Reviewed by: Francisco Gomez Jr.
Dystopian fantasy about the year 2044—with Earth wrecked by overpopulation, global warming, and an energy crisis due to a depletion of oil and coal—a world of slums in which most people spend their time in an interconnected virtual space called The OASIS
How might the Enemy of mankind use people’s interest in—and addiction to—living much of their life in a virtual world instead of the real world
Living as an outcast in a poverty-stricken district
orphans in the Bible
“Gunter”: an easter-egg hunter in a virtual reality world
An evil megacorporation
Hackers selling black market passwords and security exploits
Tye Sheridan … Wade Owen Watts a.k.a. Parzival—an orphan from the “stacks” surrounding metropolitan Oklahoma City
Ben Mendelsohn … Nolan Sorrento—the head of operations at Innovative Online Industries (IOI), the multinational corporation that serves as an Internet service provider for most of the world
Mark Rylance … James Donovan Halliday a.k.a. Anorak—creator of OASIS
Simon Pegg … Ogden Morrow a.k.a. Og
Olivia Cooke … Samantha “Sam” Evelyn Cook / Art3mis
Letitia Wright … Reb
Hannah John-Kamen … F'Nale Zandor
T.J. Miller … I-R0k
Lena Waithe … Aech / Hellen—Wade's best friend, fellow gunter, and rival
Susan Lynch … Aunt Alice
Ralph Ineson … Rick
Kae Alexander … Reb
Philip Zhao … Shoto—a Japanese gunter
Win Morisaki … Daito—a Japanese gunter
Julia Nickson … JN / Commuter
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De Line Pictures
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Warner Bros. Pictures
Steven Spielberg directs “Ready Player One” starring Tye Sheridan (Wade Watts), Olivia Cooke (Art3mis), Lena Waithe (Aech), and Ben Mendelsohn (Nolan Sorrento). The film is set in the year 2045 where most people spend their time in the virtual reality game OASIS. The game’s creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) has passed away, but not without issuing one final challenge to players—Anorak’s Quest. The challenge consists of finding three hidden keys within the game. The first to collect them all will inherit control of the game and plenty of riches.
The quest is so hard that most players give up trying to complete it, except for Gunters who dedicate their time to hunting for the “Easter eggs” to solve the puzzles. Wade Watts—and a group of friends called the High Five—race to solve the puzzles to prevent the malicious IOI corporation from gaining control of the game.
The performances from the talented cast are solid. Ben Mendelsohn and Mark Rylance in particular seemed to have a blast portraying their characters. Sheridan, Cooke, and Waithe deliver controlled performances with the material they were given.
One of my worries for the film was that it would be a cash grab for displaying different popular properties and brands. However, the abundant pop culture references in the film are sure to thrill, as they are done tastefully. What makes it all the more impressive is that they all serve a purpose. Even so, you do not have to be a fan of certain film and video game properties to have fun watching, because that is not the purpose of the film. Under Spielberg’s steady hand, the pop culture Easter eggs feel like a character on its own—a feat that is incredibly fun to watch.
The film carries itself with a brisk pace, and whenever the film shifts to The OASIS it can be truly spectacular. There are three major set pieces that are sure to dazzle. A race scene in the beginning demonstrates that Spielberg is still a master of framing motion and delivering thrills. Janusz Kaminski—frequent Spielberg collaborator and cinematographer—delivers smooth shots that allow you to feel the excitement on screen without any of the disorientation common in action blockbusters. The film’s score is boisterous and nostalgic, like classic films from the 80’s. The CGI is good considering the great amount of work that had to be done to animate the film. It is a technical marvel.
The film is rather different from the book it is based on, but it manages to keep its essence and message. It does lack some context for characters. It may result in a lack of empathy from moviegoers, as the characters’ motivations are either unclear or unconvincing. The film mishandles what should have been an extremely emotional event in Wade’s life. The tragic event happens abruptly, and the film skips to the next scene, as if nothing had happened.If it weren’t for the strong performances from the cast, and their ability to portray strong emotion in a few seconds, the character development could have been a serious pitfall. However, the mistake can be forgiven, because it is clear that the pace—one of the film’s strongest areas—would have suffered with a different plot structure.
The film explores an interesting topic—what if technology reaches a point where it makes actual human interaction diminish to the point of almost non-existence? It is not a faraway possibility. In fact, virtual reality is beginning to be mass produced, and it will not be long before MMO’s (massively multiplayer on-line games) will be accessible through them. What are the implications of such a thing, should it reach the realism of The OASIS? To run away from the human condition, it would result in people finding relief and shelter in places they shouldn’t. We are broken, and we need Christ.
The film does a wonderful job of showing that the consequences of sin reach us no matter where we try to find contentment. Sin’s consequences are far reaching. The creation of The OASIS itself reminds me of the Tower of Babel.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” —Genesis 11:4
Halliday creates The OASIS in an attempt to make a name for himself. He becomes idolized by people worldwide for escape from an Earth that is slowly descending into chaos. Additionally, Halliday uses The OASIS as a mechanism for dealing with regrets in his life. Proposed solutions like The OASIS are temporary, as Christians, we know that only Christ can free us from the bondage of sin.
Furthermore, we must be wary of any type of addictions, this includes entertainment mediums. We must spend our time wisely and make sure nothing has control over us, except our Lord.
This is part of why Spotlight on Entertainment exists, to help you make sound choices on what you focus your time, mind, and heart on. Together we can share the love and Gospel of Christ, so that a place like The OASIS is not needed, so people may have the hope of being with God in an eternal oasis.
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” —John 14:2
Violence: Heavy. There is violence throughout, although almost all of it is within The OASIS and is animated in nature—the exception being an explosion in the real world. There is a scene in which characters go inside the film “The Shining” by Stanley Kubrick. It features the iconic elevator scene with animated blood, and some frightening images of zombie-like creatures that are inappropriate for children. There is a brief instance in which Chucky the killer doll appears and kills some villainous game avatars.
Language/Profanity: With at least one f-word and twelve variations of “sh*t,” the film has a surprising amount of language, along with the Lord’s name taken in vain four times. “D*mn” (2), “h*ll” (7), “d*ck” (1), “do*chebag” (1), “assh*le” (1), “p*ss” (2), “a*s” (3), “assh*le” (1), and “b*lls” (1) complete the rest of the language. There is also an instance where an avatar gives the finger to Mechagodzilla.
Sex/Nudity: The sexual content of the film is moderate until the aforementioned “Shining” scene, in which a woman gets up from a bath naked. Nothing explicit is shown, but it is enough to be of concern to parents of children.
The cast, cinematography, score, set pieces, and CGI are fantastic. Where the film lacks in story, it makes up for in pace and adventure. The result is a film of high moviemaking quality. This is the way action-adventure films should be done from the master of the action-adventure genre himself—Steven Spielberg. The film’s language and a brief moment of implied nudity make it a film to not take young kids or young teenagers to watch. Mature Christians should make their decision prayerfully, considering any implications for their spiritual walk.