In 2049 Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) lives in the Stacks, an urban slum where trailer homes are piled high on top of one another. Caring less about his squalor than his virtual life online, he joins the rest of population by logging into ‘The Oasis’.
Inside The Oasis’s virtual world, players can be whatever they want in a grand quest left behind by its dead creator James “Anorak” Halliday (Mark Rylance). Promising untold wealth and power to those who solve it, the quest is a global sensation. However in its pursuit, Wade will learn those who he is playing with are not what they seem.
’Ready Player One is director Steven Spielberg returning to his popcorn roots…'
‘Ready Player One’ is director Steven Spielberg returning to his popcorn roots with an effects budget to match. Whilst the story won’t offer many surprises, this movie entertains with non-stop cultural references and nods. If you’re a keen movie buff or computer games player there are many in-jokes here to enjoy.
However this reliance upon references is also the movie’s achilles heel. With its heart firmly set in the eighties, most of the visual gags and one-liners may miss a more modern audience. Too highbrow in its name-checks for the kids and with a story too simplistic for the adults, Ready Player One ploughs a very narrow furrow. Nowhere more is this revealed than during its later homage to one of the greatest horror movies ever committed to film.
Sadly in peppering the narrative with such a flurry of name-checks, both the plot and its characters become obscured. Cast in the role of the film’s de facto nemesis, Ben Mendelssohn’s character finds itself in a space that could have been easily occupied by Michael Shannon (or many others). Like Mark Rylance’s performance (as the Oasis’s creator), both actors are top notch but given little to do on a very plain, albeit pretty, battlefield.
With its plot unwound, Ready Player One, is a chatty, candy-box cornucopia of post-modern references that certainly entertains. However whilst distracting and diverting as it is, this is one CGI action film that will leave you wishing you’d played it as a game rather than watched it as a movie.