It’s always important to build a connection between the audience and what we’re watching on our screens. It’s what gets us involved and what keeps us coming back to our favorite movies for years and years. When you’re unable to do that, you sometimes end up with pictures like Ready Player One. There are some positive features, but the lack of necessary attachments are noticeable and leave you feeling more underwhelmed than you may have expected.
Based in the year 2045 when the world is a harsh place, this film follows Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a young man who spends his time in the OASIS, an immersive virtual universe where you can go anywhere and be anyone. Created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the OASIS is now available for anyone to own. All they need to do is win a three-part contest he designed before passing away. This is an enticing deal for everyone. It’s something Watts wants to accomplish, but he finds out that danger comes with that type of ambition in the form of a ruthless corporation looking to sway the game in their favor.
I found myself settling in and getting comfortable with what was taking place in the first act. At this point, they’re laying everything out and getting everything prepared in a way that gets you ready to witness something that could be wildly entertaining. In my opinion, this is one of the ways you build up a film that should be an epic and engrossing blockbuster.
With the setup being as well done as it is, I was hoping and kind of expecting the second act to hold up to what came before it. However, that doesn’t happen as the movie slows to a drag while introducing a love story that was poorly developed and too swift. It would have been nice if they would have focused more on both of those aspects in order to give this movie proper pacing and an arc that flowed along with it.
Instead, we are handed something that’s kind of clunky and uneven. As I pointed it out, some of this has to do with the love story moving so quickly. There’s no build up as it feels unbelievable and far more forced than it should have. Slowing this part down and developing the other stuff more could have possibly remedied the problem and made this seem more organic.
Another thing that hinders Ready Player One is the fact that we’re never able to connect with any of the characters. Under some circumstances, we could at least hope to bond with the protagonist or antagonist, but that’s not the case in this picture. With that being the way it is, it’s hard to see how anyone could fall in love with this. It’s fine based on what it is as a whole, but it’s missing some key features.
Having an intriguing and charismatic lead could have helped solve this issue. Instead of that, we get someone with no depth. Over the course of the films, we never really even get to know him as a person. In fact, we spend more time with the computerized version of him than we do with the real person. When you look at it, I guess you can say that he is actually the avatar and the video game version of him is the guy we’re supposed to be watching.
The antagonist isn’t much better. While Ben Mendelsohn is a fine actor, his character is also pretty bland and shallow. All we ever know about him is that he’s a greedy business man hoping to gain control of the OASIS. The characters end up being one of the main reasons behind this movie feeling so hollow since none of them assist in grabbing your attention. I guess you could blame the actors, but I believe the people behind the camera are the primary cause of this error.
What the film lacks in personality and depth it tries to make up for in references and “easter eggs.” Obviously, this was to be expected, but it shouldn’t rely on this as much as it does. Most of these things are amusing to see whenever they pop up, but they’re mostly just here for the sake of being here. I can appreciate stuff like this, but there needs to be more substance in and around it in order to make it worth our while.
The final act helps Ready Player One redeem itself a bit as it’s energetic and puts the spotlight on the elements that should have taken center stage from the outset. Like the first act, it can be engaging and entertaining enough to show you why making this particular movie was a good idea. There’s a large part of me that looks at these two acts and knows that there’s a great movie here that deserves a significant amount of fanfare, but we don’t really get it.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Film Length: 138 minutes
Release Date: March 29, 2018
Distributor: Warner Bros. pictures
- Score - 6/106/10