The year is 2045, and things are so dystopian that everyone spends all their time in a virtual world known as the Oasis. As they explain in an elongated voice-over at the beginning, on the Oasis, you don’t just do everything, you can be anything. The creator of the Oasis left an Easter Egg in the game before his death, and if anyone can find this Egg by following the clues he left behind, they will win the prize of inheriting not only all of his money, but also become the ruler of the whole Oasis.
Parzival (Tye Sheridan) is a gunter, an Oasis term meaning “Egg Hunter,” and he meets with At3mis (Olivia Cooke) who teaches him that the world outside the game is one being ruled by IOI, an evil company bent on getting the Egg for themselves to run it much like a cell phone game and sell ads and force people to pay for memberships and the like. Super evil, as you can see. Art3mis, Perzival, plus a few friends make it their mission to get the egg so they can stop IOI in their tracks.
This film is very entertaining and is not only filled with tons of 80s nostalgia but also has the pacing and feel of an 80s film. I think this works for the film as a whole and turns the movie into a great sci-fi action film. I’ve heard it differs greatly from the book, which I haven’t read, though the 80s tended to do that too, take a product and basically rewrite the whole thing until nothing but the names remain (*cough* Super Mario Brothers *cough*). They even shine a light on that just a bit by mentioning the Shining and how Stephen King himself hated the adaptation because of how much it differed from his work. Having not read the book version of Ready Player One, I can’t compare it, but I had a fun time watching this, and enjoyed the action, the SFX, and the 80s references all the same. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a sequel or two, which is another thing the 80s was good at putting out quickly, so maybe we’ll have a Ready Player Two later this year.
A few areas this movie suffers though. For one, the film uses Voice-Over too much, truthfully, any voice-over is too much in pretty much any context. What works is fourth-wall breaking stuff for the sake of humor, just watch either of the Deadpool movies and you’ll see what I mean. I think if used stylistically, VO can work very well, like in Fight Club, but not with this generic stuff of explaining the world to us. This just screams “show, don’t tell.” I know this movie is 2 hours+ but considering how overly long the denouement is, I feel they could have spared a few minutes to introduce the world visually instead of this overused voice-over narration.
One more complaint, the romance in this film feels more than a bit forced. I know it’s yet another 80s staple to have a romance in pretty much every movie no matter what, but it’s a trope so overused it’s pretty much dead (to me) that two people, having knowing each other basically minutes, fall madly in love for no reason other than they wanted another subplot in the film, I don’t care if it was in the book or not. Just because something works in the written word doesn’t mean it will adapt to film the same way.
+7.5: Entertaining film with some pretty cool SFX
+1: There’s just something about the 80s, man
-1: Forced romance
-0.5: Just a bit too much VO narration