Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance.
Written by: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Running Time: 140 minutes
READY PLAYER ONE is a fast food kind of film.
It’s a film that would, ordinarily, be released during the summer so the kids could come see it. Steven Spielberg has created a very exciting, colorful, and enticing sort of world within a world.
THE OASIS, is the virtual world where nearly everyone in the world goes to escape the dirt and grunginess of the real world. Using virtual reality gear and access to the internet, you can be anyone you want, look any way you want, and enter any adventure you want.
It’s a magical place built by Halliday (Mark Rylance).
Steven Spielberg’s OASIS is pretty much everything it should be—in fact, there is so much going on and so many iconic figures being represented, that READY PLAYER ONE will be, when it comes out on DVD, a film that is paused as much as played as viewers try to find every character that appears.
Our hero, Parzival, played by Tye Sheridan, is one of those with a true love for the game. He, like every other gamer in the OASIS, is looking for the three easter eggs left behind when Halliday died. Each of the easter eggs gives the finder wealth and status—and the person who finds all three will gain complete control of the OASIS itself.
For Parzival, that would be fun. For Sorrento, played by Ben Mendelsohn, it means much more. It means changing the rules of the OASIS and giving his company (Yes, he’s an evil Corporate Weasel—we’ve never seen that before, have we?) the ability to put advertisements all over the OASIS and its gaming worlds.
When Parzival solves one of the clues to get to the first easter egg, he meets Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), and quickly forms a romantic attachment. Together, the two work their way through the second clue—and find the second easter egg.
This does not sit well with Mendelsohn who first tries to bribe, then attempts to kill Parzival, missing the young man and, instead, killing his aunt and her boyfriend.
For the first time Parzival finds himself playing for real-life stakes and the plot of the movie follows him and his friends as they battle Mendelsohn and his minions—the employees of IOI (Innovative Online Industries).
That fight spills into the real world where Mendelsohn grabs Samantha—the real person behind Art3mis—which forces Parzival into a final confrontation that will determine the fate of the OASIS and all who go there to avoid the real world.
READY PLAYER ONE is an entertaining enough film. The basic plot pitting the little guy against the giant corporation is nothing new. The acting is serviceable and secondary to the special effects. Those effects are state-of-the-art and so colorful, vivid, and over the top that they make the real-world scenes look dull in comparison.
That is, in fact, one of my problems with the film. Everyone seems to spend all their time playing in the OASIS. Who works? Who keeps the machine of industry running?
More, where are the police? Mendelsohns’ company is doing many things that seem illegal—yet no one seems to care.
Ah well, this isn’t supposed to be a thinking picture—this is supposed to be popcorn and cotton candy and it certainly accomplishes that. Watch this film for the fun—the fun of seeing the Iron Giant in action, the fun of seeing Mecha-Godzilla and Kong and any number of other characters. Enjoy it for that—because there’s really nothing else here.
One more thing—this is a movie about the hunt for easter eggs—yet it has no easter egg of its own—there’s nothing at the end of the credits.