Rated PG-13 | 140 mins.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance
If you're one of those people that proclaims themselves a "proud nerd" then there's about a 100% chance that you've read the excellent 2011 novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. There's also about a 100% chance that you've been highly anticipating the film since the trailer was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con last summer. When two more trailers came out, there was an abundance of Easter eggs to hunt for. In fact, the New Rockstars YouTube channel made nearly 40 minutes worth of content trying to point out every reference they could pinpoint and that (probably) wasn't even everything! Trailers are only one to two minutes long, so good luck to them trying to break down an entire 140-minute movie. Also, minor spoilers ahead.
Let the record show that the film and the novel are almost nothing alike, but that's not necessarily a bad thing in Player's case. It happens a lot when books are adapted into movies, and that can be seen as a bad thing, but Spielberg and Cline turn it into something that's good. The book always has the upper hand since it has room to explain back stories and we get to learn every little detail about each character. However, movies also have an advantage because it gives us the opportunity to finally get a visual representation of what the author was projecting into our minds as a reader. It was the right choice to have the book's author write the screenplay as well as the most influential director at the helm.
The film is set in the year 2045 and the world has become obsessed escapism via an online platform called the Oasis. You get to be whoever you want to be and do whatever the hell you want to do. You want to be Master Chief driving Speed Racer's Mach 5 driving through the German Autobahn? Done. There are no limits to what you can do or experience once you enter this expansive RPG that players stay in for days or weeks at a time (they take breaks only to eat and use the restroom in the real world). The movie truly is the holy grail of pop culture. "Is that who I think it is?!" is a question that you'll keep asking yourself and also, the answer is yes.
One day, the creator of this alternate reality, James Halliday (Rylance), dies and posthumously reveals that he's hidden three different keys in this massive online world that leads to total control of the Oasis and minuscule $500 billion. The main character, Wade aka Parzival (Sheridan), is an egg hunter (aka "gunter") from the ghettos of Cleveland who cross-references his knowledge of Halliday and his pop culture knowledge to lead him to the first key, which begins a ripple effect. He quickly realizes that the big, bad corporate guy (Mendelsohn) from Innovative Online Industries (IOI) is on his tail and uses his good squad to get ahead and take control of the Oasis for himself.
Player moved quickly from the get-go, not giving us enough background, but it eventually found it's footing to give us incredible climaxes and stunning visuals, which is really what this movie is all about. The film represented and recreated for the second key was an especially pleasant delight. From a writing standpoint, it was good. Obviously, the book was far superior, but Cline made adjustments accordingly. There could've been a grander score, but that wasn't a major issue, and T.J. Miller lends his voice to what seems like every animated character these days, so he could've been easily replaced. But the fact that we get to see the Iron Giant and RX-78-2 take on Mechagodzilla!? Never thought that would ever be a possibility to see on screen and now the world has been blessed with this film. Well played, Mr. Spielberg. ★★★
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