“Ready Player One” was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Mark Rylance and Ben Mendelsohn. The film is based on the novel by Ernest Cline of the same name and is about a virtual world called the OASIS that has become more important than life itself, and the quest that Parzival (Sheridan) goes on to find an Easter Egg that the creator of the OASIS (Rylance) left behind after his death.
Cline’s novel is one of the most well-received books in recent memory, and though I haven’t read it, I’ve certainly heard a ton about it, so I did have my fears that the film simply would not be able to get the scope of the book down. Still, this is Spielberg who we’re dealing with, so I came in hoping for a fun adventure with tons of great references.
From a visual standpoint, “Ready Player One” is an absolutely breathtaking experience with some of the strongest effects in recent memory. The amount of visual references the film manages to pull off is exceptional, and Spielberg does a great job at using these references in a way that rarely feels forced.
This movie is made for fans of pop culture, as characters and moments from various classic movies and video games are scattered throughout, and it is hard to not have a huge smile on your face in these moments. Above many things, “Ready Player One” manages to be incredibly fun, and these references are a major reason why.
Rylance as Halliday simply knocked it out of the park with his incredible delivery and flair he gave to the character. Halliday was my favorite character because of his complexities, which were all brought out brilliantly by Rylance.
Sheridan and Cooke both give strong performances in the lead, and Mendelsohn once again shines at being a dickhead, something he loves to be typecast as. T.J. Miller as I-R0k is only in the film for a brief time, but he brings a much-needed burst of comedy every time he spoke.
Even without reading the book prior to seeing the film, I thought that the movie built the world well enough simply through Parzival’s journey to avoid being bogged down by exposition. Sure, there are pieces of this world I’d love to have heard more about, but at 140 minutes already, the film flies by without having a dull span, and I fear that any added backstory would have pushed its limits.
I talked about references already, but I must single out one referenced horror film that may just be the best scene in a movie all year. That, along with the fight sequences, which are extremely well shot, made for the highlights in a consistently fun film.
Cooke and Sheridan are great on their own, but their romance just does not work in this film. Because of how crunched for time this movie feels on more than one occasion, there’s not enough time to make this relationship feel believable, which leads to some very cringe-filled moments.
Again, due to time constraints, this world often left me with some unanswered questions. The major corporation within this world doesn’t always make as much sense as I hoped, and the importance of Columbus, or the outside world in general, just never felt like it came together.
As fun as “Ready Player One” is, the lack of stakes often hurt the ability for the movie to be exceptional. The family aspect of Parzival’s life just feels weak in comparison to anything that happens in the OASIS, and the number of coincidental moments just made all the tension leave the room. Spielberg does go back to some classic storytelling, but that doesn’t excuse the occasional laziness of the plot.
“Ready Player One” is a blast of a time with a strong mix of references and fresh ideas, though it is far from perfect. There are moments I can look back on that bring a smile to my face, but other moments that leave me rolling my eyes. Still, Spielberg adapted Klein’s audacious novel in a way that seemed to take the highlights and expand on the fun, and the result works for the majority of the movie.
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