Ready Player One Beats Video Game Movies At Their Own Game
I went into Ready Player One pretty fresh. I never really read the books and the trailers really didn’t do much for me. I didn’t hate them but didn’t love them. So my expectations for this movie weren’t that high to begin with. What I left with though was the realization that movies like Ready Player One, Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle and Scott Pilgrim are beating video game movies at their own game.
Ready Player One is pure fun and joy. I know some have been calling this “Nostalgia: The Movie” and suggesting that all it has going for it are 80’s and 90’s pop culture references but even if you reduce it to just that, it’s damn entertaining.
The key to making Ready Player One work is that director Steven Spielberg and writer Zak Penn make this film more than just a series of pop culture references. I think that’s what my hesitation was going into this film. Instead the film is an actually video game movie. The story is really about playing “the game” in the Oasis and finding the clues to solve the puzzles that allow the players to collect keys to unlike the “Easter Egg” hidden in the game. Everything that modern video game movies don’t embrace about the video games, Ready Player One does. Tye Sheridan’s Wade is joined by his online friends Olivia Cook, Lena Waithe, Win Morisaki and Philip Zhao to help solve the puzzles. They’re basically an online clan. They’ve never met in real life (until certain events in the movie bring them together) but they form real friendships and bonds. As someone who has formed these kinds of relationships not through just gaming but social media, I could relate.
Ben Mendelsohn is the over-the-top, corporate asshole who isn’t really a gamer but buys his way to the top of the game. At one point he even suggests something similar to micro-transactions. It’s hilarious.
The final battle is epic. It’ll have you shouting “Oh shit”, “Is that?” “Noooo” and clapping. I mean there are some deep cut references that they pulled out and its truly amazing. Also, not all of the references are video games or "nerd shows". There's a really great segment of the film that involves the characters going through a remake of an iconic horror film and it's wonderful.
Ready Player One is a great, fun film that embraces the true nature of video games better than any other video game movie. My only complaints are that they should have recast TJ Miller and the out-of-game portions are kind of a drag (but don’t last that long). This is definitely a film you’re going to want to check out.