Movie Review: Ready Player One

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I am a child of the 90s, but my heart belongs in the 80s. So much 80s pop culture has influenced my live in so many ways whether it being the music I listen to or the films that I hold dear to my heart. When I heard that Steven Spielberg, the master of 80s cinema, was taking on the adaptation of Ready Player One, the match seemed like one that makes so much sense that it wouldn't happen. I mean perfect matches don't seem to happen that often in cinema. I remember Brian Cranston as Lex Luther rumors. Perfect matches happen less often that you would think. The hype train was full-steam ahead with moviegoers hoping that this beloved novel would not fail to fulfill expectations. 

Ready Player One stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance with Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, the writer of the original novel, penning the script. The film takes place in the year 2045 and most of the population has given up on living a normal social live and stays indoors to succumb to the virtual reality world of the OASIS. The OASIS is an open-world virtual reality game that allows players to go wherever they want and do whatever they want, the possibilities are endless in the OAISIS. When the creator of the game, James Halliday (Rylance), dies of old age, Halliday launches a contest that will give the winner full-control of the game along with becoming one of the most powerful individuals in the world. Wade Watts (Sheridan) becomes one of the first players to discover the first clue to the contest and once he becomes the most likely candidate to win, others begin to challenge him both inside and outside the game.

As a reader of the book, I can definitely confirm that there are many differences between the novel and the film. While there are many differences, including two of the three challenges, having Ernest Cline handle the adaptation helps give the film all of the fun and excitement that came with the novel. Both the novel and the film give off the same entertainment value and enjoyment even though the stories are completely different. Whether the differences in the stories might bother some individuals, I believe that many will not be turned off with the changes. In fact, the changes might benefit the film in a way since this version really helps increase the pace of the story. 

When it comes to the visuals of this film, a majority of this film takes place in the digital world of the OAISIS. While I was intrigued that we spent so much time in the digital world in this film, I was not put off with the use of CGI in this film. The world of the OAISIS is not as lifelike as it is made out to be in the novel. The visuals are definitely great but nothing near the lifelike effects that many might be hoping to see. I do believe that there was a creative decision in weakening the realism of the OAISIS to help viewers of the film differentiate when they were in the real world and in the virtual world. 

Tye Sheridan does a decent job at portraying Wade Watts. Sheridan is effective at conveying the social awkwardness of Watts, especially when it comes to the romantic-tension between Watts and Art3mis (played by Cooke). While I think both do a good job at conveying the awkwardness that comes with falling for someone's digital profile, I don't believe the chemistry between the two once they meet up in the real world. Mendelsohn's portrayal of IOI's head honcho has its ups and downs. One moment, he comes across as a menacing presence similar to his character of Director Krennic in Rogue One and then the next, he comes off as a bumbling Scooby-Do villain.  The worst performance in the film hands-down goes to Hannah John-Kamen as F'nale Zandor. Her performance in this film provides so much cheese, you could produce entire fondue for a starving family. 

While the film is not perfect, Ready Player One is definitely an entertaining film. Great pacing and a tightly-knitted plot help elevate this film to the expectations many set for this film. The performances from the cast are nothing to hang your hat on but they earn their paychecks by making you care for these characters enough to get you into the film. While the visual elements warrant a viewing of this film on the big-screen, I can understand moviegoers waiting for the home release of this film. There are so many pop-culture references within this film that it is impossible to catch all of them in your first viewing. I'm looking forward to picking up this film when released on home video in late July and I hope you take that time to give this film a shot.