Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Ready Player One: A Virtual Scavenger Hunt

REEL REVIEWS

Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Ernest Cline, “Ready Player One” takes place in the year 2045. The Earth has become ruined by pollution, corruption, and climate change, but the people have found a way to escape the hideous state of their imperfect lives by spending their days in a virtual online gaming world known as OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation). The virtual world was created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance), an awkward but brilliant technological pioneer who, after passing away, left behind the deed and ownership to his creation inside—what he calls—an Easter Egg. Whoever manages to solve his puzzles and obtain the three keys to unlock the Easter Egg will be rewarded with full ownership of OASIS.

Our main hero, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), or Parzival as his avatar is known, is one of the many virtual avatars seeking Halliday’s keys within OASIS. However, Innovative Online Industries, a gaming company owned by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), also seek the Easter Egg in the hopes of claiming OASIS for themselves and exploiting the online world. With the help of his online friends, including the mysterious Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Wade must race between the real world and the virtual one in order to find the remaining keys and stop Sorrento from claiming OASIS.

“Ready Player One” is an interesting thrill ride. Between the scenes filmed in the real world, and the scenes done in the virtual world, the movie is sort of an animated/live-action film. I liked that they went in this direction; I enjoyed that most of the movie wasn’t completely shot in the virtual world, and we got to see some action scenes done with the actors. And the animation is pretty fantastic—although there were times when I couldn’t tell if I was watching a movie or a video-game.

Which brings me to a major factor of the movie most reviewers are either praising or criticizing: the references. “Ready Player One” has more references than “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and an entire season of “The Big Bang Theory.” Seeing as the virtual world OASIS is an online world, many of the avatars seen throughout the movie, besides the main characters, are all recognizable avatars based on trademarked characters from cartoons, movies, comic books, and video games. The movie is one of those blink and you’ll miss it type of films; it would take an entire notebook to catalog the number of references made in “Ready Player One.” However, to the film’s credit, it never stops the plot to have a character point out a specific reference. Any references mentioned are purely used to move the plot along—like in one part of the movie where the main characters literally go into Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” in order to solve a puzzle.

The movie also has the privilege of being directed by the one and only Steven Spielberg. If there’s one thing Spielberg has always been good at, its adapting books. When it comes to stories like “Jaws” or “Jurassic Park,” the man knows what content needs to go in the film, what can be left out, and what needs to be changed. All in all, “Ready Player One” is a visually appealing film that will keep your interest. The animations are well put together, the action—while headache inducing at times—is action-packed, and the overall adventure was fun and enjoyable to watch.

“Ready Player One” is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity, and language. Despite some faults, I still encourage moviegoers to give the film a try. It’s an adventure movie about treasure hunting, overcoming challenges, and fighting a corrupted company and their army of hired goons. It is definitely a movie kids will love, so long as they’re accompanied by an adult. And if you’re a fan of the ‘80s, you’ll get some enjoyment from the film as well, especially with its original soundtrack featuring music from A-Ha, Twisted Sister, Van Halen, and others. So, while the movie won’t rank as your top ten favorite Spielberg films, you won’t regret that you saw it. Which is why the final score for “Ready Player One” is a 7.5 out of 10.

Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.

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