<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>


Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, TJ Miller, Hannah John-Kamen, Lena Waithe

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes


Visually frenetic and chock full of pop culture characters and references from the 80s and 90s, Ready Player One utilises none of them very well.

Nostalgia is working big time these days. Be it with the music used in movies or the pop culture references to the times when TV and movies were actually good and had characters that we’ll remember till the end of time. Unfortunately, one of the men who gave us many of these gems has abandoned good storytelling and character building for shallow CGI and gimmickry.


Sometime in the not-too-distant future, the world sucks! Why exactly, we are never told. It just does. And instead of making anything better, people have just buried their heads in a virtual reality world called the OASIS, created by the great shy geek James Halliday (Mark Rylance) who himself used video games to escape the real world. People choose to live in this world most of the time, accumulating coins, weapons and magic spells that will translate into real world prizes. Of course if they lose, it translates into real world debt, thanks to a corporation called IOI and its CEO Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn).

Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) must crack the ultimate mystery of the OASIS: a mega-prize game constructed by Halliday before he died that would bestow trillions of dollars and this world of avatars to the victor. Because in real life poor Wade can’t really be anything worthwhile of course. When even Steven Spielberg has little hope for the future of the real world, we know that we’re all pretty much doomed.


Of course the ingenious Wade cracks the clues and proceeds down the yellow brick road to the finish line with help from Artemis (Olivia Cooke) and his buddy Aech (Lena Waithe). But IOI and Sorrento follow them, hell bent on winning, no matter the cost. Defeating them in the real world is the only option. At least they get the importance of the real world. Our heroes seem content to live in the CGI fantasy where they can be anything they want. That they choose to be stereotypical cute boy and sexy girl avatars shows us how little imagination the creators of this film have.

You’ll see T-Rex, Godzilla, Robocop, the DeLorean from Back to the Future with a Knight Rider red bar light on the front grill. The Iron Giant, Chucky, lots of Star Trek memorabilia, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica toy ships show up, but not one of them plays a substantial role in the plot. They are all just there to tell us how much time and money probably went in to getting all these copyright properties in one film. Far from impressive. Also, Real Player One fails to create any new, distinctive or memorable character or piece of legend like the symbols that litter the landscape of this lacklustre world.


Lots of CGI battles take place. There is a bit of CGI and real world footage that is merged in a scene involving The Shining movie, which is the only intriguing part of Ready Player One. But the makers of the movie didn’t dwell on the mystery of the plot for long, choosing instead to just make a video game to show us how much they miss the good ol’ days. This is not what the good old days were about.

What’s even more depressing is at the end of the film, instead of choosing to change the planet or do something more meaningful for their lives, the CGI world of OASIS is just shut for two days a week for people to kiss and cuddle before they get back to living in the violent and depraved fantasy world they’ve inherited. A sad message and one not in tune with the times when young people are standing up and fighting for their lives against gun violence. They choose not to bury their heads in their devices. So at least we can be thankful Ready Player One doesn’t mirror the real world. And it never should. Shame on Spielberg and his partners for making a film like this.


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