I had the pleasure of catching a sneak peek of Ready Player One. The movie rights were acquired before the book it’s based on was even published. Carol the Cat, one of my co-hosts from the Guardians of the Geekery podcast and I recorded a quick six-minute spoiler free review here.
No spoilers here. Ready Player One is the story set in 2045 and America has deteriorated into a 99%’s worst nightmare. The 1% control everything including everyone’s debt and the 99% escape almost entirely into the OASIS virtual world to truly live. Everyone is trying to win a game created by genius Halliday to control the OASIS.
As a pure movie-going experience, this is a popcorn movie. You want to catch this movie with an audience, so you can get swept away with the emotions and community of a crowd: still one of the few reasons to see a movie in a theater. The lead actors don’t have a whole lot to do but I was surprised that Tye Sheridan carried the real world scenes well. Olivia Cooke did a wonderful job as Samantha. Lena Waithe is always fun to watch do anything due to her charisma. I predict this will do great for home viewing and especially for Redbox where you can pause frame-by-frame to catch all the Easter eggs. Ernest Cline (author of RPO) and Zak Pen wrote a fun screenplay that Steven Spielberg amps and wrings for all the 80’s nostalgia he can muster. Carol and I were joking Spielberg had to buy a lot of 80’s pop culture cameos or he called in all the favors owed him in the film making community (he’s made Hollywood nine billion dollars just on the movies he’s directed).
While I really enjoyed the trip down 80’s memory lane (I still like the Atari 2600) and the 80’s are popular again with younger generations, the VR part of the movie is where things feel kind of stale. This has a lot to do with the book being released seven years ago in 2011. VR was new and exciting. Most of what was shown in the film is already possible to one degree or another now. Not a huge problem except the film is set in 2045 so it doesn’t seem likely we’ll have to wear clunky visors and headgear 26 years from now.
All that said I give the movie a B+. The plus is because the fans this movie will appeal to will dig it for the references and Easter eggs alone. After the screening several members of The Charlotte Geeks were “geek checking” and comparing notes on all the cool things. That’s what I love about my geeky people and it’s also the kind of water cooler talk that will have people checking out this visual smorgasborg of a movie.
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