The Phoenix

Ready Player One ultimately disappoints

Nostalgia for 80s and 90s pop culture has been very popular recently. This is especially evident in shows like Stranger Things and old action movie remakes. This boom of nostalgia has led to an adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One. The book follows Wade Watts as he looks for 3 keys in the Oasis, a virtual reality world full of 80s and 90s pop culture references. He must find these keys before an evil corporation and save the future of the Oasis.

Blockbuster master Steven Spielberg is the director of the new film adaptation, and while he crafts some memorable action sequences, the bland characters, bad dialogue and underdeveloped ideas hold the movie back.

Just like in the book, Wade Watts is the main protagonist of the film. Tye Sheridan (X-Men Apocalypse) plays Wade and he does his best. Sheridan gives a decent performance, but he is given very poor dialogue to deliver. Much of the dialogue is either exposition, a reference to a film or video game, or a cringe-worthy joke with video game lingo. If Sheridan had more charisma, the poor dialogue might have been more tolerable. Wade as a character lacks characterization as well. Wade is given a generic backstory and traits. These two combine to create a bland character that is boring to watch.

Sheridan stars alongside another newcomer, Oliva Cooke (Thoroughbreds) as Samantha. She meets Wade in the Oasis and they work together to find the keys.  However, just like Wade, her character is poorly written. Just like Sheridan, she gives a decent performance, but the movie utilizes her as a generic love interest for a generic hero. The movie spends no time developing her backstory or motivations.

The action in Ready Player One is excellent. Spielberg is a master of creating great action scenes, and this movie is no exception. The camerawork, editing, and visual effects are all very well done. But, while watching The Iron Giant throw Chucky the Doll to a person driving the Delorean from Back to The Future is awesome, the weak characters leave the action feeling weightless. The standout sequence took place at The Overlook Hotel from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

The film contains messages of the dangers of video games and virtual reality. This is very poignant to today’s society because of the reliance on virtual reality. However, the movie doesn’t spend enough time developing this idea, which leaves it feeling shallow.  However, it is admirable that the film included these ideas in the first place.

Ready Player One is ultimately a disappointment. All the talent behind and in front of the camera are capable, but they cannot save the poor screenplay. The film feels like a Young Adult movie adaptation, in a similar vein as The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner franchises. This is not a compliment.

Spielberg steps up to the plate and creates multiple memorable action sequences that are bolstered by outstanding special effects work, but no matter how good these action sequences are, they feel empty because of the poorly developed characters.

5/10

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