READY PLAYER ONE Review – Shall We Play a Game?

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READY PLAYER ONE Review by Staci Layne Wilson

Ready Player One ReviewFrom Tron to War Games, and The Matrix to Nerve, — the idea of living la vida loca inside a VR game has been studied in cinema pixel-by-pixel for decades now. Some fare better than others. I’m pleased to report that Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One comes out near the top of the binary heap.

I haven’t read the book it’s based on but I’ve heard it’s a nerd’s paradise: page after page of finite detail on video games of the ’80s, Yuppie-decade movies, and Reagan-era pop songs. The film version has the same stuff, but thankfully a picture is worth a thousand words. Spielberg spins into the atmosphere but he doesn’t get bogged down in the minutia.

Ready Player One takes place 27 years in the future. The U.S. has been plunged to the brink of economic disaster, suffers from drought and overcrowding, and is subject to “bandwidth bandits.” What’s more, everyone is so obsessed with pop culture they’ve forgotten how to interact with actual human beings. Sound familiar? Well, thankfully that’s where the similarities end. Otherwise the movie would be far too depressing.

Basically, Ready Player One is a wild and diverting adventure that takes us into a VR world where anything can happen. Anyone can be a hero, a champion, or—if he plays his game right—the owner of vast and monied empire. In this case, “anyone” is one Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and he’s determined to win the keys to the kingdom. The kingdom is OASIS, a virtual world filled with creatures ranging from The Incredible Hulk to Chucky. It’s up for grabs because, on his deathbed, the creator of OASIS, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), set up the ultimate game.

Think Monty Python’s Holy Grail crossed with Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket. One of the best sequences—and chilling in its own PG-13 way—is a virtual trip to The Overlook Hotel, made famous in The Shining, complete with the undead Grady Twins and blood-filled elevators.

Wade is just a teenage fanboy in the everyday dystopia, but inside the OASIS he’s known by his online handle, Parzival (a riff on King Arthur’s knight Percival), and he is an invincible warrior… or so he thinks. Sheridan’s performance is grounded (as possible, given the milieu). He makes for an interesting and layered hero we don’t mind following even after the eye-candy starts to give us a case of cinematic cavities.

While it does begin to wear thin toward the end, Spielberg’s sci-fi popcorn extravaganza does exactly what it’s supposed to: entertain.

Rated PG-13

2 hours 19 minutes

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READY PLAYER ONE Review by Staci Layne Wilson



READY PLAYER ONE Review by Staci Layne Wilson

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Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson

Staci Layne Wilson is an accomplished writer / director / producer / film critic and the author the bestseller So L.A. - A Hollywood Memoir. Find her on

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