Quick Hit: Packed to the gills, with action to match, with a slight letdown for a story.
Hey guys, I have a confession to make. I like the decade of the 80s quite a lot. I’ve said before it’s my favorite decade for horror films, but there was a lot going on in the 80s. Television, movies, and video games were now invading our homes and becoming part of our daily lives. The innovations that occurred in the 80s, from MTV to Atari, have made possible so many of the things that we have, including probably the phone that you’re reading this review on. And there are a lot of people that may have been born just barely outside the 80s (like yours truly) that still love and appreciate all the pop culture that decade brought to us.
In some ways, I’m totally Ready Player One’s target audience. I’m a white male that loves the 80s, loves pop culture (from books to video games to movies and beyond), and oh by the way, I like dystopian stories. When I read the book, I enjoyed it, but was a bit underwhelmed with the writing style. And while I still manage to have some of the same complaints about the movie, I’m here to tell you that the film is a visual feast that will have your eyes flickering to all sides of the frame attempting but failing to catch all of the Easter Eggs that are presented on screen for you. Without a director like Steven Spielberg, I don’t think the film could have managed to be good – but somehow he wrings the heart out of what little there is besides – OMG IS THAT JASON VORHEES!??
The film follows Wade Watts (Ty Sheridan of X-Men Apocalypse) in 2045 – and a world that has been sucked into a virtual reality experience called The Oasis. For anime watchers, this is similar to Oz in Summer Wars – everyone has their own avatar and you can do virtually anything you want. Created by James Halladay (Mark Rylance of The BFG, Bridge of Spies, Dunkirk, etc.), Halladay’s passing has led to an Easter Egg hunt of three keys hidden somewhere in the Oasis, that if found will give you control of the Oasis and all of Halladay’s money. There’s also a bad corporation led by now type-cast bad guy Ben Mendelsohn (Mississippi Grind). Did I mention there’s also a love interest, Art3mis, played by Olivia Cook (Bates Motel)?
The biggest fault with this movie is how it handles its characters, outside of maybe Halladay. We are thrown into this beautifully realized world, with these characters that are lovingly created from their own minds and personalities, but there is almost no depth to them. Even Wade/Parzival is essentially just the normal white teenager, who completely allows the sacrifices of others for him to just wash off so that he can know stuff about video games yo. That, along with the fact that all the issues in the real world have absolutely no explanation or depth (I had this issue with the novel too), leads to some real issues with the threadbare plot.
But man is this movie fun to watch. Whether its Mario Kart Style racing featuring Deloreans and freaking King Kong, or Mortal Combat style matches on Doom, the world is so fully realized that you get overwhelmed. And really, that’s exactly how something like the Oasis would be – completely full of all the things that make us laugh, that invest our minds, and make us dream. I can’t think of a director better than Spielberg at investing us with those very qualities. And it’s his masterful handling of even the low points in the movie that gives it a lift into “B” range. That and “It’s F******* Chucky!” I’m giving it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"