Ready Player One: Humorous, Captivating, and Thoughtful

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Schindler’s List. Indiana Jones. What do these seemingly dispersed classics have in common with one another? They were all directed under the brilliant hand of Steven Spielberg, and just recently, a new movie joined the ranks.

Ready Player One, based on the beloved novel by Ernest Cline, was released on March 29th, 2018, and has since then grossed about $582 million, earning a satisfactory 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. While it has received criticism from fans regarding the way it deviates from the novel, admittingly, this isn’t exactly surprising, and many would agree the movie successfully captures the general gist.

The film takes place in the year 2045, where the world has subsequently deteriorated as a result of war, disease, and famine. However, rather than generating solutions to the problems that resulted in their destruction, humanity has chosen to immerse themselves in a virtual reality universe known as the Oasis. Granted, you can see how such a place might be desired. Practically a utopia, the Oasis is a world where you can be whoever you please, courtesy of your avatar, and engage in any activity you please, likely involving the gruesome skirmishes of a war zone, or the high-speed catastrophes of a racetrack. Which is to say, people prefer having a simulated sword thrust into their gut over the inevitable effects of climate change.

However, such an empire must be controlled. The Oasis’s late creator, James Donovan Halliday, had presented all players the challenge of finding an Easter Egg he’d implanted, which called for them to acquire three keys hidden in separate locations. Each key would only be revealed after deciphering puzzles involving clues from specific moments of his past and interest, particularly the memories that he most regretted. The player who obtained all three keys would be rewarded with half a trillion dollars, as well as full ownership of the Oasis. Years later, not even the first key had been discovered. Enter: Wade Owen Watts, a young Halliday obsessive, keen on completing the Easter Egg challenge. His avatar, Parzival, is joined by other eager players – Aech, Daito, Sho, and Art3mis. However, as his mission proves to be more and more successful, he and his team find themselves threatened by a massive corporation known as IOI, and his motivation gradually shifts from a personal vocation to the intention of saving the Oasis from the corrupt.

While entertaining, Ready Player One is not without its flaws. Mainly the aspect of character relationship, which failed to connect and instill the effect that had likely been intended. Throughout most of the beginning, Wade was only able to interact with other characters through their avatars, and revealing any details of their true identity proved to be a grave mistake. However, when they were finally introduced to one another, their reaction wasn’t as realistically convincing. Granted, they were in the process of boarding a bus with bullets ricocheting from the windshields, however, Wade had earlier claimed these people were his best friends. Meeting your supposed “best friend” face-to-face for the first time would call for a more heartfelt scene. The romantic relationship between Wade and Samantha was slightly shallow as well, for similar reasons. At one point following the first time Wade’s avatar, Parzival, had been introduced to Art3mis, Aech warned Wade to act with caution, considering the fact that he had absolutely no idea who Art3mis was. As true as this statement was, Wade found himself falling for her, hard, and this, taken in retrospect, seemed rather implausible.

The most notable quality of Ready Player One, however, is simply the movie magic required in bringing such a story to life. The Oasis is a place limited only by one’s imagination, so there is no doubt Spielberg had to tap into his own in order to create it. The people’s living quarters were as desolate as the Oasis was lively – with a vivid dance club, an unsettling replica of The Shining, and a demonic fortress on Planet Doom. Each detail is considered with such care, each attribute breathed with such creativity, the Oasis appears to be the utopia it is. Spielberg’s ability to capture the virtual world enhances the storyline by massive margins and leaves audiences actively immersed in the story.

Furthermore, the film doesn’t fail to provide a few other desirable qualities. A touch of romance, small doses of humor sprinkled throughout the movie, a dramatic battle scene fueled by an empowering peroration delivered by the protagonist. The film succeeds in a majority of the cliches, including providing important warning signs of our current use of technology. The citizens utilized virtual reality goggles similar to the ones circulating in society today. And while the prospect of spending 24/7 in simulated worlds may seem preposterous now, as technology continuously becomes an integral part of our lives, such a future doesn’t seem so far off. Ready Player One takes place in the year 2045, just under thirty years from now, but if we dismiss significant issues the way humanity did in the film, we might find ourselves in a very similar boat.