Steven Spielberg is taking a break from his recent string of “Oscar-Bait” projects to bring the novel, “Ready Player One” to the big screen. As a visual spectacle, the film is filled with wonder, and packed with enough pop culture references that would make almost any geek happy. Unfortunately, as a narrative, there isn’t a whole lot of originality.
Set in the year 2044, most of the Earth’s population live in cities known as The Stacks. They are basically trailer park homes, stacked on top of each other. The story centers on Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a teenager who spends most of his time in the digital world known as the OASIS. In this world he goes by the avatar, Parzival. When Halliday (Mark Rylance) the creator of OASIS passes away, a contest is activated in which the winner will win control over the digital world. Parzival, teams up with Ar3mis (Olivia Cook), plus his avatar friends, Aech, Sho, and Daito to try and collect the three keys needed to win. Unfortunately, the head of IOI corporation, Sorento (Ben Mendelsohn) wants to control OASIS and will stop at nothing to make sure he wins. Sorento is a cookie-cutter villain and just isn’t any fun to watch. The characters only seem to come to life when Wade finally meets his team in the real world, but by then, it’s too late.
One of the problems with “Ready Player One” is that it run 140 minutes and lacks interesting characters to follow. Sheridan is a gifted young actor, but he isn’t all that special here. The real magic in “Ready Player One” is the nostalgia, but that can only take things so far. Despite my lack-of-love for the film, there are quite a few elements that make it hard for me not to recommend it. For one, the sequence that takes the story into the world of Kubrick’s “The Shining” is worth the ticket price alone. I also got a kick out of the character’s reactions to Chucky the killer doll’s appearance. The first challenge that focuses on a car race is just an incredible spectacle as well. “Ready Player One” won’t go down as one of Spielberg’s better projects but for those of you who grew up on his films, I am sure you will find some enjoyment here.
By: Marc Ferman