Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Ready Player One - Movie Review

The Movie: Ready Player One

The Director: Steven Spielberg

The Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Mark Rylance, Win Morisaki, Philip Zhao, Hannah John-Kamen, Ralph Ineson

The Story: When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.

The Review:
Okay, let's get this out of the way. I read the book and I loved it. The movie is very different from the book so those who have read it will need to accept that.

The basic idea of the story is there, but the details are presented in very different ways to accommodate a two hour and twenty minute run time. That being said, Steven Spielberg definitely captures the spirit of the books and keeps things very fast paced and fun with tons of easter eggs and nods to 80's pop culture. I also really liked the visual contrast between the real world scenes and what takes place in the virtual world which is called the Oasis which is not meant to trick people into thinking it is their reality like in The Matrix, everyone goes into it willingly.

The special effects companies who got to work on this project must have been thrilled to see the endless list of characters, vehicles, gadgets, toy, and things they would be creating as it's pretty much anything and everything you could think of from 80's gamer and popular culture. The list is heavy on games because that' sort of the main thing in the story although there are tons of things from movies, TV, and music and everything kicks off perfectly with a Van Halen song playing during the opening credits.

I thought the casting for the movie was really well done although it was a little hard to get used to a couple of the actors fumbling through American accents. Tye Sheridan is no stranger to blockbusters having played Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse although his best work was probably a little farther back playing alongside Matthew McConaughey in Mud. He can definitely hold his own in the lead role and was very believable playing the ordinary kid who would become a hero simply because he believed in doing the right thing.

Meanwhile, this movie should be a jumping off point for Olivia Cooke becoming a major Hollywood star like right now. She has had success in previous genre films like The Signal and Ouija although she really broke through with a standout performance in the 2015 indie hit Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Her screen presence is undeniable, even when given sub par material like in this year's Thoroughbreds, and she was pretty much perfect as Artemis in this film.

While the two stars filled their roles nicely, the standout performance of the movie absolutely goes to Mark Rylance as Oasis creator James Halliday. After seeing him play strong characters in Bridge of Spies and Dunkirk, this was a total left turn and a brilliant one at that. It's kind of hard to explain without describing him as a stereotype, you just have to see him in action to understand. On the other side, Ben Mendelsohn is a pretty generic bad guy and doesn't really add much to the character who was a pretty generic bad guy in the book. Nothing wrong with the performance, he just didn't stand out.

The Verdict:
Ready Player One is a fantastic adaptation of a book I really enjoyed reading. Spielberg knew exactly what this movie needed to be and he definitely delivered the goods. If you don't know much about video games or 80's pop culture, you may not get as much nostalgic enjoyment out of the story but you will still be entertained regardless. Bottom line, this is one of those big time popcorn movies that needs to be seen on the big screen.

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