By RYAN PAINTER, KUTV
'Ready Player One'
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KUTV) - Synopsis: The OASIS is a virtual reality world where the masses flock to in hopes of escaping the depressing reality of the real version. James Halliday, one of the creators of the OASIS, has died, but his parting message reveals that he has hidden a series of keys that will transfer ownership of the OASIS to whomever is first able to claim all three.
Review: I haven’t read Ernest Cline’s novel, but watching “Ready Player One” I couldn’t help but be reminded of Dan Brown, the author behind the Robert Langdon stories, who takes unconnected or loosely connected historical facts and ties them together to create a patchwork narrative filled with conspiracy theory and hullabaloo. The difference, of course, is that Cline is building a future built on the pop culture of the 1980s. Leaning heavily on genre films and early video games, “Ready Player One” is a visually busy film that is so packed with references to other films that sometimes it feels like the narrative is purposefully slight just to find the time for the writers to revel in their childhood passions.
The story itself is simplistic. Wade (Tye Sheridan), a young man, spends most of his life in the virtual world of the OASIS. There he hopes to be the one to find the three hidden keys by completing a series of challenges. He’s primarily a loner, but has found a handful of friends who work in tandem. Wade, who is known as Perzival in the OASIS, befriends Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), a female avatar who is also dedicated in finding the three keys. Together, along with Perzival’s crew, they race to solve the puzzles to keep IOI, a soulless corporate conglomerate, from taking over the fantasy world that they and so many others have come to call home.
Outside of the constant barrage of pop culture references, there’s nothing in “Ready Player One” that hasn’t been explored by William Gibson or Philip K. Dick. The stumbling block for many of these stories is that the virtual world is always far more attractive than the real world. The challenge is to present a compelling argument as to why any individual would choose to live in the lackluster real world. “Ready Player One” gives a lot of lip service to the question, but never really manages to present an argument that feels convincing. You aren’t going to walk away from “Ready Player One” craving human contact. You will walk away thinking about how cool it would be to have access to a place like the OASIS where you can have an exhilarating out-of-body experience that feels as real, if not more so, than the humdrum world. To that end, “Ready Player One” is a failed public service announcement that effectively sells the product it is desperately trying to warn its audience about.
Is it fun to see so many characters from a wide range of video games and movies all in one narrative? Yes, absolutely. Is there enjoyment to be found in the film? Certainly, as far as roller coasters go, “Ready Player One” is an absolute thrill ride, but if you’re looking for connection, you’ve come to the wrong place. “Ready Player One” is, sadly, the cinematic equivalent of an energy drink. It offers an adrenaline rush in the moment, but its effects aren’t lasting.