Ready Player One is a movie that made me very nervous upon seeing the trailer. Most of us got excited seeing the potential of how so much nostalgia from so many eras in the past 30+ years was going to be in a movie. Just imagining the money alone being spent to license them had to be tremendous. The biggest fear was would all this visual goodness make Ready Player One a good movie or just hinder it with an overabundance of product placement?
The plot, based on the book by the same name, centrally revolves around a young boy named Wade. Wade lives in a dystopian future where everyone is using virtual reality to get away from the real life worries that they face. He sets off on a quest to find a treasure in this game that will ultimately give him dominion of the game as well as inherit a huge fortune.
In the hands of anyone else, this movie could have gone wrong but in Steven Spielberg’s hands the movie is a fun, yet dark look at the world of gaming, technology and a longing to be anywhere but “here”. Wade’s character is relatable to almost any gaming nerd whoever faced being sort of a loner in real life but sees himself as something else in a virtual world. Even the supporting case is unsurprisingly the same way. The game touches on many topics that many gamers deal with online especially when it comes to wanting to meet people in real life. The biggest obstacle is IOI who, as a big corporation is also seeking the game’s treasure as they know it would give them total control of the entire game and allow them to reap all of the benefits monetarily of those who play.
While I loved who everything in this movie came together with the nostalgia nods, the real world blending with the CGI and so much more, the question is, would this movie be good without it? To be honest, considering this movie’s world is based in a game that is an open sandbox of possibilities, it’s pretty linear and predictable. It’s a story that we have seen many times but Spielberg’s elements of blending the characters, pop culture references, and the world itself in a good, even mix is what really saves this movie from being a disaster of a loud, in your face movie that I was glad we didn’t get. In my estimation, this movie is this generation’s Tron and a very good nostalgic romp we all needed.
3.75 Konami Codes out of 5
There’s not much to add here: the movie was good. I’m not sure I can call it “great,” because it doesn’t explore any new territory that was already traveled in The Lego Movie, Wreck-It Ralph, The Matrix, or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The story is, in essence, a pastiche of those things. But then, even the great stories tend to be lifted from something else–even Star Wars constantly borrows from earlier films.
What I will say is that there’s a basic-yet-deep message to the film which speaks to human interaction and living in the real world. Ready Player One is about a world where people turn to fantasy to feel real, but there’s a real world beyond them which they’re missing. Reality is difficult and doesn’t always live up to expectations, but it’s always going to be more solid than the ones and zeroes of the computer world.
It’ll be easy to get caught up in the fun elements of the movie: seeing Hello Kitty, Batman, and Mecha-Godzilla occupy the same space is a rare treat indeed. Filmgoers are going to walk out of there wishing that they, too, had avatars who could explore a world infinitely more creative than our own. Moreover, they’ll go back to the internet and their PlayStations and miss out on the real meaning of the film: that life is out there. By all means, go to the movie and give yourself some escapism, but remember that the story is prodding you to explore the world beyond the game.
Rating: 4 Extra Lives out of 5.