Steven Spielberg’s newest film Ready Player One (2018) is a lot of nostalgic fun with some good performances amongst some story problems. It seems there was just too much story to tell, even though the movie hits the 140-minute mark. Despite some of the problems with the story, the movie was extremely enjoyable.
Ready Player One does bring some amazing moments to life
In a dystopian future, people escape the hardships of their reality by entering into a virtual reality world called the Oasis. Wade (Tye Sheridan) goes by the name Parzival in the Oasis and is obsessed with the game’s creator, Halliday (Mark Rylance). Having passed away, Halliday left a series of challenges which grants the winner control over the Oasis and a vast fortune. Parzival and some in-game friends are driven to find it, but Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) and his company I0I want control of the virtual universe.
There are two sequences in this film that are so amazing that they easily make up for any of my complaints. The first of the two – the race scene – is heavily depicted in the marketing materials, so it’s safe to discuss aspects. Parzival hops in the iconic Delorean from Back to the Future for this scene, and his friend Aech (Lena Waithe) is in the Bigfoot monster truck. This scene also introduces Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) on the bike from Akira. Just those three vehicles alone would be enough to send many nerds into nostalgia overdrive, but there is so much more that happens as the race unfolds…not to mention it looks great during the race and feels very much like many racing video games. The other scene will get no details spoiled here because it was a total surprise. However, it features some iconic moments that any cinephile will surely enjoy.
The major problem with the movie is its need to cover so much ground. There are scenes or characters that really could have been trimmed out to allow for a little more development. One of the earlier scenes focuses on the relationship between Wade, his aunt, and her boyfriend. It really only exists to emphasize Wade’s tough living situation. Of course, the world he lives in has plenty to get this point across without the wasted screen time. In fact, there are a few moments that feel underdeveloped involving the group of friends and their growing connection. It feels pretty rushed, as it’s “every man for themselves” one moment and “all for one and one for all” the next. Then there is a major jump in the plot that gets explained away in dialogue rather than being shown.
Even though the character connections weren’t all on screen, the cast makes them likable, which helps the viewer root for them. Aech – pronounced H – is extremely endearing early on in the film and in that mystery sequence mentioned earlier. The connection Aech has with Wade is clearly established early on but does get a little more development than Sho (Philip Zhao) and Daito (Win Morisaki) and the rest of the crew. Art3mis is a great character with an equally great performance from Olivia Cooke. She’s tough and determined when Wade first sees her. She clearly doesn’t need anyone, but, for some reason, chooses to include Wade.
Ready Player One doesn’t try and do anything more than offering a fun experience at the movies. There are a lot of great scenes, and the film looks great. It’s possible that my constant fandom of Spielberg is swaying my enjoyment of this film, but I did have fun. Ready Player One earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.