Ready Player One is Steven Spielberg’s newest film based on the 2011 novel by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline. The story is set in a dystopian 2045 where economic decline has caused millions of people to seek escape in a virtual reality world known as the OASIS. Upon his death, James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, willed his vast fortune and control of the game to the first person who could complete his three challenges and find the hidden Easter egg in the game.
Five years later, Wade Watts, known by his screen name Parzival, cracks the code of the first challenge and takes the lead, only to be targeted by Nolen Sorrento of the IOI corporation, who has an army of gamers searching for the Egg for himself.
Simply put, this was brilliant. This was easily the best movie I’ve seen since Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And if you’re one of those people who didn’t like The Last Jedi, I’ll say it was easily on par with Coco and Wonder Woman.
My rating: 5 out of 5.
Ready Player One has received somewhat mixed reviews—generally good, but with some significant detractors. For example, io9 called it “an orgy of nostalgia” and said that it “reinforces hoary old stereotypes about nerds and fandom cultures”. Honestly, I’m not seeing it. The cast is decently diverse, and the movie directly plays with the idea of how the real person behind the avatar can surprise you with both Aech/Helen and Sho/Zhou. Likewise, despite the (very real) nostalgia factor, the movie’s message that you have to experience and fix the problems of the real world and not just escape to the virtual world runs completely counter to that narrative.
Of course, other critics praised the nostalgia factor, and I think the movie’s secondary message that the object of the game is as much to have fun as it is to win plays into that quite well. Personally, I think it deserves well above its 74% Rotten Tomatoes rating. Maybe it’s not super-deep…but I actually think it’s deeper than it gets credit for.
But above all else, Ready Player One is fun. The final battle had me laughing out loud, and I didn’t begrudge its length, as some reviewers did, simply because I had so much fun with it. The movie takes that part of its message and runs with it, and it passes with flying colors.
Ready Player One is one of the few films I might go to see a second time in the theater, and I’ve already added the book to my reading list, so I encourage you to check it out.