Do you remember the first time you played a video game? As you held that firm controller in your hands with wide eyes, expectantly hoping to defeat the bad guys or tackle obstacles in order to save the world? Or how about the time you first entered an arcade and pounded on the buttons as the game’s lights shone on your eager face?
Ready Player One takes the audience back on that journey in a way that every nostalgic fan has always dreamed of. Based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline and directed by Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One follows Wade aka Parzival (Tye Sheridan) as he embarks on a virtual reality journey in a gamer’s world called OASIS to find the creator’s Easter Egg. Parzival’s friends, Samantha aka Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Helen aka Aech (Lena Waithe), Daito (Win Morisaki) and Shoto (Philip Zhao) join him in a topsy-turvy atmosphere of obstacles in order to defeat the corporate overlord, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) so that he doesn’t obtain the Easter Egg first. Black Panther standout Letitia Wright plays Reb.
Mark Rylance portrays OASIS creator, James Halliday, an eccentric pop culture fanatic with the imagination and tenacity of Steve Jobs. After Halliday tragically dies, he enlists his loyal OASIS players to find an Easter Egg he hid within OASIS amongst a bevy of clues and riddles, with the winner receiving his entire fortune. Similar to Spielberg’s ever-persistent filmatic themes, Halliday is a lover of the concept of imagination and created a world to live on posthumously.
Parzival starts off as a top OASIS player who never “clans up,” and through his personal and physical journey, he eventually learns the difference between reality and imagination. As we follow Parzival in his journey, the film also touches on the very real conversation surrounding an advanced technology that strives to connect us through disconnecting means.
Lena Waithe is a very pleasant surprise as Aech, Parzival’s best friend. Waithe’s voiceover work adds a comedic and lighthearted layer to an already fun film that will have audiences eager to be her BFF.
The most memorable part of Ready Player One is undoubtedly the nostalgia factor. The 80s and 90s shines through as the audience is treated to references (both subtle and outward) including Mortal Kombat, The Shining, Iron Giant, Saturday Night Fever and more. The more subtle references are like a game in and of itself, luring you into finding as many Easter Eggs as you can while you watch.
Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography bobs and weaves in a way that firmly inserts the audience in a gamer’s chair and thrusts them into a role playing character. Ready Player One certainly isn’t just a film, it’s an experience. It’s a game… and we all win.
Ready Player One powers into theaters on March 29, 2018.