases a characters through different transitions that a brilliantly done in homage to the hit film.

Overall, the movie is remarkable fun. The story held fine within its time frame minus some points that had more left to be desired. It was visually excellent and many videogame fans will find one reference that they know. Even those who are not a fan of videogames or other media entertainment, it is still an enjoyable action film. It satisfies with quirky characters, thrilling action, and a following storyline.

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