Ready Player One - Review
Steven Spielberg is back with one of the biggest pop culture journeys in the history of film. The book - which is a dense story of the dangers of nostalgia, was going to be a tough movie to make. So there was no one better than Spielberg to bring it to life. Read on to see how the movie shaped up.
The book isn't perfect, but what it did well was build up the suspense of the story. The film couldn't afford to do that - it streamlined the plot to the nth degree.
Exposition front loads the film so it can get down to business. In short - a man named James Halliday invented The Oasis - a computer simulation program where the world spends most of their time. When he died, he left some Easter Eggs in the Oasis, and if those are found, they gain control of the Oasis, and get his entire fortune.
After that the film doesn't look back. It also blends the brilliant CGI of the Oasis with the real life aspect seamlessly. Spielberg makes both sides compelling.
The pop culture references that the film chooses differ from the book - but they work extremely well. The cast works, and it was a smart move to get them together faster in the movie than in the book. The classic Spielberg hopefulness oozes through the entire film. It is right in line with the wonderment created by his films such as E.T. and Jurassic Park.
The best part of the film is that the spectacle means something, you know the stakes at the beginning and are invested in them throughout. It is a perfect example of how a tool can be abused. It is sort of like the internet today. It can be used for good and bad. Science fiction is a precursor to science fact. Right now, the hottest new thing is VR....Something similar to the Oasis is certainly in our future.
The changes made from the book to the film are better for general audiences. The book goes overboard on some deep dives, and has some sexist undertones. Cline, who also co-wrote the screenplay, fixed some of those issues and in some ways, it makes the film a stronger version of the story than the novel. The love story in the film is not as cringe-worthy as the one in the book. It does help that Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke are charismatic on screen together.
The only place where the film lacks is the build up of suspense. The book does it masterfully. But Spielberg makes the constraints of time work, and you get a fully realized film. People who didn't read the original story won't even notice the pacing issue.
Ready Player One is a simple story. It allows for the setting and the aesthetic to be deep and complicated. It is easier when it is one or the other. A complicated story needs a simple setting that the audience is instantly familiar with so the focus can be on that. It is the opposite here. The story is easy to follow, so the audience can deep dive into the dense and complicated world of the Oasis.
Spielberg hit a home run, and it is nice to see him back in genre filmmaking. The film won't resonate with everyone, but if given a chance, they could find something to grab on to. The universal appeal is high here and better yet, Spielberg just made an entertaining adventure flick, like Raiders or E.T. but for the 21st century.
Ready Player One will be a fun one to rewatch and dissect many times to come. It is very dense, rich and full of Easter eggs to discover.
Ready Player One is now in theaters everywhere.