Ready Player One – I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by including in this article’s title one of the last lines being pronounced in this movie directed by Steven Spielberg, which is being released this week in Montreal. Indeed “Ready Player One” may be seen as a fable whose moral is precisely the importance of being aware of our existence in this, the real world. A helpful warning in these times when many people have become addicted to all kinds of electronic devices that take us away from interpersonal relations and interactions with nature.
Besides these considerations that I make based on my background in both education and philosophy, “Ready Player One” is also an interesting piece of cinematic art, where, if it is even true that visual effects are essential, the story is worth examining for its many connotations and twists.
The story is set in 2045 in a mostly rundown Columbus, Ohio, the place where our young hero Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) lives. Like most of the population in the city, he is a fan of the videogame Oasis, where he enjoys the company of virtual friends whom he had never met in person. When multibillionaire James Halliday (Mark Rylance), creator of the immensely popular videogame dies, he set a sort of Easter egg chase; the winner would inherit his enormous fortune and also the control of Oasis. The contest unleashes a frantic competition with the villain, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) using all his power as a leading executive of the Oasis corporation, to get the three keys that should lead to obtaining the final prize. Watts, who in the game uses the name Parzival, joins Samantha Cooks, a.k.a. Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Aech (Leena Waithe) and other young misfits on the same quest, but with an entirely different motivation than that of Sorrento’s.
One of the funniest moments in the story occurs when the search for a crucial past episode in the life of Halliday takes our heroes into the plot of that movie which happens to be “The Shining.” The horror classic, in this case, becomes a source of comic misfortunes especially for Aech, after entering the terrifying room 237. There are other references or comparisons to situations in other movies, particularly “The Matrix” concerning the interrelation between virtual and “real” reality.
The movie doesn’t lack in action scenes either, particularly toward the end when in the virtual reality a massive battle takes place, while in the real world our heroes, hiding in an old post office delivery truck, are fighting the enemy in the videogame. One note on that sequence: by 2045, the year in which the story takes place, driverless cars should be the norm and therefore to drive by then would be much a forgotten skill as today writing a letter on a typewriter would be. Maybe Spielberg thought that a car chase with computerized vehicles wouldn’t be as exciting as it may be with real people.
“Ready Player One” is based on a novel by Ernest Cline, who also wrote the script with Zak Penn. It is a movie that provides entertainment for people of all ages, although children too young might have a problem in following all the twists of the plot. The film also contains many scenes of violence.
Length: 140 min.