It feels like this film has been in development for at least a decade. I remember the hype going into this back in 2010 and eight years later the final product is out in Ready Player One. Set in the post-apocalyptic world of Columbus, Ohio; the earth is screwed because we didn’t listen to climate change so now everyone lives in slum towns, also known as current day Detroit. In order to escape from their crappy lives, the common folks submerge themselves in the virtual reality land know as ‘The Oasis’. In this world, people can create avatars of themselves based on anything they can imagine…video games characters, movies, even their own creative designs. Our main character Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is one of many trying to obtain the three keys which are hidden easter eggs that will allow the winner to gain full control of OASIS and more money than they can handle. But of course, an evil corporation is hell-bent on getting the keys first and they have no problem sending a hit squad to take you out in broad daylight because that is how they roll.
The film is based on the best selling book under the same title, however, as I’ve been told by a couple of people who read the book, the movie uses none of its material. So if you are going to the theaters based on that, you will be disappointed. Outside of that, there isn’t much not to like about this movie. Ready Player One is a complete nostalgia trip that will have you marking out over all the many references to video game history, movie noir, and fan service that makes the film hard not to enjoy. Much of the film is computer animated which explains the massive $200 million budget, much of which you have to believe went to licensing the many video game and film characters in the movie.
Fortunately, the film doesn’t try to overplay the romance to the point it feels like you are watching another YA film with a complete lack of chemistry. The cast of the film is charming, but no one really stands out with the exception H who plays Wade’s best online friend. Everyone else plays what feels like a standard role, but the direction of Steven Spielberg makes everything work to the point where the first time in weeks a near 2 ½ hour movie doesn’t feel like a 2 ½ hour movie.
As fun as Ready Player One is, there is a very important message about living life and not letting your online persona define you because you never truly know what is real or fake in an online bubble. With that said, Ready Player One is easily the most fun I’ve had in the theater all year and I have a hard time believing the audience won’t enjoy it either.