Is ‘Ready Player One’ a reference-filled romp or a pop-culture push-over?
In the year 2045, the world has become a harsh place, changed by countless disasters and atrocities. The only way people can escape their horrible realities is by entering the OASIS, a virtual reality universe in which humanity now spends their lives, and can be and do whatever they want. But, when the OASIS’s creator, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), dies, he entrusts his fortune to whoever can find three keys hidden inside the virtual universe, as well as total control of the OASIS. With life-changing amounts of money up for grabs, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and his friends embark on an adventure to find the keys, and stop the OASIS from getting into the corporate hands of the ruthless businessman, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelhson).
‘Ready Player One’ is the latest film to come from the Hollywood giant Steven Spielberg, and he has delivered in spectacular fashion. It’s features what has to be some of the best CGI I’ve seen in recent films, and even the animated sequences that occur inside the OASIS (which make up approximately two-thirds of the film) are immersive and feel real. Toward the beginning of the film there’s a fast-paced car race, as partly featured in the trailers, and that really gets the adrenaline pumping when viewed on the big screen.
The cast all give good performances, in both the live-action sequences and the motion-capture animation. The mo-cap reminded me somewhat of Spielberg’s 2011 animation ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, which also had very good action for an animated feature. For me, the stand-out member of the cast was Mark Rylance, who played the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday. His character was enjoyable to watch, and the way his eccentric character is portrayed made all the pop-culture references within the OASIS all the more believable — if a virtual reality universe in which all of humanity lives can ever be ‘believable’.
It’s those pop-culture references that really are the appeal of the film, and when I heard about a blockbuster that was going to feature the likes of the DeLorean from ‘Back To The Future’, the Iron Giant and King Kong, I was both excited and worried — was this going to end up as references forced in to look good in trailers, but end up just being cringe-worthy? In the end, I was wrong — everything in the OASIS feels as though it should be there, and seeing the DeLorean drift through New York has got to be one of the best scenes in a film this year.
Overall, ‘Ready Player One’ is a fun, sci-fi adventure, with a seamless blend of live-action and animation. It has some good action sequences and a strong cast, plus none of the references and nods feels forced, so for that, I think it deserves eight-out-of-ten.
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