Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a futurist Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; featuring more references to pop culture than you ever thought possible. The plot focuses on a video game developer who creates a virtual world, called the Oasis, which is up for grabs after his death. With people across the world searching for an easter egg, that will grant them control over the Oasis, passing tests and traps along the way so far so Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This film wears its influences on its sleeve, ranging from King Kong to Battle Toads, in every way Ready Player, One is a love letter to the pop culture of the 80’s and 90’s. Spielberg helms this ship of nostalgia, bringing with him all the heart and magic that made his earlier films such hits. Said heart is shown through Wade, (Sheridan) and Samantha, (Cooke). Sheridan makes for a likeable lead with his Wade feeling oddly relatable throughout. Olivia Cooke’s Samantha is amazing right from the off, with the decision to make her the leader of some sort of resistance against the evil IOI being incredibly interesting; though not in the book. Furthermore, the villain Nolan Sorrento, (Mendelsohn) is a fantastic presence throughout feeling both very menacing, whilst also being quite human. The film struggles with supporting characters, for a start, they introduce an ally for Sorrento with F’Nale, (Played by Hannah John-Kamen). What makes F’Nale so bad is that until writing this review I didn’t know what her name was. Furthermore, the film does not develop the characters of Sho and Datio, (played by Phillip Zhao and Win Morisaki respectively). What makes this so egregious is the fact that both of these characters are members of the “High Five”, with the film instead decides to focus on the trio of Sheridan, Cooke and Mendelsohn characters; everyone else is reduced to forgettable background fodder. The references and cameos are mostly done to great effect; though they do occasionally pull you out of things. Finally, as this film is in a virtual world, only featuring a few short sequences in the real world, it is very much CGI heavy. Said CGI is a mixed bag, with the Oasis avatars for the main cast being particularly bad. This is the clearest with Samantha’s avatar of Art3mis who belongs on the wrong side of the uncanny valley. In closing, this film benefits greatly from old school Spielberg magic. However, fans of the book will feel somewhat disappointed, as a lot of the characters aren’t fleshed out and the film is too reliant on pop culture references. Overall it is a good popcorn movie but not a must-see.
Reviewed by Luke