Ready Player One
Lets face it, Steven Spielberg has been streaky in the past few years. I absolutely love some of his earlier stuff. Jaws, Jurassic Park, E.T., are just some of the titles that I love from him. Even some of the work from the 90’s like Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan are excellent. I did like his last effort (The Post) which was a solid politically based news drama. I wasn’t overly impressed with the marketing or trailers for Ready Player One, but Spielberg’s name being attached meant I was curious. At the very least I expected to ride that nostalgia wave that I feel a lot of others wanted to experience as well.
The film is set in the year 2045. The world is vastly different and everyone is immersed in a virtual world named the OASIS. The protagonist Wade uses his virtual character and enlists the help of a team to find a hidden easter egg in the OASIS. The creator of the OASIS has hidden three keys that lead to the egg and the one who completes the challenges to earn the egg will take over the creator’s fortune and also control the virtual reality world. The CEO of a corporation named IOI is attempting to gain control of the egg himself, thwarting Wade’s quest.
This has to be one of Steven Spielberg’s most ambitious and toughest films to make. The film is heavily computer animated as expected, and there is so much on screen. There are plenty of references to pop culture of the past. You will see movie and video game references everywhere; you are bound to miss many of them because some come and go quick. Licensing to use these characters must have been hell but it was done nonetheless. Visually the film is nice, some of the computer animation might be distracting but its still fun to look at.
I do think the film is overlong and drags quite a bit in the third act. I know the film is following a literary work so its hard to criticize some of the plot holes or advancement of the plot. I don’t feel like the side characters were as fleshed out as they could have been. The film gets too busy making references and delivering action that it kind of loses its heart. I did however really enjoy the entire segment with The Shining, fairly brilliant stuff.
I was also disappointed with the soundtrack. I wanted more 80s nostalgia in term of music. For example, some of the songs used in the trailers could have been utilized but isn’t done so. The film isn’t always smart and some of the pop culture references feel ham fisted and tacked on but I feel like the film was better than I thought it would be. I’m actually pretty infatuated with Olivia Cooke at the moment. She’s quite a talented actress having recently seen her in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Thoroughbreds. I want to see her in everything.
This film isn’t touching some of Steven Spielberg’s very best but its a better film than what we’ve been seeing recently from the filmmaker. its certainly a better film than The BFG and War Horse. Overall, visually it provides actions and a lot of references but suffers a bit as the film wears on. Still, its an entertaining watch, which is really all I was asking for from Ready Player One.