I was totally ready… for ‘Ready Player One’. I’m sure that joke has been made already, but how could I resist? Just as nostalgia is driving a spate of recent movies I hope you will allow me the indulgence to use that joke. Because that’s what nostalgia driven media, cinema in particular, is- an indulgence. ‘Ready Player One’ may be based on a book but that book, it’s ideas, themes, and actions are driven by the memories of a subset of the population repackaged for a different subset… and it works.
Here I’m going to focus on the movie in a spoiler-free way. Set in a dystopian near future with a similar aesthetic in the ‘real world’ portions of this movie to ‘Hunger Games’ or ‘The Maze Runner’ movies by contrasting that look with the aesthetic of the ‘Oasis’ portions of the story, which happen in a video game like full virtual reality ‘super internet’, this movie has far more a fantasy feel than many would expect. Basically ‘Ready Player One’ welcomes you to your digital video game fantasies while providing a hero’s journey across both worlds.
Characters show growth both in the form of their digital avatars and as people in the real world. The action is tight and quite enjoyable, even if I personally thought one of the solutions to the problems facing them was handled in a way that felt anti-climactic. It was the middle of the first act but visually I might have handled the shooting of the solution differently. There have already been complaints that the movie strayed too far from the book in places, and the scene I refer to, the race from the previews, was likely better told in words.
I fully admit to having not yet read the book. It was on my list of things to read when the movie was announced, and I decided to wait for the movie before reading the book. I have never ruined a book by watching the movie, even when there are spoilers or the book is very different, but I have ruined movies by reading the book first… our imaginations set expectations. That caveat given, if you are looking for a fun romp through ‘80’s nostalgia, for video games, obscure movies, and music mixed with current and past important pop culture references in an action movie following a standard heroes journey in a near text book 3 act structure I cannot recommend this movie enough. The visuals are great, the story is solid, and the acting more than solid.
Without veering into spoiler territory, the film nerds out there will love the use of an iconic film as one of the challenges, and just how beautifully well done it is in look, tone, and execution. Trust me.