Director Steven Spielberg
Genre Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Cast Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe
Release Date March 29th, 2018
From accomplished writer director and producer Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One is a highly anticipated sci-fi action adventure film based on the 2011 science fiction novel. The debut novel for American author Ernest Kline, Ready Player One became a New York Times bestseller. The story is set in a dystopian 2044 where amidst the depletion of natural resources the world relies on a virtual-reality world known as the “Oasis,” where players can do anything within the frame of their imaginations as long as they have the currency. The creator of the Oasis dies and leaves behind one final challenge, the search for an Easter egg that will give full ownership of his stake in the company. Wade Watts is sick of his unfulfilling life and he intends to find that Easter egg and change his fortune forever. For those of you who fall into the same category as my girlfriend and thought I was referring to an actual “Easter eggs”, here is the definition from the always reliable source Wikipedia (kidding, sort of).
“In computer software and media, an Easter egg is an intentional inside joke, hidden message or image, or secret feature of a work. It is usually found in a computer program, video game, or DVD/Blu-ray Disc menu screen). The name is used to evoke the idea of a traditional Easter egg hunt. The term was coined to describe a hidden message in a popular Atari video game that encouraged the player to find further hidden messages in later games, leading them on a 'hunt'.”
The cast includes Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance.
Bursting at the seams with enough 80’s and 90’s nostalgia to induce a coma, Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One is an EPIC visual experience that must be seen in theaters. I read the first quarter or so of the book after a friend recommended it to me, but didn’t finish due to an unproductive combination of distractions and the fact that the library wouldn’t allow a renewal due to other member’s hold requests (yes, I was too cheap to just buy it). Nonetheless, I was still amped about this film after the same buddy told me that it was his all-time favorite book. He is in his late 30’s and stressed the nostalgia the book brings for those of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, eras that continue to be popular for new television shows and movies to this day (Stranger Things anyone?!). And well, he was really onto something!
After watching Ready Player One I felt like I was transported back to my childhood, the days of slasher films like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elmstreet, and the demonic doll Chucky. Fun (or not so fun depending on if you were me back then) fact I used to be scared of that little doll to the point where my older brother would chase me around the video store when I was a kid holding the Chucky case and I would cry as I hid behind my parents, begging for them to make him stop- embarrassing I know. I was a huge horror fan back then and I am to this day (slightly less scared of Chucky though) so this was a real treat for me. Ready Player One also has a really cool reference to another classic horror film, but I won’t ruin the surprise. The references to old horror films is just scratching the surface of what we are treated with from a time full of life-altering pop culture, so be sure to brace yourselves.
The real star of Ready Player One is unquestionably the visuals, and boy are we given the top-tier treatment here. Spielberg has proven time and time again that impressive visuals are a strength of his, and he has been a trendsetter in that respect for decades with films like Jaws (1975), Jurassic Park (1993), Minority Report (2002), and The BFG (2016), just to name a few. Bottom line, whether he is digging deep into his CGI bag of tricks or going old school, his skills are unmatched. Ready Player One allows Spielberg to show off the leaps we have taken in the world of computer-generated imagery (CGI), and he creates an incredible experience for viewers. I found myself looking left to right and up and down consistently trying not to miss anything (which was impossible might I add) as epic battles ensued on-screen taking my senses on a wild ride.
I could talk about the incredible visuals for hours and hours, but you need to experience it for yourself to fully appreciate this world that has been created well beyond our greatest imaginations. I kept thinking to myself, “Man, we have come a LONG way with what is possible in film today”- it really is nothing short of incredible. I want to explore the Oasis for myself so bad!! Few films get the 3D treatment in theaters these days but Ready Player One reminds us that the technology is far from a simple gimmick, and this really is the best way to see it. So smash that piggy bank of yours and visit the best theater near you with the biggest 3D capable screen. The writing is a little weak and I didn’t really feel invested in the characters as much as I would have like to have been by the time the film ended, but it really wasn’t a huge issue for me. Spielberg did what he could in the 2 hour and 15 minute runtime and decided that the visuals should take front and center for the majority of the film, and I don’t dislike that decision one bit. You will find yourself looking forward to scenes that take place inside the Oasis as opposed to the alternative, but luckily the balance is weighed heavily in the favor of the virtual world.
I really enjoyed the cast for Ready Player One and felt like they made the right decisions, especially when deciding to give the lead roles to Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, and Ben Mendelsohn. I have been a fan of Sheridan for awhile now, although he remains relatively unknown to mass audiences, despite being named one of the Top 10 Actors to watch by Variety. The now 21-year old Texas native got his start at the young age of 14 in the Terrence Malick directed fantasy drama The Tree of Life, alongside a-list talent Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain (that’s good company if you want to build an acting career). Next, he starred in the critically acclaimed drama Mud, alongside Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon- and the rest is history.
In Ready Player One, Sheridan takes on the lead role of Wade/Parzival and I couldn’t have imagined a better actor to play this role. His ability to display raw emotion while presenting his unique personality was impressive. Like Variety said, this kid is an actor to watch, so be sure to check out anything he does in the future. Starring alongside Sheridan is 24-year old UK native Olivia Cooke, taking on the role of Samantha/Art3mis. Cooke is actually more unknown as she continues to try and carve out a place for herself in Hollywood, although fans of the series Bates Motel will recognize her right away. She also had a lead role in the disappointing 2014 horror film Ouija, but I really enjoyed her in one of my favorite coming-of-age films, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015). Cooke is a talented actress and she developed great chemistry alongside Sheridan, which was a huge part of the success of the film.
Mark Rylance is nearly unrecognizable in his role as Oasis creator Halliday, and I really enjoyed the level of emotion he put into a very complex character. A great deal of the weight of the film’s story rested on the shoulders of Rylance and he was great. Rylance also played the lead role in The BFG, so he seems to have a good working relationship with Spielberg. Simon Pegg played a small yet important role, so he also deserves a nod for a fantastic performance. The primary antagonist (bad guy) is played by veteran actor Ben Mendelsohn, an Australian native, who plays the greedy corporate suit Sorrento who is hell bent on controlling the Oasis himself. The supporting cast was solid as well with notable performances from Lena Waithe (Ghostbusters remake) and T.J. Miller, who helped add to the comic relief. As I mentioned previously, the spectacle of it all glazed over the writing a bit, making it difficult for the characters to make a lasting impression on viewers. Even with that considered, rest assured Ready Player One really doesn’t lose any of its juice because of it.
To summarize, Ready Player One is a genuinely immersive experience that looks and sounds incredible, and is another notch in the very full belt of famed director, writer, and producer Steven Spielberg. He is a pioneer in the industry and we should all sit back and really try to appreciate what he has done for the film and television industry. The character development may leave a few things to be desired, but viewers will be much too preoccupied by the roller-caster ride that is Ready Player One, so you won’t really care all that much. Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, and Ben Mendolsohn still put together high-quality performances to ensure nothing is left on the table.
Marvel has been having quite a run with blockbusters like Captain America: Civil war and Black Panther, but the world that Ready Player One creates is so unique and immersive that it sets this film apart at the very least due to the creativity and approach to the source material. Author Ernest Kline has openly discussed how much he enjoyed working with Spielberg and he hopes they can get a sequel greenlit in the future (fingers crossed). Now I feel like I have no choice but to start researching 4K T.V.’s with 3D capability because Ready Player One will make for the perfect addition to my Blu-ray 3D collection in a few months, and I will be sure to finish the book as well. Highly recommended.