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Review: Ready Player One

Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest directors of all time. From Jaws to Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List to The Post, his films are always brilliantly made and some rank among the best films of all time. However, Spielberg’s more dramatic output has been of a higher quality than his blockbusters in recent years. With Ready Player One, he makes a flawed script into a hugely entertaining film which appeals to the nerd in all of us.

The plot according to IMDb is as follows- “When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune”.

Ready Player One has plenty of flaws. The script is poorly written, with thin characters and some clunky dialogue. Tye Sheridan, Lena Waithe and Hannah John-Kamen struggle with the basic material and make little impression. Some of the actors, Mark Rylance, Olivia Cooke and especially Ben Mendelsohn overcome their thin characterisation and are the best parts of the film. Mendelsohn, playing the villainous Nolan Sorrento is a hoot, bringing a real wry sense of humour and irony to the role. This speaks to Spielberg’s gifts as a director and these skills elevate the film from the mediocre to the great.

Spielberg’s direction of the various action sequences are the highlights of the film. The car race sequences are thrilling, chaotic but can be followed easier due to the brilliant editing and cinematography. The limitless toybox which the OASIS offers is taken advantage of, with King Kong and a T-Rex attacking the Back to the Future Delorean in a visual feast. The use of CGI is required in a film such as this and is deployed imaginatively and intelligently.
The references seemed like they might become insufferable, yet they are deftly deployed and subtle enough to not overwhelm. However, unless you are well versed in 80’s video games and certain films and musicians, then these elements might leave you cold. I enjoyed certain references and background characters: Robocop, Lara Croft and Christine the killer car all pop up at certain points to my joy.

Overall, Ready Player One is a flawed but fun summer blockbuster with an optimism and colour that is sorely lacking in most of our tentpole films. The fantastic performances of Mark Rylance and Ben Mendelsohn stand out but the real star is Spielberg. After his fantastically energised direction of The Post, this film makes clear that there is a bit of the old Spielberg magic left.

Ready Player One is in cinemas nationwide now. Image Source: Nerdist.com