Ready Player One Review - The Greatest Video Game Film to Date?

Projected Film: Ready Player One Review

Runtime: 139mins | Director: Steven Spielberg | Rating: 5 Stars

Usually, I’d save my answer to the question I posed in the title until the end of my review, but this time I’ll make an exception.

Let me be clear – Ready Player One is the greatest video game film to date despite not actually being based on a video game.

There, I said it.

The year is 2045 and the world has become a bleak and unforgiving place due to the ‘bandwidth riots’ (I have one of those every day with my teenage sister at home…) and other tragic events. In order to escape the harsh realities of the real world, people indulge in The OASIS – a virtual world where anything is possible; you can do what you want, be who you want, whenever you want. There are no limits.

Before his death, however, the creator of The OASIS, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), left three challenges which if completed would make the victor the sole heir to the virtual world with total creative control.

Therefore, when an unsuspecting nobody named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) completes the first challenge he soon finds himself hiding from others such as Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) who want control by any means necessary whilst trying to complete the remaining challenges with his team, ‘the High-Five’.

Projected Film: Ready Player One Review

Despite its source material being a book, Ready Player One exceeds all previous video game films - the only one which comes close, in my opinion, is Wreck-It Ralph.

The OASIS we see on the silver screen is a geek’s paradise - you can’t help wanting to be part of it. Visually, it’s stunning. And this is largely down to the incredible CGI used throughout (something I never thought I’d say - especially about a video game film).

Usually, the heavy use of CGI would set off alarm bells ringing in my head – after all, CGI is a risky business. If you get it right, it works wonders - if you get it wrong, you immediately lose your audience and the film appears amateur.

Fortunately, Ready Player One is left in the more than capable hands of veteran director, Steven Spielberg, who creates a visual masterpiece the likes of which I haven’t seen since James Cameron’s Avatar.

Projected Film: Ready Player One Review

What truly makes this the greatest video game film ever made though is the sheer amount of pop culture and video game references throughout. It’s a treasure trove.

Have you ever wanted to see a race between the DeLorean from Back to the Future against the van from The A-Team along with hundreds of other iconic cars?

No problem.

Not good enough for you? How about having the cars swerving out the way of famous monsters like the T-Rex from Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, or Jackson’s King Kong?

Done.

Still not satisfied? Tough crowd… well, what about having a full-scale war where characters such as Tracer from Overwatch, Chun Li from Street Fighter, Zitz from Battletoads and a squad of Halo soldiers fight a giant, mechanised Godzilla?

Sure - why not?

Projected Film: Ready Player One Review

Part of what makes Ready Player One so fun is the enjoyment and strange sense of satisfaction you gain from spotting as many references as you can.

That being said, sometimes it does feel a little overbearing.

At one point I questioned whether I was actually there to see the film or simply to satisfy my nerdy ego. But this was never in a way which made me feel distracted from the film itself.

The plot, in fact, which I assumed would be the weakest component of the film was surprisingly strong and kept me engrossed throughout. Whilst cliché at parts – particularly its predictable message of “the real world is better than the virtual one” aimed at the youth of today – it holds its own.

The romance between Wade and Samantha (Olivia Cooke) adds a touch of reality in an otherwise unrealistic world and the threat of Nolan Sorrento’s relentless corporate greed makes for a compelling motive. This is especially true when contrasted against the innocence of earlier games such as Warren Robinett’s ‘Adventureland’ as this provides a relevant and condemning jab at the increasing greed in the video game industry. Particularly against the prevalent use of microtransactions (‘spend £5 to buy the next level’ or ‘spend £10 to remove the adverts’).

By skilfully avoiding all the classic pitfalls a video game film usually succumbs to (as recently shown in the Tomb Raider reboot) Ready Player One reaches heights I previously thought weren’t possible for this genre.

More importantly though, Ready Player One signals a glorious return to the blockbuster for Steven Spielberg whilst also indulging in the nostalgia of his past filmography.

Frankly, no-one could have made this film better.

In short – if you like video games, blockbusters, or cinema in general, you should see this film. You are missing out if you don’t as the spectacle of it all will not be captured properly on a home screen.


To watch the trailer – click here!

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