Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One”, released on March 29, is an adaptation of the Ernest Cline’s book of the same name. “Ready Player One” takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, in the year 2044, where consequences of overpopulation, global warming and energy crises are rampant. To escape the poverty and bleakness of the real world, people turn to the OASIS, a virtual reality game. Everyone plays the OASIS, which becomes their “real world.” In the OASIS, one can meet others and create whatever reality one can imagine. “Ready Player One” begins when the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, dies and announces that he has left an Easter egg inside the OASIS. The player who wins the challenges and finds the Easter egg will be given control of the OASIS. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), the protagonist of the film, lives in a severely impoverished community but becomes involved in the race for the Easter egg when he wins the first challenge. Watts, in conjunction with a team he forms, has to fight against the Innovative Online Industries (IOI) for the Easter egg. Eventually, Watts and his team win the challenges and take control of the OASIS.
“Ready Player One” starts to explore important global themes such as internet access, overpopulation and the use of virtual reality. While these themes were sometimes overshadowed by an emphasis on a good versus evil story, the movie still started important conversations.
The villainous company of the film, IOI, seeks to control the OASIS for monetary purposes. The head of the company, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), makes it clear if IOI gets control of the OASIS, they will limit control based on financial status. For example, those who can afford to pay more will have greater access and ability to operate in the OASIS. This topic is not completely removed from reality, as the problem of internet access based on financial status is rampant in today’s society.
While the theme of overpopulation is not directly addressed, it is evident throughout the film that this is a problem plaguing the society. Most citizens, including Watts, are forced to live in communities called “stacks” where housing is comprised of trailer parks stacked on top of each other.
The use of virtual reality is obviously central to the film. People use the OASIS as an escape from the problems of the real world. The film fits with the trends of the world as this is the type of society being fostered. It is easy to see how the use of virtual society could expand to this level by 2044.
I would have liked “Ready Player One” to expand on plot lines and themes central to the movie, but I recognize that these are explained within the book and there is simply not enough time to develop them in the movie. However, it did seem that some plot details were absent in exchange for cool action movie graphics.
For instance, the details of the war between IOI and the rebellion are not given. We learn that one of Wade’s accomplices, Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), is part of this rebellion, yet this underground group is hardly explained.
Aside from the brief overview given by Wade at the beginning of the movie, there is little character development. It would have been nice to understand more of the characters background to give insight and better emotional connection the film.
For those interested in seeing the film, I think anybody with a slight interest in sci-fi films would be entertained. While the film draws heavily on 1980’s pop-culture, the decade the creator of the OASIS lived in, it is not necessary to have knowledge of it prior to seeing the film. However, a basic knowledge of ‘80’s pop-culture would aid in expanding an appreciation of the film.
Overall, “Ready Player One” introduces important themes in an entertaining and engaging way and lacks only minor plot development. The plot details “Ready Player One” lacks are explained in the book and, characteristically, were cut out of the movie. The film is still entertaining, especially for those with a love of sci-fi ‘80’s films, and addresses issues that the next generation will need to combat.
This is a very well done article and I loved this movie! Although I have to say I think the movie did a good job at subtly examining more of the complex issues of virtual reality than you may give it credit for. There were good references to the idea of being unable to distinguish between a virtual world and the real world, being trapped within a virtual world whether voluntarily or not, and the risks of sharing personal information in such large, connected virtual places.