Ready Player One Movie Review: A Blast of a Blockbuster

Logan Gaertner, Contributor

Do you know the feeling where you sit down in a movie theater with a big bucket of popcorn and a soda, and just want to be swept up in an action adventure and giggle with delight at what occurs on screen in front of you? This is the feeling that can be experienced to its fullest while experiencing the delight that is Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.
Ready Player One takes place in the year 2045, and the world is basically at an all-time low. Reality is terrible for the people still living in the world, and the form of escapism that people take advantage of to escape the miserable pain of reality is the OASIS, a virtual reality gaming simulation where anyone can be anything they want to be. The OASIS was created by a super-rich nerd named James Halliday (played stupidly good by Mark Rylance). Before Halliday died (don’t worry, this is not a spoiler, it’s in the first five minutes of the movie), he hid an easter egg deep within the OASIS, and whoever finds the egg gains control of the OASIS, and half of a trillion dollars. This is what the film’s protagonist, Wade Watts (remarkably portrayed by Tye Sheridan), is trying to accomplish over the course of the movie.
Where Ready Player One shines the brightest is the unseen talent behind the camera. Steven Spielberg, the cinematic equivalent to the best football or basketball player that first comes to mind, delivers another visually arresting, heartfelt, edge of your seat blockbuster. The action set pieces that are spread out across Ready Player One’s runtime are not only visually stunning, but the action is always captured in the best possible way, all the way down to the framing, cinematography, and creativity of each individual sequence. The directing, visual effects, and action set pieces are all equally fabulous!
Speaking of fabulous, this adventure is filled to the brim with 80’s pop culture references and homages. What’s even more impressive than the clever nods to things that we all love as a society from popular culture is that the references never come off as tired or desperate; they are just a part of the universe, and they could have easily come off as on the nose, and they thankfully did not.
Now, a film can be all pretty visuals, but have no substance or care put into the characters and narrative; fortunately, that’s not the case here. The characters are simplistic, yet sympathetic, and they are all portrayed by very convincing and talented actors and actresses. Tye Sheridan plays a quiet leader very well as the film’s lead Wade Watts. A character full of passion, but maybe not as familiar with reality as he should be. The film standouts consist of Ben Mendelsohn as the corporate baddy Nolan Sorrento, Mark Rylance as the socially awkward genius James Halliday, and Olivia Cooke as the central mentor and love interest to Wade, Art3mis. Ben Mendelsohn has just as much fun playing a villain character as the audience does watching him on screen. Mark Rylance is surprisingly real portraying the quiet genius, and Olivia Cooke just embodies charisma as Art3mis.On top of all of the movie’s positive qualities, the film’s message, without giving anything away, is both thought-provoking and relevant to the world’s current way of life.
Ready Player One, like any other film, is not without its determinants. There are three major problems, one being that there are a significant number of obvious exposition dumps, and not all of them come off as convincing or natural dialogue. The simple tactic of showcasing information as opposed to telling would have benefitted it in a few places. There are also a handful of moments that don’t have the emotional gut punch that the movie intends it to have. The movie also starts to drag and go on a little longer than it needs to towards the end.
However, despite these flaws, the movie is still a ton of fun! Witnessing another great addition to this beloved filmmaker’s filmography is just as satisfying as the film itself. The fun and relatable characters, the jaw-dropping visual effects and action set-pieces, the cleverly placed and desperate-free pop culture references, the relevant and well-portrayed theme and message, and surprises that will guarantee a smile from everyone in the audience. Ready Player One will remind audiences of why they go to the movies!