Ready Player One is director Steven Spielberg’s newest movie, which essentially focuses on the relationship teenagers nowadays have with the internet and video games. The movie is set in the year 2044, the earth has become increasingly overpopulated and because of this most people now live cooped up in giant trailer park towers with barely any space or privacy to themselves. The only escape people have from their generally terrible lives is an extremely developed virtual reality experience called The OASIS. The OASIS is a huge virtual world where you can do anything, be anyone and live your wildest dreams, it’s basically the internet on steroids. As the world around everyone became increasingly worse, the OASIS became more important and developed, in 2044 were at a point where the ‘in game’ currency you earn in the OASIS can actually be used to buy things in real life. The thing about the OASIS is though, that if your character dies in the OASIS, you lose everything in your account and have to completely start over from scratch. So the OASIS is as much part of peoples life for entertainment as for income, I won’t say exactly what, but there are predictably some financial unwise decisions made by people quickly hoping to cash in and get a better life.
The protagonist of the story is a teenager from Columbus called Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), He was born into a world with the OASIS, and understandably it’s the only place where he feels at home and can really interact with like-minded people. Without saying too much, the story is about the OASIS’s crater leaving behind 3 special hidden keys in the game, and if you find all 3 keys you become the sole owner of the OASIS. Innovative Online Industries (IOI), the leading tech developer in the world, desperately wants to get hold of the keys in order to customize the OASIS to their liking so they can maximize their profit unlike Wade who just wants to the OASIS to stay the way it is. IOI is led by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), who is basically the human incarnation of EA games, only looking to squeeze as much money out of every OASIS user as humanly possible while ruining the OASIS in the process. So it’s up to Wade and his companions to make sure IOI won’t get their hands on the keys and full control to the OASIS.
This movie gets a lot of things right, especially the whole vibe and feel to the OASIS is that type of childhood magic that just makes you fall in love with the movie. I think what the movie does best is connecting with current (and possible) future teenagers and their relationship with social media, video games and the internet. A major theme in the movie is the fact that Wade has a group of very close friends, but he’s only ever met them in the OASIS and doesn’t actually know what they look like. Just as in our world it’s increasingly more common for people to make friends all around the world through video games and social media platforms and through this become very close with someone they have never met in person. The visuals are absolutely fantastic as well, the movie doesn’t look hyper realistic because it isn’t attempting to be. It looks exactly like you would expect an advanced video game word like the OASIS to look like. The film has some stunning set pieces tied to multiple popular movies or video games and it all looks amazing, there’s plenty of references and easter eggs to old and new popculture multiple generations can appreciate. The OASIS is undoubtedly the real star of this movie, both visually and thematically.
The story that plays out in the OASIS can at times be a little cliche though and there’s a lot of small details that don’t really make sense at times or can raise questions for certain viewers with a sharp eye. Some of the supporting characters are also pretty thin and a couple of them feel more like token characters which results in them not getting any real development and more just being around for the sake of being around instead of actually contributing to the narrative. Nolan Sorrento is also far from complicated and a pretty straightforward villain most of the movie, but Ben MendelSohn luckily still does a pretty good job and makes him a little more interesting. The dialogue is decent, but won’t win any awards either. Overall there’s a lot of small specks, but luckily it’s nothing major so the film flows well all the way through.
In conclusion, the movie may have some small flaws and the story isn’t life changing, but the idea and implementation of the OASIS gives such a magical feel to the movie, that its fairly easy for most people to overlook the minor flaws throughout the movie and just get completely captivated in the spectacle and magic of this film.