Based on the book by Ernest Cline, who co-wrote the screenplay with frequent Marvel screenwriter Zak Penn, we follow the story of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a young teenager whose only real friends are the ones he’s made in the OASIS. Shortly before his death, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the founder of the OASIS, planted three Easter Eggs inside the game, guarded by impossible tasks that will require the players to think outside the box and rummage around through Halliday’s past in order to find it. The winner takes home not only a substantial amount of money, able to restart their life in the real world, but also complete ownership of the company he left behind.
Spielberg has never been one to half-ass it when it comes to his filmography, and Ready Player One is no exception. It’s a visual wonderland with a number of unbelievable sequences that are pure Spielberg through and through. The film is interesting to watch unfold, and not just because of the central mystery at the core of the plot. It simultaneously provides the fans with exactly the geeky pop-culture references and a 80s-central plot they want to see, while also using it as a warning of the dangers of what we’re becoming. The screenplay gets zero points for subtlety, but hey, it’s certainly a fun ride.
For the first twenty or so minutes, I wasn’t sure how exactly to feel. It’s all exposition all the time, with a lot of the human elements really over-acting. Plus, Spielberg continues to implement that over-exposed look he insists on using in every one of his films, and it only continues to annoy me. But the basis of Janusz Kaminsk’s cinematography is brilliant, and the score by Alan Silvestri blends perfectly with the hip 80s soundtrack that’s sure to be downloaded millions of times once it’s released. Still, while its technical merit should be applauded, Ready Player One is far from a perfect movie.
This is the type of film that, for a lot of it, isn’t fantastic. Then all of a sudden a really brilliant sequence will come along that’ll make you forget about all the other shortcomings the narrative presented. Had the film been more along the lines of those memorable moments, this could’ve been a masterpiece. Instead, it’s kinda thin, kinda forgettable, mostly fun and scattered with plenty of classic Spielberg moments. We could’ve used a little more of the brilliant supporting cast of heroes and a little less of T.J. Miller trying way too hard to be funny. But hey, Mark Rylance’s fake hair didn’t annoy me the entire time, which was a nice surprise.
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