Ready Player One is everything that every science fiction film centering on people remotely accessing characters in an augmented or real world wanted to be and a whole lot more. There is a famous saying by someone I don’t remember that goes like this. “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them” I guess it was Steve Jobs. As I sat through Ready Player One, I thought about films like Tron, Gamer, Matrix and even Avatar in which we had people remotely driving other characters. I could never put my fingers on things that I felt was missing in those films. I guess the whole concept needed a Spielberg treatment. It needed Spielberg to show me the limits to which this envelope can be pushed. I guess that’s all that was that was missing. Ready Player One is Spielberg’s return to form and boy! He fires in all the cylinders.
Unfolding in the future, Ready Player One tells the story of a dilapidating world that has all but one solace in the form of a virtual reality game, OASIS. While most of the people come into it’s folds to escape their drudgery, for someone like Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), it’s an unflinching passion and being the nerd that he is, he just loves being Parzival, the in-game character that he plays in the OASIS.
James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the builder of OASIS dies but leaves behind three keys in the OASIS for someone to find that would unlock an Easter Egg. The one who has the egg will control not only own the OASIS but inherit a fortune of approximately 1.5 trillion dollars. Gamers from all around the world are trying to find the Egg including Parzival. There is also an evil corporation that goes by the name of IOI led by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) who wants to control the OASIS and they would do anything in their power to outsmart and out play every opponent to get to the egg. To know what happens next, you will have to watch this film.
Ready Player One is a treasure trove of the 80s and 90s memorabilia. This is the nerdiest film that I have ever seen in my life. Honestly speaking I only got maybe 50 % of all the nostalgia on display and that was enough to blow my mind. I couldn’t express my excitement enough when Kaneda’s Bike from “Akira” makes an appearance. I held on to my breath when King Kong and the T-Rex from “Jurassic Park” take apart riders competing in a challenge. I had a smirk on my face when Parzival rides the car from “Back to the Future”. I was taken aback when a chest-buster from the “Alien” makes a sudden appearance. I was clapping when one of the characters kills Freddy from “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and receives reward points for it. And all this is just the first half hour of the film.
Ready Player One takes everything great from our childhood and puts it in one movie. You have characters from games, arcades, books, and film all coming together to give you the nerd-joyride of your life time. What Spielberg does best is build the story on solid logical grounds. The OASIS is a universe where you can be who you want to be. Also, the creator, Halliday, was a huge nerd himself. He recreated his fantasies, likes and dislikes into the game and then populated it with players who brought in their own nostalgia and populated the environment. Thus the game is an endless sea of opportunities for the director to experiment with. For Example, if I wish I could be “Shaktimaan” in that game.
The next best thing about the film is its visuals. Every time, I think Hollywood has reached a saturation point with respect to visual wizardry, they just push the boundary a little bit further and remind me that all that constricts building dreams into real tangible entities is our own inability to dream a little more. You are bound to be enthralled by the visuals of this film. I suggest watching this film on the biggest possible screen, with 3D and the best sound possible. Every visual element just leaps off the screen and arrangement of them is as such that you feel right in the middle of the action. You feel as if you have just got a cheat code entry into watching the game unfold from a privileged position.
All that visual splendor and nostalgia would account for nothing if the film didn’t have an interesting and immersive story to tell. We also had to be affected by the real characters to be able to accept CGI characters that populate atleast 60-70 % of the film. If we didn’t care about the real people in the real world we would never care about their avatars in the OASIS. Thus the challenges would never be as tense and exciting. Thankfully, the major characters all make a mark. Sheridan does a great job as Wade Watts. You feel his agony and understand his insatiable desire for this game. You also understand why he falls so quickly in love with another character.
The antagonist is easy enough to understand. He is the standard bad guy and all he had to be was threatening and menacing. Ben Mendelsohn achieves that with easy and finesses. I loved mark Rylance’s little character. It is just great to see the man act and his character of Halliday had a lot to add to the film in terms of emotionality and some stunning dialogues. Olivia Cooke plays Wade’s love interest and an extremely strong player in the film. Thankfully her character is not reduced to the cliché that we are used to for women. She holds her own all through the film and that is a refreshing change.
The only hindrance that this film has in turning out to be a smash is the same thing that makes it special. The nerd appeal. Many people who do not get the throwbacks to the nostalgia will not be able to enjoy this film as much as they should. It is still a perfectly enjoyable sci-fi epic but its true rewards lie in its Nerdist appeal. The excitement, the blood throbbing through your vein, the roaring punch of a monster from your childhood or that uncanny “butterfly in the stomach” inducing chilling sequence from a horror movie that you watched innumerable times as a kid will mean only as much for someone who has experienced it firsthand.
I loved this film to the core. It satisfied the action fan in me. It satisfied the sci-fi fan in me. It satisfied the nerd in me. Going by today’s standards that would mean watching three films. Spielberg is back with a bang and this time around he has brought us our childhood back in the form of a roaring and pulsating adventure that is dripping wet with memories of a good time. A must watch.
Rating : 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)