“Review the Oasis!”
A love letter to the 1980s, Ready Player One is one of the most anticipated movies this year thanks to Steven Spielberg taking the director’s chair of this adaptation of the book of the same name by Ernest Cline. The book has a rather split audience, some loving it and some hating it. I personally have not read it so I will be judging the movie on its own. Is it good? Has Spielberg lost his touch? Let’s find out!
Much like last week’s Pacific Rim: Uprising, the story of Ready Player One is not particularly innovative. Everything in it is a beautiful love letter to nerds, especially those who grew up in the 80s. Unfortunately, this can work towards the films disadvantage at points as even the story seems very much a product of the 80s, tropes and all, but I’ll talk more about that in the spoilers section.
The plot is easily explained in the first opening minutes of the movie, with the audience easily being able to tell immediately who the bad guys are and who the big bad is. However, Spielberg manages to implement some of the smoothest foreshadowing I’ve seen in a while. This along with the decently intriguing puzzles to find the keys keeps the movie from feeling like something you’ve seen a million times.
The story gets a respectable 3 out of 5. An averagely engaging plot.
But what of the player characters? After all, what really makes an MMORPG like the Oasis is the people who play it. So how do they fair?
I think the best word that can be applied to the characters of Ready Player One is…standard. The main character is the nerdy hero who must rise to the occasion that you saw all over the eighties. You’ve got the Best Friend, the Girl, and the stereotypical other two who round out our five man band.
There are some issues I have in regards to some unused potential in regards to the Oasis player avatars in the spoiler section, but for the most part the characters, good and evil, are serviceable. I do take issue with just how stereotypically Japanese Daito and Sho are, but from what I hear they were even more so in the book so at least Spielberg toned them down a bit and gave them more character beyond being Japanese.
The characters get a 2.5 out of 5. Serviceable but with a few issues.
But just like Pacific Rim Uprising last week, we all know what we’re here for. We’re here to see our favorite characters fight off a soulless corporation in a stunning video game we all wish we could play. Does the movie succeed in this?
Absolutely! The screen practically bleeds with a million and one references to absolutely everything you can think of. To catch all the references you’d have to go frame by frame through the entire movie it is that jam-packed. And it is a blast!
It’s so fun to see some of my favorite characters beating up mindless bots while rendered in beautiful CGI animation that would give some Final Fantasy movies a run for their money. The Oasis itself is presented beautifully in a way that makes you really believe that everyone would want to live in it to escape the wonderfully gritty and miserable looking slums of The Stacks.
The visuals get 5 out of 5. I definitely want to see more of this kind of animation in movies down the line.
Overall, I can see this movie being just as divisive as the book. Some will see the story and characters as boring or even problematic while others will love the nostalgia-fest and incredible animation. For myself, it’s a fun movie to turn my brain off and enjoy for a bit. In total, Ready Player One get a 3.5 out of 5.
Here there be major spoilers!
Go no further if you have not seen the movie!
You have been warned!
One thing that really kind of bothered me about the movie when I thought about it was how the concept of the player avatar within the Oasis was handled. Granted, they all look very creative and unique, but not as much of a societal issue as Aech implies. I was almost certain from the first time I saw them that Aech was black in real life and Daito and Sho were Japanese-American in real life.
This also leads me to my issue with Art3mis. Now let me say up front, I thought Art3mis herself was a really cool characters, but everything around her and everything that happened to her was problematic. I was so disappointed when she became a damsel in distress. It would have been fine if she’d then saved herself, but nope, got to keep with the trope and have the main character save her. Also, when Aech mentioned she could be anyone in real life and Art3mis herself said that Wade wouldn’t like how she really looked, I was expecting something a bit more drastic than a conventionally attractive white woman with a birthmark that looks like someone splashed cherry Kool-Aid on her face.
Like, she’s not a supermodel, but there is absolutely no tension over whether Wade will like her real self. Make her overweight, give her some kind of legitimate disfigurement, heck maybe even make her a him. When I heard Aech talk about how you could be anyone in real life, I was expecting a love triangle.
Actually, imagine this, what if Aech turned out to be an attractive girl the same age as Wade with a crush on him while Art3mis turns out to be a guy who also has a crush on Wade. That would have been a much cooler twist and dilemma than a poor cosplayer’s Zuko scar.
Anyway, that’s just my two cents, take it or leave it, I just thought it needed to be addressed. I still enjoyed the movie despite this and I still recommend seeing it.