When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.
Speilberg is as busy as ever, having directed four new films released in the last four years no less, with Ready Player One following up Bridge of Spies, The BFG, and The Post, not to mention his other activities. With Ready Player One Speilberg brings a new standalone film to screens, one that delivers some thrilling sequences while trying to tap into your nostalgia films of the past.
The story of Ready Player One is probably its weakest point, the premise is simplistic as the film opens with a streamlined narrative that quickly explains all the important points the audience needs to know, before diving into the films setup. It’s a quest film which sees the main character charged with solving a mystery, recovering some key items, and passing a series of tests to save the day.
There’s a lot of opportunity here to delve further into the setting, improve the world building, flesh out some of the concepts which are raised and then dropped almost immediately, but instead Ready Player One keeps things fairly superficial, which ultimately undermines the strength of its voice when delivering the closing act.
Further to its story and setting coming up inadequate, the same can be said of its characters, with backgrounds and motivations either forgettable or mostly irrelevant to the film. There’s almost no development arc for these characters in the script, leaving them little else to do other than completing a series of tasks set before them. When they are fleshed out a little through backstory reveals, the details aren’t relevant to the film and are forgotten as quickly as they are raised.
Where the film does deliver some great entertainment value however is in its visual effects, and action sequences. The attention to detail is fantastic, there’s so much happening on screen it’s difficult to know where to look. It’s a slick looking film with excellent production values, and the creative result of all the artistic effort that has gone into the sequences for the Oasis is an absolute pleasure to watch.
The environment of the Oasis gives the filmmakers a pass to be as extreme as they like with big action moments from explosive car chases, to sci-fi combat zones, while defying any laws of reality they wish for the purpose of what looks good in the sequence.
Nostalgia is obviously a key ingredient here, and it is absolutely jam packed with easter eggs, and references to films from the last few decades. Without being a sole focus of the film, and despite being so self-indulgent as to include so many, it really does ramp up the enjoyment factor seeing things like the DeLorean on the big screen again, or a number of beloved characters from the history of film, even if for a few fleeting moments. Where this angle does work best though is when it is more cleverly worked in as a plot element, rather than set dressing, and there is one extensive sequence where this occurs.
Performances are good all over, with the stand out of the film being Ben Mendelsohn, and Mark Rylance in a smaller but key role. Tye Sheridan is sound without a lot of dramatic material to really work with, the short comings in the performances are more from the writing than the cast.
In summary Ready Player One is an enjoyable film, packed with references that a lot of audiences will no doubt get a kick out of, and the visual spectacle is worth the price of admission. However, it unfortunately falls short without quite delivering something as compelling as it could have. I’m giving it 7 out of 10, Ready Player One is in cinemas from 29 March 2018.
NOTE: Check out our interview with Hannah John-Kamen who plays F’Nale Zandor.