Ready Player One

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One is a fast paced action film full of fun pop culture nostalgia. Set in a dystopian 2045, the world’s number one resource is the Oasis. A virtual reality world where everyone either works or uses to escape the doldrums of everyday slum/trailer park life of Columbus Ohio.

When the creator of the Oasis, James Holiday (Mark Rylance) passes away, he leaves a Willy Wonka like challenge in the Oasis, where whoever is the first to find Holiday’s “Easter egg,” will inherit control of the Oasis and the fortune that comes with it. Naturally, we go on a “Goonies” like adventure where we follow the hunt for the egg through our hero Wade Watts/Parzival (Tye Sheridan) and his crew of friends Aech (Lena Waithe) and Art3mis (Olivia Cooke). They hope to keep the Oasis free for everyone and make it so no one will have to slave away working to pay off debt in the Oasis. Meanwhile, the wicked corporation, led by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) that will do anything to win control of the Oasis as a way to make money and enslave people. Got that? Good. Because the film pretty much explains this in the first fifteen minutes or so. After that, the film becomes a fast paced adventure race to find each of the three key’s needed to find Holiday’s egg and win the challenge.

Since the majority of the film takes place in the Oasis, we find ourselves mostly watching animation and voice acting. The cast does an excellent job delivering their lines combined with top tier animation. These two things are melded so well, at times you barley even realize you are watching animation. Additionally, the Oasis is packed full with visual pop culture references and gags. Whether its video game or comic characters, a reference to a scene from a movie, soundtrack, or even certain famous sound cues, you will find yourself constantly looking at everything on screen and smiling with amusement. Even if you do not know the references very well, the film moves at a fast enough pace through each part of the adventure, you never feel alienated or as if you are out of the loop.

For those who are wondering, then film differs greatly from the hit 2011 novel by the same name, in that it is able to create a version of this story that is entirely its own. Thus it leaves the “book is better” conversations to the side. Instead, the book could be seen as a complement to the movie, for those looking for more depth in character, the real world of 2045 and the Oasis. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the changes from the book in the film, and yet, I want to re-read the novel to get more out of this rich environment.

In the end, I’d have to say that Ready Player One is worth the full price of admission. There is something for everyone to enjoy in this fun, fast paced, action film.

4 out of 5 stars