Games don’t make great video game movies, but maybe books do!
The video game movie curse quivers in the face of Wreck It Ralph and is now abruptly smacked like a medieval knight demanding battle in Ready Player One. The latest from up and coming filmmaker Steven…let me check my notes here…Speyleborg? is at its core a very well-designed fun ride. Having not read the Ernest Cline novel, I went in just wanting to check out the spectacle and maybe have a laugh or two. This could have just been a cash grab explosion of references and I would have been fine with that. But RPO has a heart, and it isn’t afraid to use it. My only major problem with the movie is that personally, I wanted Cameo Player One to dig into its heart a bit more. However, for a film that could have gotten away with doing less, it was still more heart than I was expecting.
Thanks to having a universally understandable story, you absolutely do not need to be a gamerfreak or a geek to enjoy this film. But damn you sure do get bonus points if you are. The voice acting by Tye Sheridan is well done. Usually the “everyman” character in a movie annoys me but to my surprise, the character of Wade Watts is actually a pleasant character to watch and comes off pretty natural when he shows off his nerdy knowledge.
But the real stand outs for me in terms of voice acting were Olivia Cooke as Art3mis and T.J. Miller as i-R0k. Olivia’s emotion sneaks through the CGI like Ezio Auditore da Firenze. I was impressed at how T.J. Miller’s character felt real and stayed consistent while also maintaining his charm. As for Mr. Benny Mendey’s character, if you’re expecting a super layered villain (I’m lookin’ at you book readers!), then I have bad news and good news. You won’t be getting any garlic flavored lobster tail from your main baddie, but don’t worry! Sometimes a well-built cheeseburger is all you need.
The supporting cast is way better than I was expecting. Lena Waithe does a fantastic job at playing a supporting character who actually supports the main actor; not just as a plot device but also emotionally. I also would have loved to have seen more from the fun duo of Win Morisaki and Philip Zhao as Daito and Sho, respectively. I wish I was more connected to some of the other supporting roles but it never took too much away from my interest in the main plot.
The world of OASIS is stunning. There is a noticeable variety in locations and each area feels very lived in and thought about as the camera movements compliment the scenery. The character designs are collages I would love to admire in a slowly revolving 360-degree render. The use of light in particular is fantastic across the board.
Ready Player One is a fun ride. Did I walk out crying? No. You know what you’re paying for when you walk in, but you end up getting a bit more. This movie knows what it is and does its best at being itself. What else could you really ask for?
The Easter eggs are an absolute joy to find! So much so that I was even inspired to put one in this article. (Hint: The number of times I say the word “Heart”). The film structure is beautiful and the cuts between the real world and OASIS feel balanced and well timed, adding to the emotional tension of the scenes. The ending is just slightly up its own ass but you gave me a Borderlands reference in a big budget, wide release film so I’ll let it slide, Mr. Spielberg.
I might just see it again! Respawning in 3…2…