If you have yet to see Ready Player One on the big screen, you should catch it fast before it is gone from theaters. However, it will also be a fantastic movie to watch at home in your home theater surround sound. This movie is an instant classic and has got to be one of the best movies released in 2018. (This review has spoilers!)
Ready Player One is directed by Steven Spielberg and is based on a novel by Ernest Cline. Ready Player One is set in 2045. Our not-so-distant future looks rather bleak with Columbus, Ohio being the fastest growing city in America. The Earth has been ravaged by overpopulation, pollution, corruption, and climate change and city centers look like high-rise slums with trailers stacked one on top of the other. The best way to escape this rough life and harsh reality is in the virtual reality world called the OASIS. Many people spend more time in the OASIS than they do in the real world. Players can amass coins and plenty of virtual things. While most players just spend time in the OASIS passing the time or escaping their mundane lives, a few players are Gunters, or Egg Hunters. The OASIS was created by the late tech genius James Halliday who hid keys to winning his fortune in the virtual reality world. He created a library filled with videos and stories from his life that are actual Easter Eggs and clues to finding the keys to the fortune.
The main character is 18 year old Wade Watts who lives in the stacks slum of Columbus with his aunt. He is the ultimate fanboy who idolizes James Halliday and is obsessed with finding the keys to his fortune. His avatar is Parzival and his virtual best friend is a huge orc-looking mechanic named Aech (sounds like the letter “H”). Using clues from Halliday’s library, Wade figures out how to get the first of three keys to the fortune. During the process, he befriends another well-known Gunter name Art3mis. After Aech, Art3mis and their other friends Daito and Shoto all follow Wade’s leave to also find the first key, the virtual friends become known as the “High Five”.
The actions of the High Five ignite the interest of IOI, the second largest corporation behind Halliday’s company. They symbolize typical corporate greed with their CEO filling the villain slot in the movie. The IOI corp has been trying to find the keys to Halliday’s fortune and have not had any luck despite forcing an army of people to work off their debt to them in the OASIS searching for the keys. IOI starts to come after Wade and his friends, even tracking him down in the real world. Being chased only fuels Wade’s fire to find the keys even faster. They end up finding each other in the real world so that they can work together in both worlds.
The “High Five” and especially Wade have an advantage over the IOI and all of their many resources because of how much time they have spent studying Halliday’s videos and how well they have come to know Halliday. Wade has memorized almost every aspect of Halliday’s life. Wade knows so much about Halliday’s life, he is able to win a bet with the curator of the virtual library that leads him to the quest for the second key. Many viewers will be horrified or possibly delighted to find that this quest requires surviving a recreation of the horror movie The Shining in the haunted Stanley Hotel. Wade makes it through and is awarded the second key. Meanwhile Sorrento’s head of security is chasing down the High Five and kidnaps Art3mis to make her work in their forced labor jails searching for clues to the keys.
As the climax of the movie comes to an exciting head, the battle for the third key takes place on Planet Doom in the OASIS. Sensing defeat and in a futile attempt to stop Wade, Sorrento activates the Catalcyst which zeroes out all players on Planet Doom. (Zeroing out means losing everything your avatar owns and removes your avatar from the OASIS.) However, Wade’s avatar gains an extra life, his reward for winning the bet with the library’s curator earlier. With Art3mis’ help, he realizes that the challenge for the final key is in the Atari room and he has to play an old video game called Adventure. He figures out that he doesn’t have to win the game, but has to find this classic game’s Easter egg. This is when Wade demonstrates to Halliday’s avatar that he understands him and can pass the final test of the OASIS. Before he is granted control of the OASIS, he is greeted by virtual James Halliday himself and he gets to talk to his idol.
Wade proclaims that he will be sharing control of the OASIS with the High Five. He and Samantha (Art3mis) are able to start their life together. The IOI is dismantled with Sorrento arrested. The High Five ban forced labor camps from operating within the OASIS and they also close down the OASIS twice a week so that people can spend more time with each other in the real world.
The movie is visually stunning and filled with characters from dozens of Steven Spielberg movies and pop culture icons and 80’s references. The action and special effects are spectacular and equally matched by the awesome 80’s soundtrack. You are sure to love escaping your reality for a couple hours when you watch Ready Player One.
About the Author:
Matt Thames is blogger and Brand Manager for Selby Acoustics, leading home theater accessories supplier in Australia.