HOLLYWOOD—I heard plenty of buzz, I mean massive buzz about the latest film by director Steven Spielberg, “Ready Player One.” As a result, I had to check out the flick which far exceeded the expectations that I already had in the back of my head. It’s no secret that Spielberg has done some phenomenal things in the cinematic universe from “Jaws,” to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” to “Jurassic Park.” Spielberg likes to explore real-life in real time in a way that resonates with so many Americans.
“Ready Player One” tackles a subject matter that has become all too popular for many Americans: video games. I will be the first to pinpoint that as a kid video games dominated my childhood. I mean I could sit in front of a TV and play my NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, PlayStation and so many other gaming systems on hours end without a single interruption. A video game is almost like a movie, but slightly different because you can become so immersed that nothing around you matters, and I seriously mean that without hesitation.
This film takes a look at the world in 2045, where it seems a war has transpired leaving many living in desolate conditions; conditions so bad that they almost seem uninhabitable as a viewer. To escape the chaos of real life, nearly everyone immerses themselves in the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), a virtual reality world that allows people to do almost any and everything they’d like to do in real-life. At first we’d like to think the OASIS is something only used by youngsters, but that is not the case, the adults are just as enthralled in the OASIS which allows people to collect currency and points over time.
Let me make this clear a large chunk of the first act of the movie is in the virtual world itself where the audience is introduced to several avatars from our main characters Wade (Tye Sheridan), Samantha (Olivia Cooke), Helen (Lena Waithe), Akihide (Philip Zhao) and Toshiro (Win Morisaki). I loved this aspect of the film because it forces the audience to immerse themselves into this sci-fi adventure. Wade is the star of the film as his avatar Parzival aims to do something no one has ever done with the OASIS, discover the hidden Easter eggs that creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) created.
That big Easter egg involves the idea of just hunting/looking, whatever you want to call it. As a result if you solve the mystery, you gain absolute control over the OASIS. That is a feat that Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) desperately wants to attain. Mendelsohn, who portrays the films villain, does a respectable job as the movie’s big baddie. After a first act that focused primarily on the OASIS, the narrative shifts to the real-world where we dig a bit deeper into the lives of Wade and Samantha. Yes, these two circle the love story that is evident in this adventure. Do you feel the chemistry instantly between Sheridan and Cooke in their human roles? No. I’ll be honest it was instantly felt inside the OASIS when their avatars first meet, and that helps to build their relationship in my opinion as we venture back and forth between reality and fantasy.
So what about the action and visual effects? They are absolutely amazing. I witnessed the flick in standard 2D, but watching it all I could imagine was how epic things would look in 3D. Watching the flick it reminded me a lot of Spielberg’s action-flick “Minority Report” starring Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell. That movie was more evolved into the crime arena. What Spielberg initiated with “Minority Report” is evolved to the next level with “Ready Player One.” This movie totally immersed me as a viewer and I was entertained a vast majority of the film.
I will admit there was a slight moment of boredom as the flick moved from virtual reality to reality, but once things picked back up I was front-and-center. As someone who adored videogames as a kid, there are so many characters that pop up in the movie that will put a smile on your face. You didn’t expect it, but you kind of did. Even those who are not actual fans can get enthralled in this movie that is light, adventurous and a potential cautionary tale of where technology could be headed in the near future. “Ready Player One” was the most fun I’ve had in the theaters in 2018 up till this point!