Nostalgia. As we get older we start thinking back on the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. The shit they don’t make anymore. Like Doritos 3Ds, SURGE Soda, Crispy M&M’s, Keebler’s Fudge Magic Middles, Dunkaroos, and P.B. Crisps, an item I’d strangle a person for just to try again. The list goes on and on, and not just for food items like I listed. Even Steven Spielberg fell victim to the nostalgic bug.
And that brings me to this film. Who is this made for exactly?
It feels like this was based on a YA novel, a book made for teens, but what 16 year old or younger is going to get most if not any of the references in this? I don’t see kids liking this and I sure as hell don’t see guys in their 30’s or older digging it either, who I’m pretty sure this should be more geared towards.
Too nostalgic for a group that hasn’t lived longer than 15 years and too YA booky for the older groups like myself. Maybe it wasn’t going for either of those groups, but trying to bank on nerd culture. That seems more plausible and has a further reach than just pandering to this age group or that age group. Why else have Halo characters mixed in with Mortal Kombat characters? Also there’s Gundam. Even at 30 I’m not sure the average Joe would know what Gundam is. Maybe I can look at this less like a nostalgic trip through memory lane and more like a celebration of geek culture.
Finally, being a nerd has paid off!
I found the movie suffers from the oh-so common third act problem syndrome. But we can’t start there, we have to start at the very beginning first. And the beginning here is a spectacle of a car race.
I can’t deny that there was a gigantic smile on my face when the race was happening, I’m not sure if it was just the whole absurdity of the thing or… no, it was the absurdity of the whole thing. I did like how it was presented, no intense music to punctuate how thrilling this was meant to be, just the sounds of car engines revving, cars wrecking, T-Rexes roaring and stomping, not to mention King Kong leaping from buildings, peeling vehicles like ripe bananas. It’s pure insanity and it is what we immediately start with. Normally, this is something we have to build up to. But here, this is what we start with.
Not that I’m complaining too much as for me it was the highlight of the movie. Hell, I’d recommend seeing this movie just based on that. But by the time the next giant battle commences, it’s already been two hours and we kind of just want to go home by then. That’s my rule, when the butt starts hurting in your seat, it’s time to start wrapping things up. Especially with a film like this where everything is more or less pretty choreographed and simply predicable.
I was fighting pretty hard thinking the film would surprise me. But eventually getting let down when it didn’t.
See this giant red button that will shut down The Oasis forever? Instead of just randomly bring it up for no reason like they did, maybe have the character have to press it to stop the bad guys. Destroy your own creation before someone else does. I know the Oasis is built up as this amazing thing, but to me it felt like a Doctor Who/Black Mirror episode where humanity has let things die around them so they can live in this fake reality instead. It should be a cautionary tale, not something that’s a symbol of hope or something to stride for.
Yeah, the world they are living in sucks, but how much of that suckyness was brought on because of the Oasis? And I’m not talking about the band. Maybe they’d make things better for themselves if they just brought the whole thing down. Which is where I thought they were going with the plot. But nope, it mostly just went with Charlie getting his chocolate factory by saving The Matrix.
Ready Player One… best way to describe it would be… well, two films popped into my head while watching it. The obvious one, Willy Wonka. The other film that popped into my head was Robocop 3. Not 1 or 2 but the shitty 3rd one they made to appeal to a younger audience.
The comparison might have to do with the fact both films deal with evil corporations and kids having to stop them… I know Robocop isn’t a kid, but he does eat baby food, so…
This film is a hodgepodge of a bunch of different things. It’s a movie about Easter eggs, which I guess is why they released it around Easter. Trying to list or spot all the references is impossible. Though I’m sure someone has already made a Youtube video pointing them all out.
But what is this movie trying to say? Is it a referendum on getting rid of net neutrality? Evil money hungry corporations stepping in, doing whatever they can to make a profit from you, constricting your freedom in the process? Maybe.
The main villain in this film is a corporation called IOI, Innovative Online Industries. Their goal is to take something free like the Oasis (the internet) and turn it into a pay to play format, an advertisement ad nightmare. So basically Youtube. You don’t what those ads, well you gotta fork over a subscription fee with different tiers available for how much you’re willing to pay. Much like what internet companies will most likely start doing now that they can. You wanna stream Netflix? Well, you’ll have to pay a special fee for that. Our company is a subsidiarity of this streaming site, so we’re going to throttle your internet if you try watching anything from our competitors. This company owns this news outlet, so we are going to block access to any other news outlets. A bit extreme, but hypothetically, they could do that.
Which is why they have laws in place for tv manufactures from controlling what you can watch on their tvs.
Or maybe Ready Player One is saying something about the state of the videogame industry these days with their loot boxes and micro transactions.
By the end it doesn’t really matter since it all boils down to the generic savior saves the day and gets the girl, that old played out scenario. So I guess add Tron to the list of films this is like as well.
Wade Watts lives in the Stacks with his aunt. The Stacks is like the name implies, just a bunch of trailers stacked on top of each other. It’s a cool design, I love the imagery of it, so much so I attempted to recreate it in a settlement for Fallout 4. Unsuccessfully however.
Wade’s alter ego is Parzival, his avatar for the online virtual reality game The Oasis. A game everyone plays. It isn’t fully delved into, but I’m pretty sure just about all of society runs through the Oasis. It’s how they buy things, go to work, even how they go to school. It’s never fully said in the film however, only hinted at.
Everyone seems to be pretty poor, but like anything there’s an even lower level of poor. But even poor people seem to have access to the Oasis. Much like internet at public libraries do? Maybe less hobos publicly masturbating in them though.
The Oasis is the brainchild of introvert James Halliday. Who I’m guessing is somewhere on the spectrum. He is obsessed with 80’s pop culture, even though he’d be too young to be nostalgic for something he couldn’t have lived through. This is the future remember, so if anything, he’d be more nostalgic for late 90’s stuff or god forbid the early 2000’s. If it’s the 90’s, where are all the *69 references and heroin chic fashion? Where are all the payphones and pagers?! Are people nostalgic for payphones? I mean, people are still into cassette tapes, so who knows what people are nostalgic for these days.
Halliday is considered a god among the masses, so when he dies it’s a national tragedy. More like world-wide tragedy. But before he died, he implemented one last Easter egg into the game. There are three keys hidden throughout Oasis. Collect all three and you gain complete control over everything, even the company which is worth billions. Or did he say trillions? Either way, it’s an offer too good to pass up. That means everyone and their mother are now after these keys. But they aren’t just laying around for anyone to find, they are hidden and the only way to find them is to find clues through Halliday’s memories.
So because of this, everyone now has a deep love for all things 1980’s. They even brought back the old Doritos bag. How about they bring back the guacamole Doritos, goddamn it!
It has been five years since Halliday has died and so far the only clue anyone has found about the keys is this epic unbeatable city-wide race. Everyone competes but no one ever finishes it, the main obstacle being King Kong who no one can get by.
While running the unbeatable race, Parzival crosses paths with Art3mis riding the motorcycle from Akira. Parzival is riding in the DeLorean from Back to the Future because of course he is. I just recently bought the 25th anniversary bluray collection, so I’m no stranger to the draw of those films either.
Here is where things start to hit the YA wall. The romance. Not that I’m against romance in my action sci-fi films, in fact I think it helps it. Just look at the old Star Wars films and the newer ones. What’s missing from the new films? Romance! Unless you count Finn and Rose.
And like Finn and Rose, not for a second was I invested with Parzival and Art3mis’ budding relationship. Honestly, I thought Art3mis was just using Parzival to get the keys from him. He was instantly love stricken, as for her… not so much. She really didn’t seem all that into him and by the end it’s meant to be mutual, I still wasn’t convinced she liked him.
And this film is really banking on this romance working. One of Halliday’s biggest regrets was never kissing the girl he liked. So at the end when Wade is given the keys to the chocolate factory, he refuses to let not kissing Art3mis pass him by.
The Matrix’s Neo and Trinity this is not.
Parzival almost immediately figures out how to win the race after talking with Art3mis and taking a visit to the Halliday library, a giant museum full off Halliday’s past memories. To go forward, you must go backwards.
So when it’s race time, instead of going forward Parzival drives backwards, circumventing the whole race altogether, ending up at the finish line.
Now Parzival is hotshit. He has his name up on the board, marking him as a target to the sixers as they’re called. Players that belong to a corporation, who aren’t allowed player names.
The company being IOI, they specialize in making third party add-ons for the Oasis like full body suits that help you feel another player’s touch or pain from getting shot. Why anyone would want that last feature, I have no idea.
IOI wants the keys so they can have complete control over the Oasis, taking away the restrictions on advertisements and player subscriptions. The great thing about the Oasis is, everyone is given the same chance as everyone else, no matter your bank account. IOI wants to take that away. Essentially ruining the Oasis for everyone. Which is why I think this is a referendum on game companies like Ubisoft and EA.
Now that Parzival has the first key, suddenly Art3mis gives a shit now, wanting to help him figure out the rest of the clues for the next key. While doing their homework at the Halliday museum, and with the help of the museum curator, they discover Halliday once went on a date with his partner’s future wife. His partner played by Simon Pegg of all people. Who sounds weird with an American accent and should never do one again.
Parzival surmises that this event must have been pretty important to Halliday since she is only ever referenced once in the whole museum. Seeing as she was Simon Pegg’s Halliday’s partner and bestfriend’s wife it is kind of strange she isn’t mentioned more.
The girl wanted to go dancing but instead they stayed home and watched a movie. That movie being The Shining.
Now Parzival, Art3mis and their other friends take a trip inside the movie The Shining. This was actually pretty impressive. I’m not the biggest Shining fan, so I wasn’t nerding out or anything. Though I was wondering if they’d show that room with the guy dressed like a dog blowing a dude. They did not.
They run into Halliday’s date forcibly dancing with ghost zombies. Art3mis steps in, dancing with her, winning her the key.
By this time Parzival has already professed his love for Art3mis, which comes off as pretty creepy, dude. They barely know each other… in fact they don’t know each other, not really. Like Parzival’s bestfriend in the game Aech mentions, she could be anyone in real life, most likely a dude.
Turns out she isn’t a dude, just a hot chick with a birthmark covering her eye. Aech on the other hand wasn’t a dude at all, but a 30 year old black lesbian lady. Which ironically, is what I am.
Kidding. Or am I?
Now that they have two of the three keys, Sorrento, the head of IOI goes after Wade in real life, blowing up his trailer, killing his aunt. Though Wade seems only upset about this for a few minutes until he forgets all about it because he gets to meet Art3mis in real life.
So what are the chances of any of them actually living in the same city? Hell, the country. But they all seemed to be living right next to each other. How convenient for the plot.
The third clue… actually, the third clue is figured out off camera by the bad guys. It’s on planet Doom, the planet that is just used for epic player v player battles. I like that if you die in the game, you lose all your shit. All the armor or special weapons you’ve collected are now lost and you are right back where you started. That also includes money.
I really don’t know why everyone isn’t constantly killing each other to collect their shit. Have you not played a MMORPG before?
Meanwhile in the real world, Wade finds himself at the base of the resistance to IOI, a rag tag group of homeless people run by Samantha aka Art3mis. Not only does IOI want control of the Oasis, they also feature evil business practices, like using a military force to take people who can’t pay their debts, forcing them to data mine in the game, trying to earn back what they owe.
I honestly didn’t know this world even had police until the cops showed up at the end to arrest the bad guys. When they showed up I was slightly confused, wait, there are police in this city? Where were they when IOI blew up half of The Stacks? Most likely dicking around in the Oasis.
IOI repo police attack Samantha’s resistance camp, arresting her for her unpaid debts. Wade gets away and is immediately rescued by his friends from Oasis.
In a mobile setup, Wade goes back into the game and tries to get the final key. But Sorrento and his bounty hunter for hire I-R0k, have put up an impenetrable barrier, stopping anyone from entering.
Parzival makes a plea to everyone in the Oasis to come to planet Doom and stop IOI from winning. And the seizure inducing epic CGI battle commences.
Since Samantha is already at the IOI headquarters, she sneaks around and finds a way to get the barrier down. Now it’s a mad dash to figure out how to get the final key. The solution being play one of the first videogames that featured an Easter egg.
Pretty lame considering the last two challenges.
So Parzival wins, getting the last three keys and gets handed over the deeds for ownership of the Oasis. Then they lift off in their flying elevator…
And that is Ready Player One. I give it a SEE IT rating. I know I was a bit harsh on this film, not really highlighting the positives as much as I should, but I still really enjoyed this movie. I wish I had seen it in 3D, but sadly no one was showing it at an appropriate hour.
A lot of the visuals I thought where pretty spectacular, I wasn’t expecting this to be 80% CGI. Spielberg must have spent a whole week of filming on a set. Even then I bet most of that was second unit stuff. Easy paycheck for him. I guess that’s how he can do this and The Post at the same time.
I would have liked it if this film was more geared towards an older audience, maybe if the film had more to say it might have been interesting, maybe taken the plot in directions I wasn’t expecting, that would have been nice.
The fact Simon Pegg’s character was the Halliday museum curator made zero damn sense. Why introduce this button that shuts down the Oasis if it seriously has nothing to do with the story or is ever used? It felt like a bad Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy gag. Also, what the hell was Halliday meant to be at the end? Was he a ghost? What? Did he fake his death? Was he really Willy Wonka this whole time?!!! I guess we’ll never know. Also, it’s a film about Easter eggs, yet it doesn’t feature an after credits sequence? What? Talk about a missed opportunity.
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