'Ready Player One' review - the futuristic 80s film we didn't know could happen

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Spielberg's dystopian video game epic is visually stunning and a far-reaching concept which unfortunately doesn't do much in the way of inspiring it's audience.

Based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 sci-fi novel of the same name, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One is set in a 2045 where practically everybody spends their days in the virtual reality world, the OASIS, to escape the desolation of the real world. This overarching theme alone makes this movie an interesting watch, as it encourages considerations about the future we may face with increased technological developments and disassociation.

It follows the adventures of a group of friends, the High Five gang, as they try to win control of the OASIS by discovering the keys left by the adored creator, James Halliday (Mark Rylance) after his death. This takes on a political nature, as they are driven to do this to stop the conglomerate I.O.I. from gaining control of this game, and consequently the majority of society.

It’s certainly an enjoyable storyline. But, with its lack of character development it becomes quite a basic tale of heroism and adventure without much emotion for the viewer. From the get go it just delves into the world of the OASIS without giving anyone the opportunity to get to know the character.

Samantha/Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), for example, doesn’t have her story explained until later, despite it playing an important role in encouraging the High Five’s ambition. This had a lot of potential for forming an emotional connection to the character, but unfortunately it was only skimmed across.

via GIPHY

These limited developments could be purposeful, to highlight the fact real-life personalities are undermined by the fact people solely live through the game. But, it really limits engagement with the movie and the desire to root for these characters.

It’s also disappointing that Samantha/Art3mis’ role is overshadowed by Wade/Parzival (Tye Sheridan). As the most skilled player and the player with the most zeal to win, she really isn’t given enough recognition.

The references do however seem slightly out of place when you remember it’s meant to be set in 2045.

As the OASIS’ content was inspired by Halliday’s obsession with 80s pop-culture, the movie is filled with these loveable references. The best of these being the challenge faced by the High Five in the setting of The Shining (1977). But, there are references throughout, like Wade’s DeLorean.

As the references all serve a purpose to the storyline and aren’t just placed for nostalgic purposes, it’s still enjoyable if you don’t understand a lot of these references. The references do however seem slightly out of place when you remember it’s meant to be set in 2045.

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Photo by Youtube / Warner Bros. Pictures

While the placement of these references is explained by Halliday’s interest in them, this isn’t done until later in the movie. Also, the extreme societal interest in it purely because Halliday loved it seems a bit farfetched.

Ready Player One is certainly worth a watch if you want some light-hearted adventure and nostalgia. It can also provide some mind-bending considerations about our future if you decide to take it in this direction. But, it’s not the kind of multi-layered, emotive cinema that will really stick with you.

Photo credits: Youtube / Warner Bros. Pictures


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