Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Zak Penn and Ernest Cline
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn
Whilst Ready Player One might not be the Steven Spielberg masterpiece that a lot of us hoped it would be, it’s still a fun and memorable cinematic experience that you don’t want to miss out on.
Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Ernest Cline the movie follows the adventures of a group of people hunting down the golden Easter egg within a virtual world called the Oasis, with the premise being that should you find this Easter egg you will gain control of the Oasis itself. And in terms of adaptations the film falls somewhere in the Lord of the Rings category of accuracy; the core story is the same and there are a number of scenes and moments which are lifted straight out of the book, but the journey the characters take to get to their end goal has a number of differences both little and large. Some of these differences were done so with the film’s length in mind, others with having to adapt some of the challenges to an on-screen medium that perhaps requires more adrenaline pumping action than a book would otherwise need. But overall if you’re a fan of the book then you’ll definitely be at the very least appeased with the way this adaptation turned out, and that’s unsurprising given Ernest Cline’s involvement with the screenplay.
As for how the film holds up on its own, there are both good and bad points to be made, but fortunately it’s mostly the former. There’s no real attention grabbing performances in the film, and that’s partly down to the limited time that we actually spend with the in-person versions of these characters. Tye Sheridan is fine as the film’s main character, but he offers little more than a standard, by the numbers performance. The same can be said for Ben Mendelsohn who portrays a typical comic-book villain with little backstory or motivation other than money and greed. But the film is fortunate in that the real stars aren’t the real life characters, but their avatar counterparts in the Oasis. Art3mis, Parzival, Daito and Aech all outshine their real life players and that’s where the films strength lies, in the Oasis.
Whilst the film’s portrayal of the Oasis isn’t exactly what I had imagined when reading the book, that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Spielberg (And likely Ernest Cline) did a great job of modernising the original vision of what the Oasis was (Something built around 80’s references that would be lost on many of the younger audience who will go to see this film) so that it fit in today’s culture. There are so many Easter eggs littered throughout the film, both subtle and exceedingly obtuse that it’s going to take someone a scary amount of time in order to list them all. But because of that I almost feel like this film will leave you wanting to go back and start all over again, wanting to find just one more reference, one more character that you didn’t notice the first time around, I know I sure want to right now.
It’s hard to say right now whether this film will have any impact on the future of VR in the real world, but it’s certainly not going to hurt the technology now that a far wider audience has been introduced to the sheer magnitude and beauty of the world that Cline envisioned.
If you have the chance go and see this movie in the cinema, it’s a big screen cinematic experience if ever there was one and the stunning visuals and amazing soundtrack are something that you have to experience for the first time in a theatre. This film is going to have everybody talking and for all the right reasons. Should it be getting 10/10 reviews? No. But that doesn’t make this any less of an impactful film and one that will no doubt still be talked about in many years to come.
Final Score: 7/10 Porgs.