Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendehlson, Lena Waithe, Philip Zhao, Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg
Written by: Zak Penn and Ernest Cline (screenplay), Ernest Cline (story)
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Studio: Warner Bros.
Run Time: 2 hr, 20 min
Junkies, I saw Ready Player One last night and really enjoyed it. Nevertheless, my review needs a disclaimer: I didn’t read the book. I’ve read a lot of reviews from my friends who have read the book and I keep seeing the same thing. “it wasn’t as good as the book” or “I would have rather seen it as a mini-series.”
However, as someone who didn’t read the book, I walked out of the theatre very happy with what I just watched. It was a fun adventure, with a lot of cameos from properties that I like, that ended with a message that I genuinely agree with.
Ready Player One is about a young man, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who lives in the slums of Columbus, Ohio called the Stacks. The real world is a drag, but everyone spends their time in the OASIS; a virtual reality game that has everything they lack in real life. You can be anyone, do anything, and lose yourself in another world of infinite possibilities.
When the creator, Halliday (Mark Rylance), of the game dies, a challenge is unlocked, and every player is trying to find three keys that unlock an Easter Egg that will give them control over the OASIS and billions of dollars. Naturally, our main character is still trying to find the keys six years later. As he starts to unravel the puzzle and understand what it all means, Ready Player One changes from a decent movie of spectacle, to a great one with substance.
Though Halliday is a massive fan of video games and pop culture, the keys and clues all have to with his relationships in the real world: his old business partner (Simon Pegg), the woman he loved but he didn’t kiss, and the gaming industry. The film reflects this theme when, in its ending, it makes the point that though all these fictional worlds are nostalgic and fun, they aren’t real. That you can’t lose sight of reality and what's beautiful about it.
Ready Player One is a love letter to video games and film, but it reminds us that we can’t let these things dominate our lives. We need to come up for air and experience the real world in the way that many aren’t able to.