Movies based around video games are usually prone to a major ratings and box office flop. With movies like “Need for Speed”, the “Tomb Raider” movies and all of the “Resident Evil” movies, it seems like the genre is cursed, with only a single exception of “Wreck It Ralph.” However, Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One”, based on the book of the same name by Ernest Cline, means to remove that curse and make a great video game movie. And overall, it does.
The movie stars Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts, also known as his in-game name as Parzival, alongside Olivia Cooke as Samantha Cook/Art3mis (yes it’s spelled that way), and Ben Mendelsohn as big bad Nolan Sorrento. The movie is set in the year 2045 in both the real world in Columbus, Ohio and “The Oasis,” the video game everyone’s playing. The creator of the game, James Halliday (Mark Rylance) has died and along with his death, a quest for an easter egg in the game was unlocked. Whoever found the easter egg by finding 3 keys first would get full control of the game and his stock of his company, valued at half a trillion dollars. The main premise of the story is Parzival searching for these keys with in game friends Art3mis, Aech (Lena Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao) and Daito (Win Morisaki) all while evading the evil company IOI lead by Sorrento who are trying to get the egg first to gain control of the game and the most powerful company in the world.
The main draw of the movie for most viewers is the sheer amount of references to pop culture found in the movie. You will find everything from King Kong and Mechagodzilla, to Tracer from “Overwatch” and the DeLorean from “Back to the Future.” Half of the time I spent watching the movie I was searching for more references to games, movies and TV shows. The other half was spent admiring just how the movie looked. They didn’t overdo the CGI in this movie, despite it being mostly CGI. The CGI was done in such a way that made you believe that it was both real and within a video game by not being too realistic, but realistic enough.
The characters were believable too. Wade is a nerdy gamer who studies the creator of the game to try to figure out how to get to the egg first and Sheridan plays this out very well in his own awkward way. Cooke plays Art3mis really well too, as being the badass go-getter girl in the game and the still badass but somewhat self conscious girl in real life.
However, the movie isn’t without its flaws. I personally didn’t come away from the movie loving it. I thought it was good and had plenty of funny moments, but it just wasn’t incredible. Everything about the story is good, but nothing stands out as being great. Most of the story was pretty predictable. The ending was incredibly cheesy too. Like almost eyes rolling out of the back of your head cheesy. But for most of the movie, the viewing experience is very enjoyable.
Being a video game movie, I didn’t have very high hopes for the movie, but I also had somewhat high hopes because it was a Spielberg film, and “Ready Player One” came out as a middle ground between those two. Overall it was a good film and I would recommend going to see it, but it has its flaws and won’t blow you away with amazement. I give “Ready Player One” a B.