Movie Review: ‘Ready Player One’

by Hunter Johnson

Steven Spielberg says that the three movies that were most difficult to make were: “Jaws,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Ready Player One.”

“Ready Player One” is the 33rd movie to be directed by Steven Spielberg and is written by Zak Penn and Earnest Cline, the author of the 2011 novel of the same name.

It tells the story of a future where virtual reality has become part of everyone’s world. Wade Watts must complete the VR game in order to stop a large corporation from winning the game first.

Spielberg has created a film that, while relying heavily on CGI, still feels real and breathtaking. He’s taken a movie that could’ve easily just been a popcorn-blockbuster action film and he’s turned it into a nostalgic love-letter to classic movies and videogames.

It is easy to see why Spielberg said the film was the hardest for him to make. “Ready Player One” is one of the most complicated and intricate movies made in recent memory. It’s filled to the brim with world-building characters and background action, and it shows how hard Spielberg worked to make this nearly impossible-to-adapt novel happen on screen.

The actors are also fantastic in their roles. Spielberg is known for getting brilliant performances out of young actors, and this film is no exception.

Tye Sheridan (Wade Watts), who recently played the purposefully unlikable Cyclops in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” is phenomenal in this film. He gives a nuanced and relatable performance to the character of Wade Watts, convincing audiences that while he is able to play everyone’s least liked superhero (in “X-Men”), he can also play everyone’s new favorite lead in this film.

While Olivia Cook, Ben Mendelsohn, and Simon Pegg all give great performances, the true scene-stealer is Mark Rylance, who plays James Halliday, the creator of the virtual reality game.

Ever since Spielberg discovered Rylance and put him as the leading role in “Bridge of Spies,” the two have become a true duo with Rylance also starring in “The BFG,” this movie, and Spielberg’s next film, “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara.” Rylance is simply one of the greatest and most overlooked actors of the modern age. He gives such a subtle and brilliant performance, and every moment he’s on screen is a gift.

On a technical standpoint, the movie is brilliant. The action scenes are staged nearly perfectly, and Spielberg has meticulously woven all the different storylines into one cohesive plot, making what should have been a convoluted mess into a film that makes sense.

The CGI animation of the virtual reality in this movie is excellent. Instead of trying to hide the fact that it’s animated, it embraces the fact that it doesn’t look real and uses that to its advantage. It makes the scenes that are in the real world that much more interesting.

This is only the fourth film in Spielberg’s resume not to be scored by John Williams. Alan Silvestri wrote the music for “Ready Player One,” and it turns he was a fantastic choice. The score for this film is superbly original and captivating and it gives the movie even more of a sense of wonderment and nostalgia.

“Ready Player One” is a movie that shouldn’t have worked. Its source material, while beloved, is not easy to adapt, and in the wrong hands this film could’ve easily been a pointless summer blockbuster with nothing to say. But in Spielberg’s hands, this movie has turned into a poignant look on society and videogames. It’s a fantastic addition to Spielberg’s resume and holds up with some of his best classics.

Hunter Johnson is a freshman theatre major and an arts and entertainment writer for Cedars. He spends his time acting on stage, reading and watching Star Wars, and occasionally doing homework.

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