Ready Player One

  • 14 Apr - 20 Apr, 2018
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

In Steven Spielberg’s future-adventure Ready Player One, the world’s favourite pastime is a raging sensation called “The Oasis” – a virtual reality world that has gotten way bigger than its origins as a video game. Filled with characters from any and all creations of fiction, The Oasis is a wonderland of pop-culture memorabilia from the 80’s and the 90’s, some even from before.

The visual feast moves like a lightning bolt, blistering through blink-and-you’ll-miss trivia, within a span of a few seconds, we see everyone from Freddy Krueger (from The Nightmare on Elm Street) get totaled by canon fire, to the T-Rex from Jurassic Park chomping down racing cars (too many brands to remember), to the 60’s Batmobile getting thrown off a cliff, and the iconic bike from Akira get squashed by King Kong’s hand. After all, in the film, almost everyone on Earth is playing this game.

Real-world people are free to dress-up their online avatars. They can be anyone, and everyone from fact or fiction (if they so choose). The Oasis is, however, stuck perpetually in the past – a brain child of a genius (played by actor Mark Rylance), who is already dead when the film starts. Even when long-gone, the inventor has left clues at the end of very specific (and very hard) missions. Each achievement will give the winner a set of keys, leading ultimately to the ownership of this virtual reality world. It’s a hard bargain to let go of.

Wade Watts (Ty Sheridan) is an 18-year-old orphan, living in less-than-ideal circumstances in Columbus, Ohio, and Spielberg, maverick filmmaker that he is, establishes the film and Wade’s backstory within a mere span of a complex, uncut camera move. Obviously, there’s a lot of story to get through and not nearly as much time.

Ty is a fanboy of the 80’s, which gives him a slight edge against an evil video game conglomerate called IOI, who also plans to own Oasis (it’s a part of their corporate agenda).

Spielberg speeds through the story rather quickly, adding romance and action to trivia. It’s an unending ride. At one point, Wade and his friends (Olivia Cooke, Lena Waithe, Phillip Zhao, Win Morisaki) enter a level designed as The Overlook Hotel from The Shining – an exact replica of Stanley Kubrick’s film; things get nasty real quick there, though no one is actually at any real risk.

Ready Player One, despite its visual pomp, is slightly low on story. Adapted from the novel by Ernest Cline – which I haven’t read – I believe the material, and the source of its inspiration, is partly to blame. The cosplaying, virtual reality hopping world, isn’t new in fiction. In fact, this particular type of story has been tapped dry in anime (Japanese animated films and series) like Sword Art Online and the brilliant Log Horizon. The extreme reliance on established films, however, does give Ready Player One enough zest to make it a through recommendation. •