McCoy on Movies: Ready Player One

McCoy on Movies: Ready Player One

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Steven Spielberg delivers a visually stunning arcade experience with his adaptation of Ready Player One, but will it be a winner at the Box Office? Read on to see what our movie critic says.


“This is probably not the right time to work on our Kid N’ Play kickstep dance moves, huh?!” Samantha (Olivia Cooke) and Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) in a scene from Warner Bros. Pictures’, Amblin Entertainment’s and Village Roadshow Pictures’ action adventure READY PLAYER ONE, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Village Roadshow Films North America, Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment, LLC. – U.S. Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Tye Sheridan, Mark Rylance, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Lena Waithe, Hannah John-Kamen, Simon Pegg, Philip Zao, Win Morisaki, Susan Lynch and Ralph Ineson 

WRITER(S): Zak Penn and Ernest Cline (screenplay); Ernest Cline (based on the novel by)

DIRECTOR(S): Steven Spielberg 

WEB SITE:’S THE STORY: Based on Ernest Cline’s immensely popular best-selling book of the same name, Ready Player One stars Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts, a young man living in 2045 Columbus, Ohio. With most of society in a state of dystopia for unknown reasons, Wade lives in a slum known simply as “The Stacks” with his aunt (Susan Lynch) and her less-than-stellar current boyfriend (Ralph Ineson). And like many people, Wade spends most of his time by playing in an online video game system known as “The Oasis.” The creation of the eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the Oasis is more than just an online video game network, it’s the escape from reality of choice for just about everyone. 

And then Halliday dies – leaving behind a challenge that prompts just about any and everyone to log on to the Oasis: Find three keys and unlock an Easter egg that will result in the winner being given all the rights to Oasis. 

Wade – better known by his online avatar of Parzival  – is determined to win the prize as is his online best friend Aech (Lena Waithe) and fellow gamers Daito (Win Morisaki) and Sho (Phillip Zhao). But he’s not counting on is the presence of Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) and Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn); for whereas Art3mis is hoping to find the egg for a positive purpose, Sorrento is hoping to win to give his company Innovative Online Industries (IOI for short) the ability to monetize the Oasis and basically run the world. And since Sorrento has the help of I-Rok (T.J. Miller) to help him, the odds are heavily stacked against Parzival.

But then again, what’s a good video game without some impossible odds to overcome?

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? People who love Spielberg’s 80s work; those who love video games; those who liked the book and will be excited to see it brought to life on the big screen; fans of The Shining; people who love seeing 80s and 90s pop culture hidden like video game Easter eggs throughout a film

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People hoping for more details from the book; those who have zero interest in gaming, especially online gaming; parents upset that you can have one f-bomb in a movie and still receive a PG-13 film rating

SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? A film that feels visually built for generations of video game enthusiasts while blending in elements of classic Steven Spielberg films, Ready Player One is a visual masterpiece … With just enough acting behind it to back up that optical appeal.

Make no mistake about it, Ready Player One follows a lot of classic Spielberg young actor-led films to a “T,” just in a modern (or futuristic, if you will) setting with eye-popping visuals. Almost like the veteran director’s own Avatar, the digital scenes in One are amazing. The race and Shining sequences are nearly worth the price of admission alone, showcasing the type of imagery the creators of 4K Ultra HD must have dreamed of while perfecting the technology. 

Visuals aside, Ready Player One delivers an easily digestible story that, as mentioned above, has all the elements of a Spielberg young-actor driven story: 

  1. A young man who’s disconnected and/or has lost the adults in his life (√);
  2. A young girl that is going to make that young man come out of his comfort zone and/or mature once he gets over his own nerves (√);
  3. A group of fellow, young misfits that will assist our hero along the way (√);
  4. A villain with cartoonish qualities (note: this is ONLY in Spielberg films where the protagonist is young and not Indiana Jones style affairs) (√); AND 
  5. A sympathetic, simple older character (a la Goonies) that seems out of place in the real world and needs the young protagonist(s) to understand him or her (√). 
Sheridan proves himself capable in his human and avatar form of moving the story forward, but it’s really a team effort as he is at his best when interacting with his fellow gamers – especially when in avatar form. Of course, if you are not up on gamer culture or your 80s references, much of the fun of One will likely be lost on you as a lack of a frame of reference will severely hurt your understanding. 
If it seems like I’m not saying too much about the story or the acting therein, there is a reason: While competent, the film is more an ensemble piece of technology and story held together by the compelling (if not “here’s my depiction of the ultimate sweetheart nerd’) performance of Rylance and the fascinating, engaging world of the Oasis. TJ Miller nearly steals the show as Sorrento’s avatar hitman I-Rok, delivering his trademark sarcastic quips with humorous fury whenever he gets a chance. That’s what ultimately makes the movie more of a great visual experience than an emotional one: One’s characters are better developed in the digital world than in its real one, even though that’s the one the film attempts to get you to embrace. 
Then again, the film is fun enough to forgive those foibles and keep you plugged in from start to finish that Ready Player One will likely be a multi-player experience audiences will enjoy for years to come.