Steven Spielberg is back with a whiz-bang adventure movie! Is it a return to form for the director or another expensive miss?
Well, I liked it!
Is it a good movie?
I would say that it is a fun movie. It feels like 1980’s Spielberg is back again, not the “Crystal Skull” Spielberg. Ready Player One is a through and through action/adventure flick. Here is the caveat: most of this sucker is animated.
The basic plot of the film is that in the future (the 2040’s), the real world sucks. The vast majority of people spend most of their time in the Oasis – a video game created by 80’s-loving nerd James Halliday. The Oasis is better than real life in nearly every way imaginable, and the real world is a dystopian dump possibly as a result? That’s what I assumed. People spend so much time in the game that normal tasks like, cleaning ANYTHING up go by the wayside. The movie looks like it was filmed in the “Junk People Land” from The Walking Dead.
Our main character, Wade Watts, plays the game under the handle Parzival. He is a gunter – an Easter Egg Hunter. Oasis game creator Halliday has died and left a series of quests to complete. The winner of these quests will gain full control of the Oasis. The clues to solve (and even just find) the quests are “Easter Eggs” throughout the game. Of course, a big bad corporation called IOI is pouring money and manpower into finding the Eggs as well, as they want the revenue from controlling the Oasis.
Enough plot junk! I assume you want to see the movie!
The movie goes back and forth between the real world and the Oasis – meaning, the bulk of the movie follows our characters’ in-game avatars… which is animated.
I understand that may be a deal breaker for some.
Look at the domestic box office for Spielberg’s own The Adventures of Tintin. Even with Spielberg attached as Director, it did not get American butts into seats. True, the subject may have had an impact, but I think that there is still a bit of a stigma with audiences and animation. Even with the great strides animated features have made, they are typically relegated to being known as “kids stuff”.
The “real world” sequences are washed out, grainy and ugly – making a sharp contrast to the beautiful, colorful, vibrant world of the Oasis.
Now, this movie has one incredible thing going for it… and if you are reading this site this is a thing you will understand very well.
POP CULTURE REFERENCES.
This movie is like sitting around talking with your nerd and geek friends and everyone is throwing out quotes from movies, making jokes, and showing off the latest geek stuff they got. Even down to little things like clothing, pins, the weapons used, etc. there are “easter eggs” EVERYWHERE. I’m certain that some website with more time on their hands than us will catalog them all, and I’m sure that they are going to number in the hundreds, if not thousands.
My personal favorite was the Dust Brain Madball. Keep a lookout!
The acting was good overall, but I want to talk about one actor in particular. Mark Rylance‘s Halliday is shy, awkward and endearing. He stole the show for me. I wanted more. I also liked Ben Mendelsohn as the greedy corporate boss man, Sorrento. Sure, it was a variation of his Rogue One role… but he does it well.
Overall, I think this movie tried to point to deeper things about culture, social media, video game addiction and personal connections while pretending to be an action/adventure movie.
While this movie was fun, the big problem I have is that Tron: Legacy did it better.