Ready Player One is an incredible novel by Ernest Cline, but does it safely make the transition onto the big screen? With Steven Spielberg at the helm, I was nervous…
“So, how will they get this one wrong?” I asked myself, sitting down and preparing for the Hollywoodification of this incredible novel – the act of simplifying a plot and the destruction of any self-referential, dimension-bending niche humour in favour of occasionally throwing the odd old character on screen for the parents and keeping things easy to digest with a romance story and triumph of good over evil (example: Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy).
In the common universe we inhabit, a movie like this shouldn’t work. Of course, people have attempted this seemingly impossible feat – seeing the lucrativeness of going for the nerds and pandering to their cultural norms. But with the end result being Pixels (and we all know how that went…), it’s only fair we leave that in the past.
But this, dear reader, is no ordinary universe anymore. Either we have left the darkest timeline (hello, Community), or Spielberg has managed to make the seemingly impossible possible.
You can check out my random musings on the Twitch stream I ran just after attending the screening – the outpouring of my mind, as I try to gather information and form a solid opinion about Ready Player One. Continue on for the actual written review that came out of this brainstorm.
It’s the year 2045, and the world has basically turned into a sci-fi dystopian version of a Haven Holiday Park, as living spaces got smaller and people found a new life in the virtual world by entering the OASIS. The story revolves around one player – Wade Watts and his hunt for an Easter egg the developer had placed in the game before his death… At least it starts like that, until he becomes embroiled in a rebellion against a nefariously evil corporation and finds a love interest.
The story in and of itself is rather simplistic and kind of paint-by-numbers in formulaic traits. However, it’s the set dressing that really brings the experience to life, and this oddly oxymoronic visual style of futuristic sci-fi with a generous dollop of the nineteen-eighties makes a delicious feast for the eyes.
Ready Player One is a sensuous spectacular – a one-of-a-kind movie in sight and sound, which you absolutely need to see in 3D for the full experience. The CGI is convincing, the soundtrack blends nicely from operatic accompaniment to 80s bangers and the tone set by the sum of both these parts is one that will certainly resonate with all cinema goers, old and young.
Plus, I’ve seen many reviewers keen to instruct their readers to “look out for the geek culture cameos,” but to be honest, I won’t insult your intelligence as they really do just slap you in the face with their overtness.
The majority can be filed under the descriptive term of “gloriously random,” simply film creators exercising the creative freedom afforded to them by a film about entering multi-dimensional virtual spaces as video game levels – never talking down to gamers or dumbing down the references to reach a mass audience.
But one thing I can guarantee – you will not see them all. This film is a game within itself, where you are rewarded with new discoveries through every repeat viewing. The cheat sheet is the end credits (specifically: the list of trademark credits for what’s used), where I realised I’d spotted only roughly 25% of the total references.
Ready Player One is for the nerds and everyone else at the same time. Enough of a meta-destroying framework for the geeks of this world (me included), but enough of a simple, emotional drive for the others (such as my girlfriend) to be pulled in and enjoy.
What started as a night of scepticism, ended with me leaving the cinema with a beaming smile on my face – realising I’d just watched one of Spielberg’s finest films. 9/10
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.