In a dystopian future world human beings escape the drudge of their daily life by entering The Oasis via virtual reality. The Oasis is made up of endless different worlds where you can earn and spend “coins”, to live out your fantasies, upgrade your avatar and go on quests.
The most popular quest was set up by The Oasis’ late creator, James Halliday (Mark Rylance). Before his death Halliday hid three keys in the Oasis, promising that whoever found them would gain overall control of The Oasis, worth half a trillion dollars.
The Oasis is populated by “Gunters”, such as Parzival/Wade (Tye Sheridan) and his bestie Aech (Lena Waithe) who seek Halliday’s keys but they are not the only ones. Rival tech company IO lead by Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) are just as keen to get their hands on The Oasis and monetise the hell out of it while sucking the joy out of it.
When Parzival manages to find a new interpretion to a clue and catch the attention of fellow Gunter, Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), he has a sudden breakthrough meaning his dreams of completing Halliday’s quest might become a reality. Of course Sorrento isn’t happy and soon the threat to Parzival extends beyond his avatar into real life.
I read and loved the book this was based on and it’s immediately obvious that they are two quite different things. The book is much better at getting into the griminess of what Wade’s real life is like as well as how pervasive The Oasis is. In the book Wade even attends school in the Oasis. The relationship between Parzival and Art3mis is also much more developed.
That said, Ready Player One looks incredible and is a lot of fun. The pop culture references in the book were great but they really bounce off the screen and there are little Easter eggs everywhere. Mr O was so busy pointing them out I sometimes had trouble actually following what was happening. It made me want to create an avatar and visit The Oasis, which is surely an achievement.
There is a bit of a missed opportunity to delve into of what is real versus what people present and just how well you can know someone you have never met in person. It’s glossed over but it could have taken this from a colourful popcorn movie to something deeper. The same can be said about Halliday being trapped in the past and how the creator of something so entertainment and fun focused was essentially a miserable loner (*cough* Zuckerberg *cough*). The performances are serviceable but without any real standouts. Possibly that’s because I can’t think of Rylance as anything other than Flop from Bing.
Overall a fun watch but if you’ve not read the book do yourself a favour and read that too!