Ready Player One
I was surprised to discover CFR has not reviewed this film because I know she loved it. But then she’s a huge geek and I’m only a big geek. I had thought the geek level of the film would overwhelm me when it came out, plus I was sick to death of the heroic everyman trope that had been done twenty seven bazillion times by Hollywood and couldn’t bear yet another one. I’m not grief stricken that I waited so long to see this movie, but I am glad I finally got around to it. It surprised me, and I like surprises.
Columbus, Ohio in the year 2045 is the fastest growing city in the world because the biggest, most immersive computer game in the world, Oasis, is based there. This is one of several logical problems that bothered me enough to make a note while watching. If the game is realistic to the nth degree, that suggests the internet is hella better than it is currently. Why does a person have to physically move to the game’s base of operations to play or even work there? And everyone plays it. Everyone. It is a panacea to the woes of an overburdened society, allowing everyone to be whatever and whoever they want in unbelievably wide and imaginative worlds. There is hope for the downtrodden multitudes, though. The game’s creator left an easter egg hidden deep inside the worlds that when found gives the bearer the keys to the multi trillion dollar company.
Parzival, the everyman hero (Tye Sheridan) is a great player handicapped by his low income status. He can’t afford the better gear everyone assumes you need to dig through the worlds for the easter egg. What he does have is an encyclopedic knowledge of the pop culture worlds the creator based Oasis on, and a deep understanding and sympathy for the creator himself. On yet another attempt to win a frenetic race to a literal key inside the online world /confused look glyph/ Parzival meets his major online crush, famously great player Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) and of course they immediately bond. I began to like the story more when I realized director Steven Spielberg chose two actors who are not gorgeous to play these characters. These everyman heroes actually look like regular people, especially Tye with the ugliest lips in Hollywood.
I quickly realized the overwhelming geek level I had been concerned with is actually so gigantic, so deeply thought out and portrayed, and so lovingly embraced that I had to stop paying attention and making mental lists of what was in it and just let it flow over me and enjoy the frenetic and gorgeously rendered action mystery romance flick. I especially liked that the pop culture references weren’t all current for the young people who think watching black and white movies is a horrible inconvenience. One was an audio reference to a 1950s movie, a bit of sound effect that I was proud to recognize and made me realize there was so much that everyone can find something esoteric. The film viewer is immersed in ways most movies don’t manage.
The graphics are outstanding and unfailingly creative. My favorite is I-R0k’s avatar which marks him as a bigger than life bad guy, though I found the character so fun I would enjoy watching a whole movie based on that character. The voice work is outstanding all the way through, and the live action acting is mostly okay.
There were occasional logic problems that need to be ignored, like why does an avatar need to be literally built in a garage inside Oasis rather than on a computer in the real world. Images and ideas that are supposed to establish science fiction cred, like drone delivered pizza and crypto currency, have already come to our real world, only a few years past the release of the film. I found that a little sad.
This movie surprised me. I liked how actually everyman all the good guys are. It’s a very pretty film with a straightforward story that we’ve seen twenty seven bazillion times before but the pop culture motif makes up for it handily. For a fun time, see this movie. It won’t change your life, but it will probably give you a moment or two to pat yourself on the back when recognizing a reference or fifty.
CFR: In Addition: *giggle* *heehee* *Shhhh!* Don’t tell Mildred but I haven’t seen this yet. Yet. 😉