Man, let me just preface this post by saying that I never thought I’d live to see the day that a commercialized book-to-movie adaptation of a video game based story would end up being widely popular and successful. I had low expectations of Ready Player One as it opened, but word of mouth and reviews were surprisingly positive, which compelled me to see it as soon as I had the chance.
Films that take place in the video game genre or have a video game background have had a poor track record, as evidenced by the semi-recent Assassin’s Creed, starring Michael Fassbender, and the very recent Tomb Raider, which, to be fair, is much better than its given credit for. This is mainly because video game plots tend to have a non-linear plot in some aspects, due to the fact that developers mainly focus on refining the gameplay over developing a complex plot.
The visuals of the film are absolutely stunning, as they seamlessly mesh together characters and entities from all corners of pop culture. Characters from widely popular games such as Overwatch can be spotted in the movie, as well as characters from childhood-favorite movies, such as The Iron Giant. Although the game is mainly set in the virtual world of the Oasis, the live-action visuals are all but disappointing, as they masterfully showcase the dystopian society controlled by IOI, the antagonistic force working to monopolize the Oasis after the death of its creator, James Halliday.
As a film that has a plot based upon the existence of an Easter Egg (a hidden reference or allusion placed in a game or movie by its creator), Ready Player One is absolutely riddled with pop culture references and Easter Eggs, the most notable of them being an incredibly brilliant scene dedicated to a specific horror movie.
The only criticism I have for the movie that’s worth mentioning is its dialogue; while the dialogue can be hilarious and well-written at times, there are a lot of lines that are cheesy and cliched, which end up discrediting the scenes that they take place in. That being said, the target demographic for the film is primarily those of youth, so it’s not a big deal that the dialogue isn’t up to Shakespearean standards.
The replay value of the movie lies in its countless Easter Eggs and wonderful visuals — Ready Player One is worth watching multiple times to relive the sense of wonder and excitement that it fills you with when you first see the Oasis, but also, to spot the subtle Easter Eggs that Spielberg laid across his film. The power of this film is also derived from its nostalgia, as pop culture references from all decades of media are subtly shown in the film.
Overall, Ready Player One is a prime example of what a video game movie should be, showcasing dazzling visuals alongside a superb plot and a wonderful direction by Steven Spielberg. If other video game movies were to take a cue from Ready Player One, the trend of poorly-crafted video game movies could finally die down.