Kenton Hilderbrand reporter
Directed by legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg, “Ready Player One” is a film adaptation of a book of the same name. It tells the story of a young, 20-something boy named Wade Watts who is living in some sort of post-apocalyptic or dystopian world—how the world ended up like this is never explained, so just go with it, I guess—where people attempt to get away from how terrible the real world is by entering a program called “The Oasis.” After the creator of the Oasis dies, he leaves behind a series of three puzzles, and whoever solves all three of the puzzles inherits the company behind the Oasis and all the power that comes with it.
This film seems to be quite controversial, with a lot of people very angry about it. Does “Ready Player One” deserve all that vitriol? Eh, the movies okay.
I’ll be the first to admit, I went in to this movie with my expectations incredibly low. I’d read some excerpts from the previously mentioned book an, boy, they were rough. The book seemed to just be lists of cool things from the 80s for hundreds and hundreds of pages. So, I went into the theatre expecting the movie to follow suit and I was pleasantly surprised the film wasn’t a complete dumpster fire. There are some moments when the film starts to bash your head in with “Hey, do you remember the 80s? Do you remember Chucky and ‘Back to the Future’???” but most of the references are in the background. Don’t get me wrong, this film isn’t some sort of amazing crossover that’ll be remembered for ages, like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” the film doesn’t have nearly enough staying power, but I digress.
The main draw of the film is the virtual world of the Oasis, where anyone can be anything they want to be. Who would have guessed it, the moments of the film that take part in the Oasis are the best part. Everything looks good and it does look like a world where people would want to spend a lot of time. All the action scenes that take place in the Oasis are cool-looking and fun. I wasn’t actively bored during what are supposed to be exciting moments like when I watched “Pacific Rim Uprising.” However, there’s a downside to the majority of the film taking place in the Oasis. There’s no real threat to these characters. This isn’t a movie where “If you die in the game, you die in real life,” instead the characters just lose any items and gold they’ve acquired. The film sets it up where apparently this is a terrible thing, and it shows a random person attempting to commit suicide after it happens to them. But when a character is getting chased by King Kong during a death race, there’s no urgency or anxiety to this at all, the worst thing that can happen to them is that they get inconvenienced.
Speaking of characters, these ones are incredibly bland. Our main character, Wade Watts, is just another milquetoast young adult novel character who is supported by similar one-note characters on their quest to save the world. The main villain is the typical evil business man who wants to take over the world just to make more money.
The story is basically a bunch of clichés shoved into a videogame, which tries to make itself unique by adding recognizable properties to its setting. So, when there are action or drama scenes happening in the real world you find it very hard to care because these scenes have no ground to stand on. The characters are boring, and they can’t be carried by how pretty or cool the scenes can look in the Oasis. The film even tries to shove a romance subplot in your face throughout the movie—the scenes are easily the worst part of “Ready Player One.” If your characters are bland cardboard cutouts, don’t try to make a romance subplot, it won’t work out. The film would have been far more enjoyable if they had just made it an action movie because the setting would allow for some neat things to happen.
Overall, “Ready Player One” was okay. The set-pieces inside the Oasis looked neat and it didn’t beat you in the face with references as much as I thought it would. The movie had some neat action scenes that took advantage of the set-pieces a setting like the Oasis provided. However, the film was held back by trying to make you care about its dull, one-note characters and shoving in unnecessary character-driven subplots—like it’s romance subplot—that don’t end up working at all. If you wanted to see the film just to try and spot your favorite intellectual-property, or if you wanted to see neat action scenes, you’ll probably enjoy parts of the film. Just be weary that the live-action parts of the movie take up a substantial part of its runtime, and they are incredibly dull.