‘Ready, Player One’ presents a fun trip down memory lane

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Tye Sheridan in Ready Player One (2018)

In an ever-growing genre of great video game movies (Wreck-It Ralph, Jumanji, Tomb Raider, etc.), it may seem like another addition might become white noise. Steven Spielberg’s newest masterpiece, “Ready, Player One,” is one of my favorite action movies of the year and arguably one the best video game movies ever.

“Ready, Player One” is set in an economically precarious future where the main distraction is an immersive virtual reality game called “OASIS.” It’s an immense game system where anything is possible for your personal avatar. After the creator of OASIS dies, he leaves an impossible scavenger hunt, the prize being complete control of OASIS. After solving the first clue, Wade Watts, a teenager from Columbus, Ohio, must race to complete the puzzle and protect OASIS.

This movie is a blast to watch. The storyline is fast-paced and has several tense moments. It’s fascinating to see what Spielberg and the novel’s author, Ernest Cline, envision for their technological future. The nonstop 80s nostalgia is the icing on the cake, transforming a mediocre science-fiction film into great entertainment.

While some critics may oppose the nostalgic factor of this movie, it was, frankly, one of my favorite parts. The soundtrack integrated numerous 80s hits and there was an inordinate amount of classic 80s movie and video game references that I loved. I especially loved composer Alan Silvestri’s nods to his work on “Back to the Future” by inserting his iconic themes into this film.

The special effects for this film were mind-blowing. Since the characters are portrayed by avatars, there were large sections of the film that were entirely CGI, but the blend from CGI to real life was seamless. “Ready, Player One” perfectly balances the CGI; it provides several stunning shots, but knows when to pull back to properly tell its story.

I also enjoyed the casting in this movie. It was exciting to see some newer break-out actors instead of the film relying on name recognition alone. The performances by Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke and Lena Waithe were very fun to watch. These actors also had to do voice-over for their OASIS avatars. Despite the fact that these are two very different types of acting, these actors did an exceptional job at both.

My one complaint with this movie is that it took itself a little too seriously. Although the nostalgia made this film a blast, without that factor it would likely be a pretty boring movie. The characters are one-dimensional and the plot is not groundbreaking. This type of story has been told countless times, and I wish that there something more original, similar to Spielberg’s earlier works, that could make this film something truly special.

Besides these faults, this film is a colorful collage of pop culture. It’s obvious that this movie is a passion project for Spielberg, and so we can join in on the fun for this trip down memory lane, but not necessarily put this work on his greatest hits shelf.

Rating: 7/10

Still in local theaters