Ready Player One is an extremely enjoyable movie based on the book of the same name by Ernest Cline. I loved this book and I loved the movie just as much. It’s not very often that this happens. Books still tend to be better after all these years.
This movie looks and feels like a Steven Spielberg blockbuster. It is just a flat-out great time. While the book might have had some more obscure references and was a bit harder to get into outside of the more serious nerd, the movie has just the right level of reference. There is a heavy focus on nerd culture without diving into the deepest dungeons of D&D. A “Big Bang Theory”-fan type of nerd can recognize a lot of the pop culture they are talking about and the basement-dwelling level 20 orc “who went to Comic-Con before it was cool” can find some gems as well. I loved all of the horror movie characters’ brief appearances. The best of all being their one allotted F-bomb for a PG-13 movie being used to perfection (small spoiler alert) with a Chucky doll.
Critics and other general Dementors of fun can talk all of the shit they want. Movies are about the experience and this provides an enjoyable one. It has some deeper meanings if you want to look closer, which I recommend that you do. They are there and not that deep, but interesting nonetheless. It is an ode to geekdom helmed by one of the greatest directors of the modern times. My wife even thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought she would be out of the loop with a lot of the subject matter and this would keep her from being engaged. This was not the case at all. She saw some things she recognized and followed the plot closely. She generally zones out pretty quickly if she is not interested. The fact that this was our first date in 5 weeks after she had our daughter might have upped the enjoyment a bit for both of us. I still give most of the credit to good acting, great effects, and a seamless blending of two very different worlds.
I thought Mark Rylance did a great job as Halliday. The villains were a bit weak but they got their fascist, money-hungry, soul-sucking, corporate asshole point across. I’m okay with less character development and more of a spectacle. The Oasis is a fake world where you can be anything, build anything, do anything, and go anywhere. I would rather spend two hours watching a bunch of characters I love from the pop culture of the past 40 years or so battle it out than develop a bunch of characters in the real world. You are able to escape into the world of the Oasis and still pick up some bigger picture messages while really enjoying going to the movies again. There is enough crazy shit going on in real life. Bring back the days of epic action and going to the theater to just enjoy watching something for a couple hours.
I might even be willing to make this the second movie ever that I see in the theater twice. Only time will tell.
Below is a funny picture I made my wife take with a cardboard cutout of the CEO of Emagine Theaters that was next to three stuffed Marvel characters on the way out. Great times!
-By Eric Schmidt