Review – Ready Player One (2018)
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Produced by: Steven Spielberg & Ernest Cline
Release Date: March 28th 2018 (UK)
Writing a review for Ready Player one is a task that requires several viewings of the movie due to all of all of the references and Easter eggs etc that are present in the film to take in. So please take comfort in knowing that I had to suffer for the sake of this review. After watching the movie a couple more times and watching a bunch of Easter egg videos on Youtube, I now feel more equipped to discuss the film.
First off, I have never read the book that this film is based on. It has been recommended to me quite a few times, but I have never gotten around to reading it, so I went into this movie with no pre-conceived ideas of what it was going to be other than what I had seen in the various trailers.
Let’s start with the good stuff. Although I have some issues with the overabundance of CGI onscreen, as a 3D animator myself I was extremely impressed at the sheer quality of the animation in the movie. I know that this thing had a pretty high budget behind it, but still the level of quality in the animation is really high throughout the film.
The references are also pretty cool, at least for the first third of the movie but the novelty of seeing some of your favourite pop culture characters does wear off after a while and ends up feeling like a cheap gimmick before too long. Finally, if all you are looking for is a big dumb fun blockbuster, then this movie provides that in spades.
Ok, onto the stuff that bothered me. As I said above, although the quality of the CGI is pretty incredible, the vast amount of it gets tiresome after a while. I also didn’t like the character designs at all; Parzival looks like a rejected piece of Final Fantasy artwork and Art3mis looks like a stereotypical version of a what a middle aged man thinks a cool hacker looks like with a weird resemblance to a feline.
Aech just looked chunky and awkward, like something from a last-gen Gears Of War game, I-R0k’s weird, edgy, fantasy-based design didn’t fit his voice or the tone of the scenes he appeared in and Sorrento’s avatar just looked distractingly like a dastardly Clark Kent for some reason. Also, these original character designs seemed oddly out of place being surrounded by other characters from franchises that we already know like DC and Mortal Kombat, none of it meshed well at all.
It also really annoyed me how they kept touching on the idea that someone in the Oasis might not necessarily look the same as they do in real life and if you ever met them in real life you would be sorely disappointed, only for the reason for all of this to be a small birthmark on Olivia Cooke’s character’s face. The way that they make her out to some sort of beast-like monster because of a minor skin-irregularity is ridiculous and also slightly offensive.
Also, we are told during the movie’s opening sequence that the Oasis is a worldwide thing, where people from anywhere on the planet can meet up online and fight together or kill each other for coins. Then halfway through the movie, all of the characters meet up in a small ice cream truck in the real world and it turns out that they all live within a few miles of each other. It just made the whole thing feel really small scale. Another issue is that the movie is only 3 years old at this point and it already feels terribly dated. I don’t see this movie ageing very well in the long term at all and this is both due to the CGI and the references that they choose to include.
Lastly, as I said earlier, if what you want out of this movie is mindless fun, then you’ll walk away satisfied, but the problem with that is that the movie seems to want to be more than that. The way that the movie treats itself and the way it was marketed along with the fact that it’s got Spielberg in the director’s chair, signifies that the filmmakers were intending for this to be this generation’s Back To The Future or Star Wars and on that front it totally fails.
In these other movies that this film is aspiring to be, you care about what happens to the characters and want to see where they go, whereas here the audience cares way more about seeing the next popular franchise references than anything that happens to the main characters at the heart of this story and once you’ve seen the film, you are going to leave talking about the characters that appeared from outside franchises rather than the ones created for this story. The characters are also instantly forgettable, for example I have seen this film more than five times now and still couldn’t tell you the real world names of any of the characters other than Wade Watts and Sorrento and that’s only because he has the same name in the real world as he does in the Oasis.
I also don’t care if I never see any of these characters again if I’m being honest. Apparently there is a sequel movie to this already in the early stages of development, as the first movie made a bunch of money at the box office and there is apparently a sequel book in the works, but frankly I wouldn’t care if I never saw any of these characters again and I don’t care where the story is going either.
In conclusion, upon revisiting Ready Player One for review, it doesn’t achieve the goal that it sets for itself of being a modern sci-fi classic, but there is a lot of fun to be had here along with some impressive animation to boot. The movie has a fairly shallow, hollow feel to it throughout, as if we are scratching the surface of something potentially engaging and worth investing in, but the filmmakers constantly keep distracting us with flashy visuals and obscure pop culture references. If the movie was committed to telling a more original story rather than being obsessed with the 80’s classics it is exploiting, then it may be more worthwhile. Also, it’s certainly not one of Spielberg’s best, frankly it is probably closer in quality to Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull than it is to Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
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