Pop culture fans, assemble!
For those who aren’t familiar with Ernest Cline’s book of the same name, “Ready Player One” is a funny and thrilling celebration of pop-culture, set in a dystopian society, while also serving as a critique and a warning of how life in real life could move to a life in the online medium in the future. The story follows a teenager named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who escapes his bleak life on Earth in the OASIS, a virtual reality world where players can be anything and everything they want to be.
Oh, that, and its founder, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), died a few years prior to the movie, launching a hunt for his hidden Easter Egg, made up of 3 parts. What happens when you find all 3 parts, you may ask? Whoever finds Halliday’s Egg inherits his fortune and takes full control of the OASIS. That’s where Wade comes into play: using the alias of Parzival, he is one of many egg hunters, or “gunters” as they’re called, who spend their days combing through Halliday’s memories, good and bad, as well as his favorite things in the pop culture area, from old Atari 2600 games to Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Shining”.
On his quest to find Halliday’s Egg, Wade turns from an awkward teenager to an idol for everyone, as he finds the Easter Egg parts, as well as a symbol of the rebellion in the film’s final showdown. A rebellion against whom? The movie’s villain, of course – that would be Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), CEO of Innovative Online Industries, or IOI for short. Sorrento used to be an intern for Halliday, and now wants full control of the OASIS, making full use of their in-game army of Sixxers, as well as indentured servants.
Where “Ready Player One” truly shines is in visualizing all of Cline’s references to pop culture, video games and whatnot onto the silver screen. In the book, you’d have a full paragraph describing everything, while in the movie, they can just show up and it’s up to the viewer to decipher where they saw a flying DeLorean from (Hint: It’s Back to the Future). It’s just the logical format to release a story such as this one on – there’s no comparison between trying to convey just how articulate the action set pieces are in book form versus in the movie, they just work how they’re intended to this way.
The movie isn’t without its faults, however. There are a lot of moments which only happen because of convenience and “plot armor”, then there’s also the death of someone in Wade’s family, but it just gets glossed over, with little to no mention from Wade himself afterwards. You’d think he’d grieve the loss of a family member, but apparently not.
Flaws aside, “Ready Player One” is a fun and enjoyable movie, with plenty of humor and action to spare, as well as a heck of an art style that is very pleasing to the eye. Let’s just hope that 1) if there’s ever a sequel, it’s going to be just as good, if not better, and 2) it’s titled “Ready Player Two” – anything else would be a joke, so take note, Steven Spielberg!