2045, the world is a bleak and impoverished place. Columbus, Ohio, one of the most populous cities in the world, is an overcrowded slum. Polluted, corrupt and ravaged by climate change, most of the world escapes reality through a MMOVR known as the OASIS. Within the virutal world, the player, or at least their avatar can do or be whatever they desire. In game quests and microtransactions fuel the game, giving it over a trillion dollars in value. The game was created by visionary James Halliday (Mark Rylance). Halliday passed away in 2040 but, left in his will that whoever finds the 3 keys of Anorak (Hallidays in game avatar), will become the sole owner of OASIS and effectively, the richest, most powerful person in the world. With the hunt for the egg on, Gunters (egg hunters) from throughout the world search to unlock the world’s richest prize.
5 years have passed since Halliday’s announcement, and nobody is closer to finding the key. Innovative Online Industries (IOI), the second largest company in the world; a manufacture of OASIS peripherals has amassed their own army of Gunters, known as Sixers for their 6 digit identifiers instead of names. The Sixers are indentured players to IOI who work long hours in Loyalty Centers, endlessly searching for the keys.
Ready Player One follows 18 year old Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), known in game as Parzival. He lives in a slum suburb of Columbus, with his aunt and her loser boyfriend known as The Stacks. A place where people live in camper trailers that are rigged to be stacked on top of each other. Wade is a Gunter, who is something of a Halliday historian. IOI has discovered the location of the first quest, leading to the first key. A harrowing race, reminiscent of TrackMania, that has yet produced a winner. Whoever completes the race will have a major advantage in the hunt for the egg. As the saying goes “First to the key, First to the egg” and thus control of the world.
Ready Player One is a non-stop thrill ride of visual splendor. The TrackMania inspired race is a breathtaking experience, and something that could be considered groundbreaking with regards to visual effects. The blend of live action and cgi is a dizzying yet, satisfying experience that raises the bar for visual effects to an unprecedented height.
However, everything that Ready Player One does well; it manages to counter with a major disappointment. The film sets you down in this depressing landscape with little explanation. Also, with the film set in the not too distant future, it’s hard to believe that the world would regress so quickly without explanation. However, the biggest problem is the villain. Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelshon) isn’t the cutthroat CEO billionaire I expect him to be. Sorrento wasn’t the impassible obstacle, he needed to be to challenge out hero. Instead, he was merely an inconvenience, adding little to the story.
Overall, ready Player One is a fun romp through through the virtual memory lane. However, as beautiful as it is, I just didn’t care about the plight of our hero. Logistical inconsistencies ruined my immersion, but doesn’t change the fact that this is a truly beautiful film.
Rated: PG-13 @ 140 minutes.
NOTE: In 3D & IMAX 3D where available