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Worth a Watch? – Ready Player One (2018)

(c) Warner Bros. Pictures. Video Courtesy of IGN via Youtube.

A movie that clearly displays the gulf in quality between a trailer and the actual film, Ready Player One looks to cash in on the popularity of both The Hunger Games films and eighties pop culture without anything else remarkable to its name.

The plot of the film, such as it is, follows Wade Wilson in the near future of 2045, depicting a world where the VR technology known as OASIS is used by most of the population to escape confronting the fact their lives are falling into disrepair. Wade and four of his allies – Samantha Cook AKA Art3mis, Helen Harris AKA Aech, Zhou AKA Sho, and Toshiro AKA Daito – fight for the survival of OASIS in an “easter egg” hunt against the typical villain megacorporation Innovative Online Industries (IOI).

It’s a pretty cut and dry plot with no complexity to the characters’ actions and motivations. Every character in this film is either a heroic bastion of humanity that has the personality equivalent to white noise (especially Wade) or the kind of bad guy that spends their free time waxing their moustache and kicking puppies.

The easter egg hunt is quite a literal one with the film dripping in so much nostalgia you’ll need to launder your bed sheets afterward. The film lives in the eighties and with Stephen Spielberg at the helm, you’ll be spending two hours and twenty minutes getting hit by wave after wave of skin-deep shoutouts to Spielberg’s own work.

There’s also a bit of love for Stephen King with an entire sequence dedicated to The Shining and other pop culture shoved into the film at the expense of any character development or plot depth.

Most of the plot is dedicated to the hunt itself which is enjoyable enough when you switch your brain off and enjoy filling out your pop culture bingo card. The final scenes of the film shift to a large final battle out of nowhere which is used so much in modern movies and is as much a snore-fest in this movie as it always is.

There’s nothing new in this scene; you’ve seen it all before in better movies. So, the story’s nothing new but the film’s got a lot of nostalgia to it that’s fun to watch… give me a second just to check the spreadsheet

Yeah, the spreadsheet says that cancels out… so I guess my hands are tied.

What about the characters? I hear you ask.

That’s a great point, voice in my head! The acting from the cast is solid enough but there are no real standout performances.

The actor cast as Wade (Tye Sheridan) is decent but his character being the film equivalent of wallpaper paste doesn’t give him a lot of opportunities to demonstrate his acting range.

The rest of the cast aren’t given enough screen time, motivation, or depth to be little more than background players or stock characters rather than an essential part of the story.

Even with Ben Mendelsohn – who is capable of playing a great villain (just check out Captain Marvel) – his character’s nothing more than a bog-standard corporate CEO that’s been appearing in films for years, regardless of the genre.

On the cinematography side, Spielberg delivers his usual style of direction, keeping the film easy to follow and not have audiences getting too lost and distracted by all the whoosh bang kapow effects on screen which is probably better than paying attention to the insipid plot.

The special effects team for this film must have been put through their paces for this film considering 85% of it takes place in virtual reality. The effects are impressive and are the best part of this film, which isn’t a high bar to clear but has to be commended regardless. It didn’t make my eyes bleed which is better than most of the CGI used in the eighties.

Summing up, the film’s only worth watching for the nostalgia and the impressive special effects. On a whim, I picked up the 2011 novel by Ernst Cline to see whether the book was any better.

The novel was alright, I finished it in a couple of days, nothing too amazing or interesting but the characters (the fab foursome at least) get a bit more development so they’ve got the depth of a shallow puddle as opposed to no depth whatsoever.

On a side note, I hate Wade Wilson in the book. He goes from relatable to the kind of elite gamer gatekeeper types that ruin the fun for everyone. Though, I guess a shit personality is better than none whatsoever.

All in all, I’d avoid the film and book of Ready Player One… maybe go outside or something, I hear that it can be good for your health.


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