Ready Player One (PG-13)
I know what you’re thinking. Amanda, you have such an exciting life seeing these fantastic movies and writing oh so eloquently about them. How do you decide which of these fine films to see?
Excellent question, if there are actually good movies to see. This time of year is what I like to call a big screen wasteland. You won’t see any potential Oscar winners released in April because Hollywood bigwigs know that when awards season rolls around a whole eight months later, we won’t remember that amazing movie we saw back in April. So do you know what we get?
We get “Blockers,” a teenage sex farce, the 412th Tyler Perry movie, sequels to “Pacific Rim” and “Gnomes,” a remake of “Tomb Raider” and a horror movie called “Unsane.” Really Hollywood? Yes, there’s “Black Panther,” but as you know, Amanda only goes to superhero movies when other people make her go.
With so little to choose from and my deadline looming, I let Emma decide. She chose “Ready Player One,” telling me it was directed by Steven Spielberg and was doing well on Rotten Tomatoes.
Emma also said the movie was full of “Easter eggs.” I thought this had something to do with us seeing the movie on Easter but she explained to me that Easter eggs are references, jokes or images hidden in a movie scene. And apparently none of them are chocolate.
So, “Ready Player One” it was. The movie is based on a novel by Ernest Cline, set in a grim 2045. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) lives in the Stacks, a multi-level trailer park, in Columbus, OH. and like just about everyone else, passes his time putting on goggles and joining in the virtual reality world of the OASIS. There he is Parzival, a thinner, swifter version of himself with much better hair. His obsession with the late James Halliday (Mark Rylance), who invented the OASIS, has helped him advance in a contest planned by Halliday himself, where the player who can solve an elaborate puzzle, wins the OASIS, and Halliday’s fortune. So it’s like Willy Wonka except without chocolate. (notice the no-chocolate theme.)
In the real world Wade apparently has no friends. But in the OASIS he bonds with several players, including of course a potential love interest, Art3mis. Her real-world counterpart, Samantha, is trying to bring down Halliday’s former partner, and resident villain, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), a corporate creep who is enslaving gamers who rack up bad debt. He has a henchwoman who we know is evil because she has severe bangs. I’d describe more of the plot, but frankly, what I haven’t already forgotten, I didn’t understand.
“Ready Player One” is stunning visually. There were several times I thought “This would be so great in 3D,” and I almost never think that. The movie is a love letter to the 80’s so the music was just my speed. Those Easter eggs I mentioned before, refer to many, many pop culture images and references: King Kong AND Godzilla, Freddy Krueger and that creepy doll Chucky, an extended homage to “The Shining” and many more, but Emma says that I shouldn’t mention them because it would ruin your fun.
I’m guessing that Spielberg chose to make “Ready Player One” because he wanted to do something more fun than “The Post” or “Lincoln.” I’m sure the film’s intended audience will enjoy it. I appreciated the look of the movie and a few very Spielbergian moments, but the story never hooked me. Maybe if there was chocolate…
Ready Player One: 3 STARS