Steven Spielberg would have to be one of the directors I look up to for having such a broad spectrum of genres and tones in his filmography. Ready Player One brings him back to one of his fortes: adventure. (Though, personally, I think he is brilliant in any given genre.) This futuristic, cautionary tale set in 2045, not too far from the present, is based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel of the same title. To be honest, even though this film is highly anticipated, I was really not that excited about it, but among the Black Saturday films now, this seemed to be the most intriguing in the lineup so I viewed it first and thank God, I made the right choice.
As seen in the preview, the film is about the virtual reality called The Oasis. Much like the internet, it’s a world specifically for gamers where you can earn coins in various games within this universe. The ultimate goal, though, is to find the creator, James Halliday’s, hidden Easter egg which grants control of The Oasis to whomever finds it. Feels like an Indiana Jones film set in the future, so this is very much up Spielberg’s alley. +3
If you’re a gaming fan, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of the kind of animation used in the film which meticulously emulates that of the gaming world. For others, this might seem a bit disconcerting, 'cause why will you watch a full movie in this kind of crude graphics when you’re used to seamless, realistic 3D animation? Those were exactly my thoughts actually, but Spielberg was able to sell this reality and as the movie progessed, you’ll get why. +2
Mark Rylance creates another sublime persona in Halliday, a computer geek who lacks social skills but is weirdly amiable. I’ve only taken note of this amazing thespian after he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies (another Spielberg masterpiece) and how I appreciate how he transforms into each different character everytime. I’d give him an Oscar again for his performance in this film. +4
I am such a puzzle geek and so the quest to finding the correct answer to each riddle was such a delightful journey for me. Spielberg is really the master in setting up these situations, making you extremely engaged into whatever reality it may be. I’m not a gaming fan but suddenly I felt like I was. It was something the last Tomb Raider lacked. Though, I’m sure Spielberg just helmed this in his sleep. +5
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What the older millennials and the Titos and Titas will love about the film are the references to a lot of 80s pop culture, may it be music, movies, or video games. Atari, John Hughes, David Bowie... I guess 80s is the new favorite throwback era of filmmakers nowadays. +4
The leads or the High Five in the film were cast well, too, led by Tye Sheridan (Parzival/Wade) and Olivia Cooke (Art3mis/Samantha) with asian actors Win Morisaki (Daito) and Philip Zhao (Sho). The two menacing villains were also quite effective played by Ben Mendelsohn (Nolan Sorrento) and Hannah John-Kamen (F’nale Zandor). +3
Movies are all about creating worlds and immersing your audience in it, no matter how familiar or alien it may be and this would have to be the greatest achievement of Ready Player One. You need not have a background on gaming to be engaged in the reality the film presents, the storytelling will do it for you. +5
With a total of 26 points, Ready Player One is definitely worth your buck. Although it does feel like it was really designed for GP or at least PG viewing so everything else is sanitized but hey, it still is great stuff. Spielberg delivers another thrilling yet family-oriented adventure that has a powerful message amidst the changing times in this shifting virtual era: "...as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it's also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real."
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Photographs by Jaap Buitendijk for Warner Bros. Pictures