Recently I got a Playstation VR set for my birthday and since then I’ve spent a lot of hours in different virtual worlds. So I understand very well that in films such as Ready Player One the population spends more time in this artificial environment than in the actual world. As one already suggested at the beginning, this virtual fantasy world is so alluring because there’s so much to experience. But also because you can be so much.
Just like in 2047: Virtual Revolution, it seems as if all of humanity has lost its contact with reality and is wasting their entire fortune on digital upgrades and gadgets and walk around their entire free time with such futuristic-looking VR glasses. Unfortunately, the moral is the same as in this last film. Namely, that one has to cut the virtual bonds and live back in reality. Perhaps there’s an element of truth here. In today’s society, the art of communicating and socializing is going to waste because we do this only in a digital way.
The story itself was a bit straightforward and simple. The day one of the designers (James Halliday) of the virtual playground OASIS drew his last breath (in reality), he reveals that he has hidden a so-called “Easter egg” in OASIS. Who finds it wins a mega top prize that gives the honest finder total control over OASIS and inherits Halliday’s fortune. We, of course, get a race between two camps. On the one hand, young Wade (Tye Sheridan) who, along with some of his online friends, eagerly starts looking for the hidden keys. Not only for the fame and fortune but also to get back at IOI (Innovative Online Industries). This company wants to win the main prize at any cost so it becomes the largest company in the world. So, Wade gets the CEO Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) as a formidable opponent whose inexhaustible source of income gives him an advantage. Needless to say who will finally get the virtual short stick.
No, the story itself is not really epic. The images and the overall atmosphere, however, are. The first assignment with the extremely difficult road race packed with obstacles was something to drool over. The fact that a T-Rex and a frantic King Kong appeared in it, was perhaps slightly exaggerated. But for the rest, this part did look exquisitely and flashy. I would also like to participate in that race. Ditto for the Doom location. To experience a death match on that planet, must also be extremely energetic and exciting. But mainly Ready Player One is a huge wink and nostalgic look back on the 80s. And this in all sorts of areas. The music, the film and the game world from this era, are extensively praised. So the whole film is stuffed with references to it. The DeLorean from Back to the Future. A floating dance floor with the soundtrack of the Bee Gees. The Atari games and a t-shirt from Joy Division. And a multitude of famous characters who come to act as an avatar in the VR world. You can be sure that every scene contains a reference. It’s as if Steven Spielberg not only sends the heroes in search of the Easter Egg but also assigns the audience the same task. Find as many hidden references as possible.
If you’re an avid gamer, you’ll be thrilled about this film, since most of it is purely a graphic spectacle. The opening scene where the world of OASIS is presented in is a breathtaking and impressive spectacle. For others, it may be a bit too much. It’s as if you’re at a friend’s house looking at the tube, while he’s playing a super fantastic game. A little frustrating. But, I’ve amused myself with this movie. Apart from a few issues (I don’t understand how Wade could get his installation working in the back of a van in the middle of a junkyard), for me, this film was really quite wonderful. And it was pretty self-explanatory that the girl behind the avatar Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) also be a natural beauty in RL. I’m not really a big fan of Steven Spielberg and think some of his films really weak, but here he succeeds again in making my film heart beat faster. And not only because I’m actually a bit hooked to the VR phenomenon (even though it doesn’t yet have the sharpness as shown here). Ready Player One is a bit like The Goonies meets Tron. But with more technological wizardry and a different kind of treasure as a reward.