What if the quest for Willy Wonka’s golden ticket replaced chocolate with video games and the magic factory with a life-threatening virtual reality game system? Steven Spielberg’s highly anticipated Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name, sets the stage for a dystopian life full of more gaming and pop culture references you can throw a fireball at. Ready Player One is part of our list of all the movies coming out in 2018 that gamers have to watch. SPOILERS AHOY.
In the year 2044 everyone lives in a virtual reality system called the OASIS. Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation, or the OASIS, is a virtual world that’s basically replaced the physical world. In the OASIS people go to work, school and generally live, earning money in the system to work outside of it.
Earth has become a Wall-E-like world (more trash than floating chairs, unfortunately) where the majority of the populace, including our teenage protagonist Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), live in trash and poverty. So as such spend all their time playing a virtual reality video game to escape their actual reality. Good to know the future doesn’t seem too far off.
Just before his death the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), or who I refer to as Jeff Kaplan 2.0 developed the ultimate Easter Egg hunt. A three-part puzzle hidden within the OASIS to discover the Halliday’s Easter Egg. The reward? Complete and control dominion over the OASIS.
When Wade aka Parzival, unlocks the first of the three keys to Halliday’s game he goes from 0 to 100 pretty quick. Attracting the unwanted attention of Innovative Online Industries (IOI) CEO Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). The goal of IOI? Basically what any publisher wants more monies. We’re talking pay to play, advertising, DLCs, the works. Basically what any scumbag video gaming company wants.
A treasure trove of pop culture references, film buffs, video game nerds, and music fanatics will all find something they recognize and love in this film, whether it is in the soundtrack, dialogue, or scattered throughout the world itself. Largely but not exclusively rooted in 1980s pop culture trivia, everything from Batman to Marty McFly, Joan Jett to The Iron Giant, and Star Wars basically everything but the kitchen sink makes an appearance.
Ready Player One is just fun. It’s an action film filled with fantasy, quirky humour and some extremely smooth VFX. Dat facial animation tho. The world itself is alright, messy and filled with endless detail, exactly what you might expect from a user-generated MMO. Though much of the film is spent looking at CGI avatars rather than the character’s real human faces, the transitions between scenes in the real and virtual worlds are smooth and natural in the universe the filmmakers have set up. There is never a dull moment and endless silly humor.
The character of James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, is the true embodiment of the film. Seemingly a little silly at first, he is really just full of childhood wonder and nostalgia. Combining this with the technology of the future, he creates something new for everyone to enjoy while, cheesy as it sounds, learning a little something about life and friends along the way.