“Wade/Parzival” (Tye Sheridan) is a young lad living in the “Stacks”, Ohio USA in 2045. Essentially a trailer park on steroids populated by glazed inhabitants, living in decrepit trailers, perched precariously on top of each other.
Life is hard, life is miserable so why not escape into a fantasy world?
Within the Oasis you can be whoever you want to be, assuming an Avatar, which by 2045 is way more important than your real life. You can of course gain more powers, tools and weapons either through experience, fighting or the concept well known to gamer’s, “in app purchases”.
When Halliday died, he decided to leave control and his trillions to whoever could win a contest of his own devising, comprising three intricate quests. These will not be easy, Halliday being a classic geek, devised these quests around his formative 1980’s upbringing, including many computer games/devices of that era. These would ultimately lead to the “Easter Egg”, holding the key to all the power and money anyone could wish for.
Like all Oasis users, Wade/Parzival is obsessed with finding and completing these quests. The pantomime villain of the piece, “Sorrento” (Ben Mendelsohn) and his corporate army of “6-er’s” is also aiming to get there first to impose their will on The Oasis.
The quest is a highly competitive arena, chased by egg hunters or “gunters” and whilst Parzival has a few online close buddies, “Aech” (Lena Waithe), “Daito” (Win Morisaki) and “Sho” (Philip Zhao) who he has never met, they refuse to combine forces.
Later Parzival gets to know “Art3mis” (Olivia Cooke) commencing a YA type romance/yearning, “kissy, kissy” stuff for young adult viewers.
The film is based on the highly successful novel by Ernest Cline. “Based on” is used loosely here, as the plot deviates dramatically from the source material. As most readers/film goers realize, translating books to the big screen is difficult, often with the heart and soul of the book, ripped out and replaced with glossy visuals.
Whilst both accusations could be leveled at this film by director Steven Spielberg, taken in isolation this is great fun with stunning visuals, notably the opening chase sequence.
What is lost, is the depth of the various quests which bear no resemblance to the book, as many of the geeky references are translated to more cinematic references.
Acting wise, it’s adequate rather than great but to be fair the amount of actual non CGI/motion capture acting for most characters is very limited, no acting awards will be troubled here.
As you would expect the CGI/VR world sequences are expertly handled and represent the state of the art for such stories.
The film loses the thread towards the end, with Spielberg’s occasional sentimentality creeping in and stumbling to a damp squib, unrealistic ending. Almost like a Scooby Doo, “if it hadn’t been for those pesky kids” type moment.
If you want the full fat “Ready Player One Experience”, read the book. If however you want the semi skimmed, strawberry/chocolate confection, this movie will work just fine.
Maybe watch the film first and then enjoy the book, it works better that way.