Video game movies don’t always go over so well with either their fans or movie-goers, but movies about video games is a different story, and ironically this film started out as a novel. Written by Ernest Cline and adapted to the big screen by Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One is a high concept fiction grounded in reality.
Columbus, Ohio 2045. The world has changed and society now revolves round a virtual reality online role-playing game, the OASIS. In the OASIS, everybody has an avatar, everything from an anime-esque version of your real self to superheroes and classic video game characters (side note, just how much it must have cost to use the likeness of so many iconic characters just as cameos?). The OASIS hosts every game ever made, the OASIS itself was created my genius and trillionaire James Halliday (Mark Rylance) who before his death hid an Easter egg in the OASIS that will give the player who finds it Hallidays shares of his company, effectively giving them ownership of the entire OASIS.
Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is a hardcore Halliday fanatic, hoping that the prize will dig him out of poverty, sets out to find the first key as his avatar Parzival and his best friend Aech (Lena Waithe). The first challenge is an impossible race course, Wade meets pro egg hunter Art3mis (Olivia Cook). Wade-as Parzival- goes to the Halliday archive to search for clues left by Halliday himself on how to beat the challenge, and does so. Parzival wins the challenge and earns the first key.
Word of Parzival’s success soon reaches Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) the CEO of Innovative Online Industries, the biggest competitor of the OASIS. IOI wants to win the challenge and take the majority share of the OASIS, and basically rule the world (Of course!). Bad enough that they control people by racking up in-game debt and arresting people in the real world for not paying up. (Is that better or worse than EA’s lootboxes and microtransactions? You made the call.)
Sorrento employs pro player i-Rok (TJ Miller) to head off Parzival before he completes the challenges. Parzival enlists help from Art3mis and Aech along with friends Sho and Diato to beat Sorrento to the prize and prevent real life lives being lost.
Ready Player One might just be the best video game movie ever made, part social commentaryand part cautionary tale about technology invading people’s lives, and sheer amount of fan service they put into it is labour of love in itself. It’s a story about connecting with others and fighting for something everybody loves is all too real, under all the gorgeous graphics and shiny colours, it shows some real heart.
(You know what’s weird? Despite so many game avatars not one of them is Hana Song aka D.va. We see Tracer in the OASIS, so where’s D.va? Or would that be too meta?)
By Daniel Murphy