What makes a film so captivating, that it stands out a cut above the rest? What makes such a film so compelling that you wouldn’t mind rewatching the film until you have every word in the dialogue memorised?
Generally, these films enthrall and entice us with special game changing moments such as a strong hero moment, where good overcomes the odds to triumph over evil, or a story which makes the unbelievable appear real, or even a plot which heavily plays on our love for nostalgia and spectacular effects. Often, it can be the combination of several of these gratifying moments.
Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg’s gift to pop culture enthusiasts the world over, is such a film. Based on the popular novel by Ernest Cline, the film encapsulates every aspect of retro ‘geekdom’, bringing with it an essence of nostalgia that will have audiences fondly remembering their childhood days.
Each decade has produced key films that have defined that particular era and time period. Ready Player One certainly has the potential of being a cult classic with its topical themes surrounding technology and the virtual world, real life relations in the face of a growing reliance on virtual gratification, and its inclusion of serious fun. Upon first glance, Ready Player One truly has the makings of a Back To The Future or Tron equivalent, with showing audiences exactly what the future could possibly hold.
Despite being set in the future, the film’s narrative has a very 80s feel to it, predominantly due to the various throwbacks to the era, along with hit tracks from the decade acting as the film’s soundtrack. The narrative is, in many ways, built on a similar 80s film premise, wherein an underdog attempts to take down a large evil corporation; only here, this requires beating the opposition at their own game and getting a head start into unlocking clues in order to triumph.
The film follows Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) as he attempts to solve the mystery behind Halliday’s Egg, and gain control of the Oasis, a virtual world he engages frequently in order to escape his dismal reality. In his attempt, he befriends Aech (Lena Waithe), Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Daito (Win Morisaki) and Sho (Philip Zhao), who help him on his quest to reach the Egg before Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), CEO of Innovative Online Industries (“IOI) and an evil corporate suit, does.
The premise is certainly compelling and while there are plenty of retro references to keep fans entertained, there was also enough content dealing with futuristic technology to enthrall us. The Oasis is a gold mine of fun and adventure, and could very well be something that we could one day experience, seeing as there are constantly new advancements to virtual reality and augmented reality technology. This added to the awe and wonder that can be felt throughout the film.
Unlike other films of its kind, the one thing which stood out to me was the way in which the film managed to treat each character as being equal. Despite their ethnicity or gender, each of the main characters played a crucial role in the film, with Art3mis being a complete badass, able to hold her own against Parzival (Wade’s online persona).
I most definitely appreciated having a strong female character fight to win alongside the rest of the cast. Of course, I also enjoyed seeing non-Caucasian characters get plenty of screen time. Unlike many other films, Ready Player One is a film that couldn’t care less about race, gender, or any other factor which, unfortunately in our reality, often is a cause for inequality and discrimination. All the film cared about is the online persona of the characters, which is completely acceptable as one can be anything or anyone in the Oasis.
Another notable feature of the film which made an impression was the way in which the film managed to dazzle with perfectly executed scenes, superb character development and ultimately, a well put together narrative that had Spielberg’s name written all over it. Ready Player One was just one of those films that had me wanting to stand up and cheer every five minutes.
Of course, a major aspect which helped make the film a magical delight to watch was the brilliant CGI graphics, visual effects and aesthetics. The film was, put simply, an ocular feast or eyegasm to put it crudely. The visuals were awe-inspiring and pleasurable, making the film all the more enticing to sit through.
Ready Player One is, without a doubt, one of the best films of the year so far and one which kept my eyes glued to the screen. Bringing out my sentimental nature and love for all things pop culture was certainly a factor in my enjoyment of the film, but it was the narrative, the characters, the visuals and of course the kick-ass soundtrack that truly had me wanting to rewatch the film all over again as soon as the end-credits rolled. Ready Player One is certainly a film that astonishes in more ways than one and showcases the Spielberg magic. I can’t recommend the film enough.