Ready Player One Visually Stuns

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Wade Wyatts, played by Tye Sheridan, enters the virtual reality of the OASIS. This shot captures the stark difference between the freedom of the virtual world and the entrapment of “the stacks.”

Gloria Han, Maroon-News Staff

I was shocked to see that during the midnight premiere of Ready Player One, the Hamilton Movie Theater was only half-full. Usually the theater is packed, to the point that slightly late viewers are turned down and ejected out in their pursuit of a seat. Perhaps it’s more of a Marvel phenomenon – nothing can compare to the attendance for Black Panther. Another possibility is that the film just didn’t gain a lot of hype. I, for one, am not a huge fan of the trailer. But now having seen the movie, I advise all to forget the subpar preview; and to those who skipped out on Friday, I say they really missed out.

Ready Player One is set in the dystopian future of 2045, in which a majority of people escape their sober realities through the virtual world of the OASIS. They can be whomever and do whatever they want, whether it’s work, entertainment, etc. 

The OASIS’ creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) passed away, and upon his death it is revealed that he created a quest hidden within the OASIS. The first person to complete the quest will be awarded full ownership of OASIS as well as an unimaginably large sum of money. As a result, the announcement creates a myriad of Gunters (Easter egg hunters), including our protagonist Wade Wyatts a.k.a Parcival (Tye Sheridan), and Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the CEO of Innovative Online Industries (IOI) and our primary villain.

Steven Spielberg’s return to the art of blockbuster filmmaking is a pleasant surprise, after the Oscar-type, drama cinema of his last several years (The Post, Lincoln). The world of the OASIS is visually spectacular and detailed, much like his other notable works, such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and The Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). The vibrant, technologically advanced landscape of the OASIS is a sharp contrast to the gloomy, gray slums and stacks (as they call them) of Columbus, Ohio. Spielberg also keeps the pace steadily brisk, never in danger of boring his audience. How he does it for a whole 140 minutes, I really don’t know. 

Another interesting aspect of the film is that it pays homage to popular culture from the 1970s to the present day (although most definitely more of the late 1900s). I couldn’t recognize every reference, but I caught some prominent ones relating to King Kong, The Iron Giant, Mad Max, Chucky and more. The best tribute in the film is to The Shining, which is also one of the more elaborate ones. You’ll understand why when you see it. Funnily enough, Spielberg also pays tribute to his own film (Jurassic Park). 

It’s no coincidence that the film, with its many “Easter eggs,” premiered this Easter weekend. Overall, there really is something for everyone. The quest functions as an exploration of the inner mind of the endearing Halliday, which is a nice balance to the heavy action sequences and chases. The film is also bolstered by a capable cast (and crew), particularly Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke, who have bright cinematic futures ahead of them. Most importantly, it delves into the questions many of us have about virtual reality: will it detract from the problems of the real world? Could it even replace our need for a physical world? How much is too much? Some critics complained about the lack of character development, but if you ask me, Ready Player One is worth it just for the thrill. 

Contact Gloria Han at [email protected]gate.edu.