“Bartender, I’d like the cocktail that has all the pop culture in it!”
That’s what Ready Player One feels like a lot of the time.
Based on the book by Ernest Cline that did reasonably well (ed. note: As in really well), it follows the story of a virtual world avoiding the problems of a real one.
With a multitude of heavy nods to every license under the sun, it was going to take someone with a lot of pull to get them on-screen.
And then small-time Director, Steven Spielberg, was announced…
In the year 2045, the world is on the brink of chaos and collapse. People have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance).
When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world.
When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.
This film will have enough bombast to take it to the tops of the Box Office.
A fantastic marketing campaign has seen it touted as a sort-of pop culture messiah, chanting its hymn of “LOOK AT ALL THESE LICENSES”.
Spielberg’s connection was brilliant, not only in automatically getting one of the stories main hero props instantly on-board (ed. note: The DeLorean from Back To The Future), but because of this man’s pull for everything else needed.
Filled to the brim with icons from pop culture, I could see future screenings becoming some kind of cult-like BINGO experience to be shared, as everything from Stephen King to Overwatch to Gundam is seen on-screen (ed. note: Of course there’s much more).
The cast do enough to represent the characters they bring from page to screen. Lena Waithe was inspired casting for Aech, and Ben Mendelsohn continues his typecast villainous ways as Sorrento.
Before the screening I remarked to a friend if Tye Sheridan was being typecast as “The Glasses Guy” (ed. note: Per his role in X-Men: Apocalypse) and we laughed, musing that this can’t be the case.
Until the majority of his real world role was in glasses…
Olivia Cooke as love-interest Art3mis is there also, with no remedy to bad writing from the novel. And I say “love interest” as she’s reduced from the bad-ass character in the book to something that attempts to help resolve the lead’s hero arc.
Utilizing some goddamn gorgeous CGI that occasionally meets the real world, the prettiness of the film isn’t enough to overlook the very shallow storyline.
That’s not to say the ride isn’t fun, but it’s that kind of “good” you accept when you don’t really hate something enough to say it’s “bad”.
Depending on how this runs in future, there’s potential for Ready Player One to receive some DLC cuts that would be both hilariously on the nose and horrifying at the same time.
And I’d probably still buy them.
READY PLAYER ONE is a fun enough romp that would probably be returned to your local video games retailer after you finish it.
At least it's visually pleasing enough to look nice on the pre-owned shelf.