‘Ready Player One’ delivers on nostalgia but lacks character


Wade’s avatar, Parzival accepts a key from James Halliday image from imdb.com

“Ready Player One” feels like a celebration of pop culture as whole. It has some really cool visuals and most of the references to movies and games are fun, but it also lacks a good core. The story and characters should have carried this movie through all the flashy scenes and references. In execution, the opposite ends up happening.

Director Steven Spielberg does a good job of showing the contrast between the dystopian real-world and the flashy, bright virtual world called the OASIS. The OASIS is basically an immersive virtual world where you can play games, go to school and even go to work. Most of the movie’s scenes take place in the OASIS and it looks great, for the most part. A lot of the video game characters that are shown look fine, but original player avatars look weird. They don’t look like actual game characters and they don’t look like real people so they end up feeling out of place in the OASIS.

The main crux of the movie is “Anorak’s Quest” which is a game inside the OASIS that was left behind by James Halliday, the creator of OASIS. Whoever completes the quest will have ownership of the entire virtual world. The challenges involved in completing the quests are the highlight of the movie. They contain the most impressive scenes full of special effects and nods to movies like “Back to the Future” and “Akira.”

The main character Wade Watts is average. He’s not a bad character and he’s not a good character. He’s there, he’s an underdog, he exists. The supporting characters that help him through the quest are more interesting, especially Art3mis. Wade’s backstory as an orphan living in the slums is generic but it does make you want to root for guy. The downside is that he doesn’t really go through an arc as a character.

Seeing all the different video game characters interact with each other is fun and surreal. Cameos from these characters don’t add a lot to plot, but each one is good for a cheap pop of laughter and moments of “oh look it’s blank from blank, that’s pretty cool.”

“Ready Player One” is more flash than substance, but the flash is interesting and fun enough to make the movie watchable. I’d say that anyone who watches this would have to understand most of the references in order to get the most of out of their viewing. It’s entertaining on a basic level, but not much past that.

[Final Score: 3/5]

Ulises Duenas can be reached at [email protected] or @OrionUlisesD on Twitter.