Insert coin for references
Ready Player One is an adaptation of the hit novel, that mashes up various pop culture characters and scenarios into what one might call a story. I have never read the novel by Ernest Cline. This means that I had zero idea what to expect going into this movie. I am happy to say that this definitely feels like Steven Spielberg making a classic blockbuster again, with mostly good results. The story centers around Wade Watts, played by Tye Sheridan, who escapes into the virtual world of the Oasis. This is where most of the future population spends their time, trying to become someone else, and do whatever they want. When the creator of the Oasis, James Halliday, played by Mark Rylance, dies, it is a race to the finish to find 3 keys that lead to an easter egg that will give the winner control of his legacy. Various plots of life and death intervene, and we have our story.
I was really worried for the first ten minutes of this movie. The exposition of the world at play, and the constant pop culture references were not impressing me. Once the characters and story are in motion, the film gets much better. The middle act of the movie is fantastic, with great action scenes, and humorous moments. The last act, however, dove a lot into the random pop culture stuff, which felt really pandering, and kind of felt forced. All the performances were really well done, and Spielberg really knows how to light and block a scene to this day.
The core messages, and sentimentality of the story, were what kept me interested. There were some genuinely emotional moments, especially with Mark Rylance. Some references to things like The Shining, and Back to the Future were cool, because they were a part of the larger story. The random references like all the Atari, and modern video game references felt forced, and stupid to me. Many of the characters in the film feel like they need to point out that a reference is happening, which is distracting and on the nose. The main reason to see this movie, is because of the main storyline, and the excitement of the easter egg hunt. It sort of feels like Willy Wonka with a VR setting.
The film looks gorgeous, with some of the best CGI I have seen in a while. Definitely watch this with a big screen and a great sound system, as the score by Alan Silvestri, and the sound mix is superb. On a purely technical level, this movie is another great one from Spielberg. Most of the problems are with the script, which isn’t bad by any means, it just should have really toned down the pop culture references, and had more focus.
This movie was for sure entertaining, and worth seeing at least once. It really feels like Spielberg should come back full force making these types of films, but next time, work on something more original like his Jaws, and even Indiana Jones days. Sure Indy is very derivative, but Spielberg made it feel new to everyone. Still, Ready Player One is a fun ride.
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