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Ready Player One - A fun pop-culture filled sci-fi flick

by Roisin Gordon. Published Tue 10 Apr 2018 19:54

Steven Spielberg returns to his sci-fi roots with the action-packed Ready Player One.

With its endless pop-culture references, spectacular visual effects and likeable characters, it proves to be one of Spielberg’s most fun movies in decades.

Based on Ernest Cline’s sci-fi novel, the story takes place in 2045, where the earth has become desolate and overpopulated. To escape their bleak surroundings, everyone can engage in a virtual reality programme called OASIS, where the only limit is your imagination and allows you to go anywhere, do and be anything you want.

When OASIS creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) died, he created a three-part treasure hunt filled with references to his obsession with pop culture, where the prize is Halliday’s massive fortune, as well as full ownership of OASIS.

Our main hero is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) also known by his virtual name Parzival, an orphaned teenager who becomes the first person to fully complete the first quest.

Along with his friends known as the ‘High-Fivers’ who also appear at the top of the scoreboard, they work together to solve the rest of Halliday’s quests.

Although not everything is set to go smoothly, as a corrupt CEO Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) also has his eye on the prize, and is prepared to go out of his way to prevent Wade and the rest of the High-Fivers from completing the treasure hunt.

This film has proven to be a welcomed return to the sci-fi genre for Spielberg, which serves as a reminder to us all about the magic that he brought to his earlier films.

It feels very much like a dystopian version of Willy Wonka, and whilst it isn’t the first film to rely on pop culture references and 80’s nostalgia as part of their appeal. You are drawn into the exhilarating action scenes, as well as Wade’s journey from zero to hero.

The design of OASIS looks vibrant and stylized, where the CGI creates an environment that makes you feel like you’re in an actual video game.

This is shown in the racing scenes at the beginning of the film, which feels like being in a Super Mario Kart game, with a few pop culture references thrown in. They prove to be so thrilling and fast-paced that you have so much fun watching them.

Considering it must have been a copyright nightmare for Spielberg to get the rights to most of the pop-culture references in Cline’s novel, he does a fantastic job at paying tribute to some of the most beloved movies and music of the past couple of decades.

Some are obvious such as the Iron Giant and the DeLorean from Back to the Future, whilst others are a little more subtle and can be easily missed when you watch it first time around. However it’s a treat for lovers of pop culture and you have fun spotting each reference.

This includes a recreation of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, which the High-Fivers must explore for clues. It’s incredible how much attention to detail that went into recreating the scenes from the film.

It retains the chilling atmosphere of the original film, as well as adding a little comedy to the scene with Aech being unfamiliar with the film, and is horrified at what he encounters along the way.

Despite the dazzling special effects and fun story, the one thing where the film falls a little flat is the character development. Whilst we meet some interesting characters along the way, the film either doesn’t go into enough detail or rushes some of the development.

The relationship between Wade/Parzival and Samantha/Art3mis was sweet but also felt a little rushed, instead of being given enough time to develop it properly. It’s a shame because their romance was genuinely likeable, and the actors displayed great chemistry with each other.

Art3mis and Aech are given a fair amount of attention, but the rest of the High-Fivers feel underused. Whilst understandably their roles were a little bigger, it would have been nice to give some more screen to Daito and Sho, so that we could’ve gotten to know them a little more.

Tye Sheridan gives a likeable performance as Wade Watts, that makes you root for him throughout his journey.

He does a great job of going from a geeky and awkward teenager who wants nothing more than to lose himself in a virtual reality, to being the unlikely hero through his bravery and determination as he battles for the prize.

Olivia Cooke also gives a great performance as Art3mis, whose badass and witty persona serves as a great match to the geeky Wade.

She was also given emotional scenes to work with, where she does a great job at displaying a much vulnerable and softer side to her character.

Ben Mendelsohn is entertaining as the main villain, his arrogant and power hungry attitude results in a performance so over the top that you have so much fun watching him on screen.

Ready Player One is a fun and action-packed film, that proves to be Spielberg’s welcomed return to the sci-fi genre.

Purple Revolver Rating: 4/5- action-packed fun



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