Dec 22, 2018
Welcome back to our second Spielberg film this week, his most recent offering that may have the greatest collection of intellectual properties ever assembled. It’s also a likely contender for a few technical Oscars this year, although it received no Golden Globe nominations. You can check out our review of “The Post” (Episode #353) from earlier this week for another Spielberg film. And if you have any suggestions for future reviews, let us know at onemoviepunch.com or reach out over social media.
Today’s movie is “Ready Player One” (2018), the animated adventure epic directed by Steven Spielberg, and written for the screen by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, based on Ernest Cline’s best-selling novel. The film follows Wade (Tye Sheridan), a resident of a hyperurbanized suburb in the near future, who spends his time in the shared online world known as The Oasis. Upon the death of the creator of The Oasis, an Easter Egg is activated somewhere in the world that will grant the finder ownership of the entire virtual world. Now Wade competes with billions to find the prize.
Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” was one of the more popular works of fiction to hit shelves, appealing to gamers, dystopian future fans, and nostalgic adults alike. Of course, bringing this work of fiction to the big screen given the sheer number of referenced intellectual properties is legally impossible. It is also a story that doesn’t translate well to the big screen, taking place over multiple years, so adaptation requires overcoming a lot of hurdles. Hurdles that require partnerships among major production houses that only one person could probably command: Steven Spielberg. In fact, Spielberg’s team worked to secure as many of the intellectual properties as possible that were unavailable to their production partners. Once they had all the toys they could play with, the film could finally be adapted to fit the format.
Fans of the novel had mixed reactions to this film adaptation. It is easily one of the greatest works of eye candy the big screen has ever seen. Every scene inside The Oasis is breathtaking, even overwhelming at times, especially on the small screen. The animated action is so well done, and the uniformity brought to all the avatars and properties within the virtual world was impressive. In fact, it was so good that it made the live-action parts feel out of place, despite the slick set design for the IOI war room. After watching the film, I realized I wouldn’t want to live outside The Oasis, either, despite efforts in the messaging to prioritize the real over the virtual.
I wasn’t a fan of all the changes made to the story either. I don’t see Halliday (Mark Rylance) being a huge fan of racing games, even if he might be skilled at them. I also wasn’t a fan of replacing the Blade Runner segment for The Shining, although I understand the legal ramifications surrounding the rights during production. And despite all the times I enjoyed being able to identify the pop culture references on the screen, I felt the final act was way too drawn out, and in spots, unbelievable. No one figured out how to go backwards after five years of racing attempts? Not one person in that crowd tried to tackle the guy with the gun, even after he bombed their neighborhood? IOI doesn’t just move their debt slaves into some other money-making operations? I feel like the plot was altered so much to make it visually appealing that it lost its way, building towards perhaps one of the least climactic endings for a world-changing event.
“Ready Player One” (2018) is a dazzling spectacle of pop culture, processed and distilled in a stunning virtual world, hindered by changes necessary for an effective adaptation. It may not hit all the right notes, but the sheer size of the project makes it a landmark film by bringing together so many disparate intellectual properties, similar to both “Toy Story” and “Ralph Breaks The Internet”. Fans looking for a hefty dose of mindless nostalgia, or folks who were fans of the novel, should definitely check out this film, but beware it may not scratch every itch you might have.
Rotten Tomatoes: 73% (CERTIFIED FRESH)
One Movie Punch: 8.0/10
“Ready Player One” (2018) is rated PG-13 and is currently streaming on HBO.