Why watch ‘Ready Player One’?
Ready Player One is the latest blockbuster crafted at the hands of Steven Spielberg. The film mixes together top-notch action, special effects and plenty of popular culture references. All of which keeps it in line with the popular novel by Ernest Cline, on which the film’s plot is based. However, the film goes a few steps beyond the novel’s narrative – adopting new challenges and visual tricks to enthrall the movie-viewing audience.
The Art of Filmmaking
The art of filmmaking is on display across each and every frame of Ready Player One. The film soars along at a frenetic pace, stuffing every moment full of visual references to pop cultural icons such as: Godzilla, Iron Giant, Gundam, Voltron, Teenage Ninja Turtles and the Power Rangers. Add to that superhero and video game characters from Batman to Tracer (from Overwatch).
If that seems like a step too far, Spielberg then adopts even further references to classic films. Ready Player One is truly meta-literary with how its scope shifts and adopts all manner of cultural phenomena.
All of these references and the high energy storytelling make Ready Player One incredibly watchable. It shines with a visual intelligence. This means it is not merely a film stuffed with references. It is a film which has carefully selected its visual cues. All while providing CGI that reflects the video game world of the film’s narrative.
In brief, Ready Player One is the most fun I have had at the cinemas in a long time. Does that make it the best film ever? Not by a long shot. But it is a very clever adaptation of a novel where the premise outshone the writing manner.
Themes and Ideas
Earth is now a world where being ‘geeky’ or ‘nerdy’ has almost become ‘in.’ Celebrities are streaming Fortnite. Rick and Morty created real-life stampedes in McDonalds fast-food chains. Star Wars and Marvel blockbusters draw the biggest crowds. And here, Ready Player One reflects this.
Spielberg sets his story of real-life people in a world of ‘wish-fulfilment.’ Spielberg then directs his narrative to discuss how the real world is bigger than any of the references populating his film. Real-life he argues is the true oasis. Not the video game world of the OASIS, which is a hide-away for all people. To that end, some of the most powerful scenes in the film are when Spielberg shows everyday people hiding away in virtual reality. Highlighting how their bodies are moving around normally and falling over furniture and into walls, while they are stuck in this game.
Some critics have accused Ready Player One of acting as a form of gatekeeping. Essentially, they state that the film’s narrative serves only to promote a sense of elitism at being geeky. I would dismiss this personally, arguing that the film does precisely the opposite. That the story of the film is focused on discussing how elitism leads only to regret and the downfall of corporations and individuals. To me the film’s story is one which highlights the importance of courage, loyalty. All things that are ‘real’ and true.
The one negatives I would argue with this film are that at times its targeting seems to fall off balance. There are elements that make this a ‘young adult’ film. There are elements that make it a family film. Yet the balance between these moments sometimes shifts in daft ways. Such as for instance the romantic subplots or the use of word comedy.
Despite a few minor issues, on the whole Ready Player One is a film that is a must-watch. It is fun, full of science fiction and fantasy elements. It has plenty of action and provides references that fans of all things pop culture can enjoy. Comedy is plentiful across the film as well. All of which makes this a special visual feast for the eyes, but with themes that are relevant and also may touch the soul. Are you ready, viewer one?
Ready Player One
- Non-stop fun, action, comedy and fantasy/sci-fi
- Great worldbuilding
- Well directed, with excellent use of pop culture references
- Might be seen to be nerd/geek 'gatekeeping'
- Might be seen as 'a list of references'
- Some minor 'cheesy' elements that unbalance the tone some small degree