Don’t think too much—this is Spielberg channeling his geeky gamer self, and darn, it is enjoyable.
Dir. Steven Spielberg
2018 | USA | Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi | 140 mins | 2.39:1 | English
PG13 (passed clean) for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg
Plot: When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.
Awards: Nom. for Best Visual Effects (Oscars)
Distributor: Warner Bros
Subject Matter: Moderate – Virtual Reality, Gamification
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Audience Type: Mainstream
Viewed: In Theatres
First Published: 8 Apr 2018
Not since 2005’s War of the Worlds has Steven Spielberg done a proper science-fiction blockbuster. In the mold of some of his most unabashedly entertaining mainstream movies, the 71-year old filmmaker with a 12-year old heart takes Ernest Cline’s source novel and transforms it into an aural-visual phantasmagoria of everything so fun and addictive about popular culture of the last 40 or so years, including movies, video games, and everything geeky in between.
In other words, Ready Player One is not for cinephiles who think too deeply about cinema, intellectualise every single shot, plot hole, technical flaw, thematic concerns, and the like.
You need to lose yourself in this. Don’t think too much—and if you so dare choose to think, think about your childhood. Think about the first time you ever asked permission from your parents so that you could play a video/computer game after completing your homework (mine was the very first ‘Need for Speed’).
Or think about the time you ever watched an action, sci-fi or fantasy movie in the theatre where you lost yourself to the screen, and then bought a second ticket to relive the experience (mine was The Matrix Reloaded back in 2003).
Think of your treasured memories, for as much as Ready Player One is about an alternate virtual reality that brings humans out of their bleak, suffering present reality, it is also about your own real past, the virtual reality in your own mind.
“People come to the Oasis for all the things they can do, but they stay for all the things they can be.”
OASIS is that commingling of those two kinds of virtual realities, where hundreds of thousands of others spend almost their entire waking time playing, in hopes of finding the Easter Egg that the late creator left within the game. Whoever finds it will inherit the creator’s humongous fortune.
The thin plotting is no issue for a movie like this, but the lack of genuine emotions which is a direct consequence of less time afforded to real human drama is a concern. Even when Spielberg is at his most spectacular, he never forgets human relations and tensions.
They are only perfunctorily addressed here, which is why the movie feels intense but never tense, a pity because beneath the gloss, Ready Player One is really a race-against-time type chase movie waiting to be unleashed to its truest potential.
But darn it, who cares? I have never seen a film like this before, at least visually. The amalgamation of digital images and artifacts produced (through loads of CG of course) are so fragmentary, so referential, so utterly artificial and superficial, it’s like the postmodern couldn’t contain itself and exploded in a post-visual world.