“Ready Player One” Review

For the most part, I’ve hated book-to-movie adaptions. Most of the time I see the movie going so completely off the book that it just turns into a sad mess of a film. Some notably terrible book-to-movie adaptions include Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Divergent.

However, sometimes the movie gets it right, and we get worldwide phenomenon franchises such as Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and my personal favorite, The Lord of the Rings.

And now we have a new contender in the ring: Ready Player One.

I first came across this movie last year when I stumbled upon a teaser trailer released at ComicCon. It piqued my interest almost instantly, and I became invested into the story. As always, I bought the original book by Ernest Cline first, as the book adaptions are pretty much always better than the movie. And then I waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, the movie came out. And I have to say, it was pretty spectacular.

In 2045, the world is kind of a crappy place to live. Overpopulation, lack of resources, blah blah blah you get to the picture. People find escape from all this in the OASIS, a virtual world created by James Halliday. Upon his death, Halliday issues a challenge to the players of the OASIS: complete three secret challenges to win three keys and find a hidden Easter Egg to win control over the OASIS itself.

At the start of the story, taking place in 2045, five years have passed and no one has found even the first key—won by completing a dangerous race. That all changes when OASIS gamer and “gunter” (egg hunter) Wade Watts (known as Parzival in the OASIS) unlocks the mystery to win the first challenge. Unfortunately, this makes him and the other gunters that follow his lead a target of IOI, a sinister corporation bent on taking control of the OASIS to basically turn it into advertising central and a corporate wasteland. It’s up to Wade and his friends, known as the High Five (due to being the first five to finish the first challenge) to decipher Halliday’s riddles and reach the egg first.

The cast did a really great job in their roles. This film stared Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, Phillip Zhao, Win Morisaki, and Hannah John-Kamen as Parzival/Wade Watts, Art3mis/Samantha Cook, Nolan Sorrento, Aech/Helen Harris, i-R0k, Ogden Morrow, James Halliday, Sho/Zhou, Daito/Toshiro, and F’Nale Zandor respectively. Generally, all these characters were in the book adaption with the exception of F’Nale Zandor. Additionally, i-R0k’s roll in the movie is far larger than his role in the book, though I really enjoyed where they went with his character in the movie. Mendelsohn’s portrayal of Sorrento was also well done. Also, I loved the interplay between Wade and Samantha. Their growing relationship—with Wade being in love for a while before the movie starts and Samantha slowly falling in love with him—was a key plot point throughout the movie.

Speaking of plot, let’s talk about that now. While the film kept the basic plot of the story alive, the rest was completely changed. While this generally does irritate me, this time, the changes actually made since for a better movie. The challenges in the book weren’t very cinematic, so of course they had to be changed. And to be honest, I liked these challenges even more than the ones in the book.

The effects were also very stunning. Since this is a virtual world we’re talking about here, a lot of design had to go into it, such as the avatars getting killed, lasers, explosions, and general other things that go into making movies and video games. I do have to say that some of the effects in this movie are some of the best I’ve seen in movies.

Lastly, I can’t end a review of a movie with a lot of pop culture references without listing a lot of these references.

Since Halliday loved pop culture stuff, particularly from the 80s, naturally the OASIS—and the movie—would be filled with them. Some of these references include, but are not limited to: (deep breath) Marvin the Martian, Back to the Future, Knight Rider, Mechagodzilla, Holy Hand Grenade, Chucky, Halo, The Shining, Star Wars, Firefly, Classic Atari Games, Prince, Michael Jackson, and King Kong.

Whew! Such awesome 80’s icons.

Anyway, to conclude this review, I give this movie a 9/10, or A-. Director Steven Spielberg does it again with an amazing movie that makes us not only nostalgic about pop culture past, but hope for a better future.