‘Ready Player One’ Offers Spectacular Visuals and a Headache

In 2011, a certain sci-fi novel was released called Ready Player One.  It was an instant hit and not only were sales impressive, but the book found its way to the New York Times Best Seller list.  Now, I cannot say that I have read the book, but of those that have, no one has never told me one bad thing about it. Being a bit of literature that flew off store shelves and fulfilled many online shopping carts, it seemed destined to make its way to the big screen.  The novel is filled with references to decades past such as the band Rush, Ultraman, Joust, D&D and a boatloads of 1980’s pop culture favorites. How did all this translate to a somewhat dystopian future where video games are more than just an escape from life? You know the drill. No need to drop another quarter to continue. Just click to read on.

Any time Steven Spielberg’s name is attached to something as ‘Director’, my ears go up.  I’m kind of like a dog lying on the floor who just heard a car door close.  It becomes a situation that offers the potential of great excitement.  Notice that I used the word ‘potential’ there because nothing is a sure fire thing, not even a two-hour fantasy jaunt at the movie theater.  Ready Player One takes place in 2044 in a very rundown Columbus, Ohio.  A virtual reality world exists called the Oasis where every video game under the sun is possible.  People from all over the world don their visors and jump in this universe where they get to be somebody else.The big hook is that the creator of the Oasis, played by Oscar-winner Mark Rylance, left an easter egg within the incredibly massive digital world that could provide real world riches to the one who finds it.  So, that takes us to our lead character, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who makes every effort along with his online clan to capture that gift.  His roadblock, aside from millions of other online gamers, is corporate baddie Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) who has a seemingly unlimited run of personnel and financial resources at his disposal and wants the prize just as bad, if not more.The amount of pop culture references in this movie is unfathomable.  As one writer described the story, it’s a pure ‘nerdgasm’ of geeky tips-of-the-hat.  The film harnesses a couple late 70’s nods like Battlestar Galactica, but really piles on the 80’s and 90’s material like Street Fighter, Star Wars, The Greatest American Hero, Clash of the Titans and even Battletoads.  Wait, what did I just say?  Yeah you read that correctly.  Battletoads was a successful, but now obscure 8-bit NES title from 1991.  Think of TMNT with frogs.  I don’t even remember if I played that game, yet for some reason I was just elated to see that reference in the film.As for the film itself, it is a massive festival of animated imagery, which was especially profound in the IMAX 3D I viewed it in. However, the pluses of this film pretty much end there as the two-hour, twenty-minute runtime of the film felt more like four hours.  I had little attachment to the characters outside of my own real life puppy eyes for actress Olivia Cooke who plays a major role in the story.  Speaking of the story, it simply felt like it would never end (hence the headache).  Just when it seemed things would wrap up…surprise!  There’s still more movie to go. I kind of felt like I watched 140 minutes of just the ‘Bam!’, ‘Pow!’ and ‘Smash!’ balloons from the 1960’s Batman show, but with updated graphics (also hence the headache).  Oh, and for those who read the book, don’t think it automatically gives you safe passage to enjoy the film.  Many references have either been swapped out for something “more relatable” or removed entirely.  My friend I attended the film with who thoroughly enjoyed the book was sorely disappointed with its transition to the big screen.  Are Spielberg’s best days as a filmmaker behind him?  Probably.  I wouldn’t say the well hasn’t run dry for the man seeing as his recent Bridge of Spies was a superb film.  Still, don’t count Ready Player One going down in movie history as one of his best efforts.  It was like getting in a Ferrari, only to find out the speedometer doesn’t go beyond 25.






1 Response to “‘Ready Player One’ Offers Spectacular Visuals and a Headache”

  1. Ulises

    Really enjoyed this one, history is generic but set pieces and action was just mind blowing