Ready Player One is Pure Escapism

One of the most anticipated movies of 2018 has finally arrived and I had the pleasure of seeing Steven Spielberg’s latest film. This film, based on a novel by Ernest Cline of the same name,  is a geek’s dream. Everything from nostalgia, video games, Easter Eggs, action, comedy, wonders, and of course, escapism was the ingredients provided in this stew of blockbuster fun. I enjoyed just about every minute of this movie because I was given something visually to look at the whole time. The story we have seen before but it’s being paired with likable characters, light-hearted tone, and an execution that just allows you to watch and have fun for a while.

I know I have said this before and I feel I have to say it again just for transparency, that this review is coming from someone who hasn’t read the book yet. After seeing it, this is one film adaptation I wouldn’t mind reading the source material from. Spielberg definitely still has the mightiest touch to bring us a nice popcorn movie for all ages and I do mean that. Yes, the geek and the proud benefit more from this flick but I think anyone with a slight interest in this story may enjoy it. Especially parents with children will benefit from this film. Listening to a friend of mine say that his son thought it was the best movie he had seen to date, says a lot about the films that this latest generation of kids gets to witness.

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Tye Sheridan exploring a virtual universe in the confined space of a van. Pic via NME.com

This film that will one day be looked at as this generation’s Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or even The Goonies, is about Wade Watts who is one of many players in a virtual reality game/haven called the Oasis. Wade along with millions of other players who use avatars to navigate through the Oasis have an opportunity to participate in a challenge that will award the winner complete control of the game as well as a large sum of money. Think of this as the electronic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as one special person will get the keys to the kingdom so to speak. This obviously is the best thing this world has heard of because in their reality. The world is not what it used to be as its set in 2045 and everything is on the brink of collapse. In Wade’s (Ty Sheridan) reality specifically, it’s very poor without many resources to make his life any better. He is a true fan of the game and its history with the creator Halliday (Mark Rylance) who can be a little acentric but is one of the brilliant minds and most renowned human beings the world has seen. Wade uses the avatar Parzival to explore the Oasis and crack the codes that the challenge offers up. 

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Imitating the Breakfast Club Left to Right (Parzival, Daito, Sho, Aech, and Art3mis) The Hi Five. Pic via radio.com

Most of the cast had to do double duty in this film as they had to play themselves as humans but also doing voice over work as their avatars. While most people in the movie chose avatars of characters popular by pop culture, mainly from the 80’s and 90’s. The group known as the Hi Five had more of a creative approach to their look and visually they were stunning. I love the cast of this film. In addition to Sheridan, there was Olivia Cooke, Simon Pegg, T.J. Miller, and Lena Waithe of Master of None fame. Each brought their own character to their role and it heightened the likability of the film which brought most of the comic relief to the film. Lately, what we look for now in films are diversity within the cast and I think this movie does a wonderful job in making sure that is implemented.

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See any familiar faces? Pic via Kotaku.com

You would assume that this movie lacks any depth and just stuff full of nostalgia to entertain you for 2+ hours. I will see if you blink you will miss it but there are references to your favorite movie, video game, genre, and music from pop culture everywhere in this film. Some references are quick to catch but you get enough to remind you of your age. Keep in mind that it’s not just culture from the Gen X. Seeing as this film takes place in 2045; the film has updated references from characters you see in today’s pop culture including the hit video game “Overwatch”. I as a huge horror fan was very surprised to see how much horror movie references that were noticeable in the film. Putting all of that aside, there is a story there. There is a lot of exposition regarding social class. Big corporations who care for the money more than the wellbeing of the product is another example of the driving force of the story. There is also a little talk about where are current world is heading towards with all the technology in the world, we have separated ourselves from physical reality and instead of living in the now we are in constant need of a fantasy to keep us sane.

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The Iron Giant stands tall to fight. Pic via pastemagazine.com

This film takes The Oasis to another level of necessity instead of recreational. In those types of realities, the question is, is it okay to want to live in a fantasy world and escape reality? Mainly, how much of the real world are we willing to give up to just live in a virtual one. I think these are key points that make the film more grounded than just a child’s flick of the week. The movie wraps up with a questionable way of handling the idea of detaching one’s self from reality all together vs. “putting the remote down and get some fresh air” as parents would say. It will be interesting to see the opinions of others on how they feel this close to reality movie is.

Bottom line, you have a film that is fun to watch, exciting and cheer worthy, and I believe on its way of becoming a classic. Kids will love it, parents of kids will love it, anyone who has touched a video game controller will love it, and any one of all ages who enjoys a sense of adventure in their films will enjoy this movie as well. It is definitely worth the watch on the big screen as the visual effects are excellent.  Make a point to check it out. Since this movie is packed full of little hidden gems of our childhood, depending on your age, you will enjoy this film a second or maybe even a third time around. I walked out with a big smile on my face and I am sure you will also. I will be picking up a copy of the book right away.

5 out of 5

Thank you for reading my review on Ready Player One. What was your favorite video game growing up? Did you happen to catch your favorite pop culture reference in the film? Who here can comment on the differences between the book and the movie? Comment below your thoughts and share your experience on what you thought of the movie as a whole. Remember, every movie has at least one fan. I’ll see you at the movies.

 

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