At The Movies: Ready Player One

I think I’m getting too old for this.

In my youth I probably would have loved “Ready Player One.” All the shiny special effects and pop culture references and over-the-top action sequences…so what if the plot is paper thin and the characters are even less substantial? It’s got the Iron Giant fighting Mechagodzilla!

But I’m old now, getting older every day. And all that shiny special effects is just so much sensory overload and I’m tired of characters I don’t care about and I’ve seen variations of a thousand times going through the motions of a familiar story that has no depth.

Still, seeing a T-Rex and King Kong smashing up racing cars was pretty darn cool.

Still, I wish I’d gone to see “Isle of Dogs” instead.

ready-player-oneDirected by Steven Spielberg and based on a novel by Ernest Cline, “Ready Player One” is set in the pretty dystopian world of 2045. To escape the unbearable harshness of reality, people spend most of their time in a virtual world known as the OASIS.

The game was created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance), an eccentric sort who, before his death, hid three keys somewhere in the OASIS. Whoever finds these keys will claim ownership of the virtual world and all the treasure that goes with it.

Among those searching for the keys is young Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), the central player in our story. Years pass with no success until Wade finally cracks the secret to surviving Round 1 and grabs the first key. He’s joined in his search by new love interest Samantha (Olivia Cooke) and his friends (fully approved by The Diversity Council): Aech (Lena Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao) and Dalto (Win Morisaki).

There has to be a villain to the piece, of course, and for this tale it is as Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the CEO of Innovative Online Industries. Nolan wants IOI to control the OASIS and has an army of drones and considerable resources at his command.

But since when has a slimy corporate weasel with limitless power been able to stand up to a plucky teenager and his pals?

“Ready Player One” is the latest in the never-ending string of movies that are big on spectacle and light on everything else. It is pretty impressive spectacle at times, and sure it’s fun to see so many icons of pop culture pop up all over the place. But the story is bland and lacking in creativity and the cast is made up of stock characters. And at 2 hours, 20 minutes, it’s about 30 minutes too long.

I suspect you will love this movie more if you are really into videogame culture, but I haven’t owned a gaming system since the Sega Genesis, so I’m clearly out of touch there.

 

 

 

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