Ready Player One is a mess. The plot, characters, dialogue and pacing all lack any strong development or originality; suffering even at the hands of a master director. While this should clearly result in a bad film, Spielberg’s raw talent uncovers sparks of brilliance hidden in between the bland and the recycled; self-contained action sequences that are so thrilling and dynamic that I can’t help but still recommend it. Ready Player One is a mess but it’s still worth seeing.
Adapted from the best-selling novel, the film attempts to take the original and imaginative concepts of author Ernest Cline but streamline his stuffed story and heavy-handed dialogue for a much more cinematic experience. The works partially as Spielberg does succeed in creating breath-taking visuals and action, fully taking advantage of a cinematic world where literally anything Is possible. However, any breaks in these heart racing sequences, if even for a moment, grinds the film to a complete and unwanted halt. The characters of the film preach about slowing down and taking in the real world but the only advantage the cinema audience get is the realisation that nothing we are seeing on screen has any real depth or development. Ready Player One is to us what the Oasis is to them: a pretty distraction.
The excess of pop-culture references has been criticised as a distraction and it’s understandable given the lack of time put into more important aspects like making us actually care about the fate of the characters. However, when the thrilling sequences within the Oasis are all that really works in the film, the references become less a distraction and more fuel for the awesome fire of nerdom that flows throughout every scene. No one can deny having a smile on their face seeing iconic heroes and vehicles integrated into one cohesive narrative but it can be a conflicting experience. It’s unbelievable to see your deepest fanboy desires finally satisfied on the big screen yet it comes at the expense of Ready Player One being a film that in itself will never be held to the same cult status.
Ready Player One is a victim of its own success; when it is good it is incredible, a fact that makes the lulls in between so much more heart-breaking. Along with the underwritten characters and some face slap level dialogue, a film that could have been another legendary Spielberg blockbuster instead falls far short of the kind of movies its constantly referencing.