Ready Player One (2018) – Film Review

A triumphant return back to the silver screen for iconic director Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Raiders of the Lost Ark), this time taking-on an adaptation of the science fiction novel: ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline. The film manages to capture that classic Spielberg atmosphere, alongside some fun visuals and action scenes. As well as many, many appearances and references from/to beloved characters and properties from all types of media, the film overall building-up to being a mostly entertaining family adventure.

When the original creator of a virtual reality world called: ‘The OASIS’ dies, he makes a posthumous challenge to all ‘OASIS’ users to find his golden easter egg, which will give the lucky finder his entire fortune as well as complete control over his limitless virtual world.

As the film is set half within the real-world and half set within virtual reality, I was initially concerned that I would get dragged out of the film due to an overuse of CG visuals. However, the film proved me wrong here, creating computer-generated characters that could emote nearly as much as the actors portraying them. As the CGI and the over-the-top character designs create an intentional clear difference between the two realities through its visuals, ensuring the audience doesn’t become confused (which is actually played with later-on in the film’s narrative).

Mostly known as ‘Cyclops’ in the new incarnation of the ‘X-Men’ series, Tye Sheridan does a decent job at portraying the likeable protagonist: ‘Wade Watts’. Alongside Olivia Cooke as his love interest: ‘Samantha’ as well as Simon Pegg as: ‘Ogden Morrow’ with Ben Mendelsohn and T.J. Miller as the antagonists, and whilst every member of the cast doing pretty decent job considering their extremely weak characters (as every character we meet throughout the runtime is mostly one-note, being nothing more than your traditional hero or villain etc). Each one of the characters does still serve their purpose within the film’s story.

Although an enormous amount of the cinematography by Janusz Kaminski is very impressive, having a large number of moving shots soaring through the breathtaking world of the ‘OASIS’, It’s difficult to judge it in its entirety. As the majority of the camerawork is obviously CG, due to a large amount of the film’s story being set within the computer-generated world, as when we cut back to ‘Wade’s true reality, the cinematography is mostly quite bland. I do appreciate the dark colour palette however, for when the film takes places in the real-world, as it contrasts extremely well with the incredibly colourful visuals of: ‘The Oasis’.

Despite the original score by Alan Silvestri not being one of his best, as the soundtrack isn’t nowhere near as memorable as ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Predator’ or ‘Back to the Future’ (which there is actually a little audio throwback to) the score is still decently effective, and does sound subtlety like a Steven Spielberg classic.

The main element I take issue with throughout the film is some of the weak writing throughout, as although not awful, in addition to the weak characters. The film is also full of cheesy moments and clichés. Many have also taken issue with the enormous amount of characters from other media thrown into the film, with most seeing it as pandering and meaningless. However, I personally don’t agree with this, as this aspect is also in the original novel and adds to the idea that truly anything is possible within the virtual world. Personally, I feel these flaws are definitely most made-up for by the brilliant action throughout the film, as every action set-piece from the opening race scene through to the ending battle is all pretty creative, and very enjoyable to watch.

‘Ready Player One’ definitely has its faults, but I’d say the film is still a decent addition to Steven Spielberg’s line-up of family flicks, as while not on the level of: ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ or ‘Hook’ for example, I did find the film mostly enjoyable from start-to-finish. As aside from some weak characterisation and some cheesy scenes, I’d recommend a trip into the ‘OASIS’ for this exciting sci-fi/fantasy odyssey. In conclusion, a decent 7/10.

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