Every so often, I get in a particular shitty mood and have a hard time shaking myself out of it. There’s a lot of things that can bring it on, but I was feeling particularly shit the other day. I was prepared for another round of inescapable boredom when my buddy asked me if I wanted to go see Ready Player One? What’s this? Did my ears hear him correctly? For some reason, I thought it wasn’t coming out for another week or so, and was going to smack him for getting my hopes up when we checked the date and realized it did indeed release. Already my day was going better than expected, but what if the movie was shit?
Fear not, weary traveler, I can confirm it is not shit…at least subjectively…maybe you’ll fucking hate it I don’t know. Point being: I had a blast watching it, and was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. There’s a myriad of reasons for it, but I’ll list a few.
The effects are spectacular
It’s Steven Spielberg, right? You would expect the visuals to be up to par if not better, but this movie looked fucking fantastic. Some scenes are done better than others, but for the most part they are done well. The race at the beginning is one of the best sequences I’ve seen in a long time. Now, the book seemed to be bigger in scope, but I understand you only have so much room and money with a gigantic movie like this. If you haven’t read it, you won’t even notice, so stop complaining. One thing I was surprised by was how easy it was to get passed the CGI avatar characters. I thought it’d be a little jarring having to care about anime-like leet speak heroes, but I loved it. If anything, I cared more for them than I did the real-life characters. I won’t delve into what that says about me.
The references aren’t as subversive as the book
While I did enjoy the hell out of the book, there was one thing that kept annoying me: the endless god damn references to old shit. I even knew most of them, but dear god it was just an endless vomit of pop culture intertwined with a good story. The movie does a much better job. While there are numerous easter eggs and references, they are subdued to the background for the most part. The sequence with The Shining is probably the most extreme, but it was also amazing. That’s one of the first scary movies I ever watched and I had to stop watching it halfway through and finish it the next day with the lights on at noon. Most of the stuff they do end up extrapolating on is for a purpose, and it throws in a lot of tongue-in-cheek to soften the blow for the “normal” people watching. And of course the soundtrack is going to be pretty bitching when you get to have Depeche Mode, Twisted Sister, and Rush all in one movie.
It has a lot of heart
This may have been what impressed me the most. I was not expecting a lot of emotion out of it, but it really made me happy. It is a little weird that most of that feeling comes in the form of animated characters, but that just shows you how good the effects department was at translating the feelings of Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke (who is super cute). I don’t know if it was a conscious effort or not, but every character that appears in the game world and the real world did a better job of conveying emotion in the game world. Either they wanted you to believe in a world where no one knew how to interact socially outside of a virtual realm, or the actors did a better job with voice and motion capture than being in front of a camera. I choose to believe the former because that makes more sense in the universe. It even hints toward it with the creator of the Oasis and his inability to express himself in real life.
You should at least have fun
While I can almost guarantee you won’t read into as much as I did, you should at least be able to sit back and enjoy a fun ride through an interesting world. Like I said, I was feeling like absolute shit when I went to turn my brain off and watch a movie for a bit, but I was quite thoroughly pleased when I left my seat. And now I’m left to sit and wonder when Amazon will create that particular world so I can actually have that escape at my fingertips. Until then, you could do a lot worse than Ready Player One. I saw the new Pacific Rim and wanted to tear my own eyes out, but this one was just what I needed to get through another day. Maybe it’ll be good for you, too.