Undeterred by his last book-to-film adaptation mishap, Spielberg dusts himself off and tries again with Ready Player One, which is based on the 2011 New York Times bestselling book of the same name. Spielberg’s star power reaches further than most, so even his most loyal supporters wondered whether he’d lost his touch, when his live-action adaptation of The BFG performed poorly at the 2016 box office, making a dismal $59 million profit, one of Spielberg’s worst performing films to date. Thankfully after his box-office success with this year’s Oscar-nominated The Post, it all seems to have been an unfortunate one-off. But for any of those still in doubt, this spring’s Ready Player One is proof that Spielberg hasn’t lost his touch just yet.
The year is 2045 and after years of civil unrest and overpopulation, the Earth is now, to put it politely, a polluted pile of junk. Living amongst this pile of junk is American teen Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan). He resides in The Stacks, a poverty-stricken area of Columbus, Ohio, made up of stacked trailer homes and abandoned scrap metal. Like most, Wade copes with his bleak surroundings by putting on a VR head set, a special pair of gloves, and entering a virtual reality universe known as the OASIS.
The OASIS is a place like no other, where users can choose to be whoever or whatever they want, be it ninja, giant robot, or video game character. They can spend their time aimlessly wandering the vast OASIS universe, or even risk their lives engaging in combat for virtual money. The options are quite literally endless. The co-creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, passes away unexpectedly but he leaves behind one final game for OASIS players after his death. He has hidden 3 keys within the OASIS but each key only presents itself once a player completes one of three extremely difficult challenges. With all three keys the player can access the prize: half a trillion dollars and complete control of the OASIS. Wade Watts is one of thousands trying to complete the quest first; and so begins what may just be the most exhilarating adventure film in recent cinema history.
Think fun, thrills and first class entertainment; Ready Player One is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Steven Spielberg takes us on a hair-raising journey, catapulting us into the awesomeness that is the OASIS and never once taking his foot off the pedal. We’re instantly lost in the film’s wonder. We’re told ‘you can climb Mount Everest with Batman’ if you fancy, or race your car through the virtual streets of New York, which are home to car-wrecking-wrecking-balls and an angry giant ape who we can assume to be King Kong. In the OASIS there`s no such thing as ‘no such thing’, and in the words of Mean Girls math whizz Cady Heron, ‘the limit does not exist’.
Ready Player One is a fun-filled adventure too complex to put into words. What’s also too complex is its script. It starts off as the film’s biggest asset but soon becomes its downfall. At first the amount of information thrown at us is quite easy to catch, but as the plot develops, the pace quickens, and it soon evolves from playing a simple game of catch to being pelted with balls from the shooting machine. Co-screenwriter Ernest Cline, who also wrote the Ready Player One novel, condenses the book’s material as best he can but it’s still far too much information to digest, especially given the film’s already visual intenseness. Cline and fellow co-screenwriter Zak Penn do however excel at the comedic writing which is quick-witted and pops up at all the right moments.
Experiencing Ready Player One is like stepping inside a video game. It’s brimming with pop culture references, from Alien to the Iron Giant to Minecraft, so if you are or ever were a film buff or video game lover, this is the film for you. The film’s almost complete lack of A-listers is also what makes it so special. The cast are well-known but they’re not considered Hollywood’s elite. Bloodline’s Ben Mendelsohn plays baddie Nolan Sorrento, the CEO of a billion dollar tech company determined to win Halliday’s contest at any cost. Olivia Cooke plays Wade’s avatar crush Art3mis. She rides a motorcycle, has short red hair and just the right amount of sarcasm and sex appeal.
Ready Player One is an epic experience that must be seen to be believed. It’s yet another great Spielberg fantasy-adventure hybrid that will appeal to children and adults alike.There are talks of a Ready Player Two novel being in the works and I for one cannot wait.