Watch Ready Player One (2018), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want to Know About a Great Movie
Ready Player One (2018)
When the creator of a virtual reality called the OASIS dies, he makes a posthumous challenge to all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune and control of his world.
- Steven Spielberg
- Zak Penn (screenplay by)
- Ernest Cline (screenplay by)
Ready Player One is a 2018 American science fiction action film based on Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name. Directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Zak Penn and Cline, it stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance. The film is set in 2045, where much of humanity uses the OASIS, a virtual reality simulation, to escape the real world.
A teenage orphan finds clues to a contest that promises the ownership of the OASIS to the winner, and he and his allies try to complete it before an evil corporation can do so.
Development of the film first began in 2010 when Warner Bros. acquired the rights to the book. In July 2015, Spielberg signed on to direct and produce the film, with casting commencing in September 2015. Filming began in England in June 2016 and was completed in September that year.
The visual effects were handled by Industrial Light & Magic, Digital Domain, and Territory Studio, with some pre-visualization work done by The Third Floor. As with the novel, many popular culture references appear throughout the film, including references to The Shining, the Back to the Future franchise, and The Iron Giant.
Ready Player One premiered at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas on March 11, 2018, and was theatrically released by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States on March 29, 2018. The film received mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised Spielberg’s direction, the visual effects, brisk pacing, and the performances of both Sheridan and Rylance.
It grossed around $583 million worldwide, and earned a nomination for Best Visual Effects at the 91st Academy Awards, 24th Critics’ Choice Awards, and 72nd British Academy Film Awards. Ready Player One was awarded the title of Best Science Fiction Film at the 45th Saturn Awards, and a further two Outstanding Achievement Awards from the Visual Effects Society. A sequel is in development.
Ready Player One (2018) Trailer
Ready Player One (2018) Reviews
So much of what constitutes the humor in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s best-selling novel is along the lines of: “Here’s a thing you know from your youth.” And: “Here’s another thing.” And: “Here’s an obscure thing that only an elite few of you will get, which will make you feel super-smart.”
The young man at its center is an obsessed gamer named Wade Watts who goes by the moniker Parzival in the massive virtual reality everyone inhabits in the movie’s dystopian future. But he’s very much a figure in the same driven, single-minded vein as Henry Thomas in “E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial,” Harrison Ford in the “Indiana Jones” films, Tom Cruise in “Minority Report” or Tom Hanks in “Catch Me If You Can.” The actor who plays Wade Watts, Tye Sheridan (“Mud,” “X-Men: Apocalypse”), even resembles a “Close Encounters”-era Richard Dreyfuss.
“Ready Player One” is at once familiar in its fabric and forward-thinking in its technology, with a combination of gritty live action and glossy CGI. It’s an ambitious mix that can be thrilling while it lasts, and yet it fails to linger for long afterward, leaving you wondering what its point is beyond validating the insularity of ravenous fandom.
The movie’s copious needle drops drag us deeper into the decade, from Van Halen’s “Jump” and Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to George Michael’s “Faith” and Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” At times, the selections can be painfully on the nose; the use of New Order’s “Blue Monday” to set the tone as we enter a large, laser-filled dance club is absolutely perfect, however.
Somewhere in the middle of all this retro mayhem (which Cline himself co-scripted with Zak Penn) is an actual story—which itself is a throwback to something that’s never specifically named. This is essentially “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” complete with a scrappy, crafty underdog attempting to solve a series of challenges posed by a whimsical, mystical genius in hopes of winning a grand prize at the end.
The year is 2045 and the place is Columbus, Ohio. Wade lives, as so many others do, in “The Stacks,” a densely populated cluster of cruddy trailers piled high atop each other and tied together by scaffolding. To escape their dreary lives, Wade and his neighbors strap on their headgear and enter the Oasis, a sprawling virtual reality where everyone spends the bulk of their time. Yes, they’re doing VR in their RVs.
“Ready Player One” would have been a far more compelling film with either of these characters at its center, but we’re stuck with Parzival as our bland yet brave conduit. Waithe has a swagger that’s hugely compelling; Cooke doesn’t get nearly as much of a character to work with here as she did in the gripping dark comedy “Thoroughbreds,” but at least Art3mis is Parzival’s equal in terms of her smarts and abilities, and she and isn’t simply relegated to being “the girl.”
They (and everyone else) are searching for the three hidden keys left behind by the late creator of the Oasis: the socially awkward, Steve Jobs-esque James Halliday (Mark Rylance, a much-needed source of quiet and humanity in this noisy, overwhelming world). These are literally the keys to the kingdom. Whoever finds them becomes the heir to his empire and the ruler of the Oasis.
No one has ever gotten close—not even Parzival, despite his encyclopedic knowledge of the minutiae of Halliday’s life and inspiration. Meanwhile, the greedy corporate villain Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn, chilling as always) has built a massive army of mercenaries to scour the Oasis for the keys so that he can exploit this realm for commercial gain. Which is totally evil, according to this behemoth studio blockbuster.
So much of “Ready Player One” consists of following these characters around as they jump from one challenge to the next, solving one problem before moving on to the next problem, with clues from the movies, music and video games Halliday loved. But this instinct leads to the film’s strongest sequence of all, which finds the characters’ avatars landing right smack in the middle of “The Shining.” I wouldn’t dream of giving away which elements of Stanley Kubrick’s film they explore—or which rooms of The Overlook Hotel.
But I will say it is the cleverest use of CGI within a live-action setting, and it upends our expectations of a pop-culture phenomenon rather than simply regurgitating something we know and love back to us. It comments on why “The Shining” matters while also giving us the opportunity to see it unexpectedly from a fresh perspective.
More of that kind of multi-layered approach could have elevated “Ready Player One” from a rollicking, name-dropping romp to a substantive tale with something to say about the influences that shape us during our youth and stick with us well into adulthood. Oh, and the answer to that John Hughes question? It’s Shermer High School, Shermer, Illinois, 60062.
Ready Player One brings back a little of the Old Spielberg Magic. No, this isn’t on the level of a Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a Raiders of the Lost Ark, or an E.T. Instead, it’s akin to Jurassic Park: a special effects-laden action/adventure movie based on a popular novel. While Ready Player One isn’t as groundbreaking as the director’s 1993 dino-fest, it’s no less as ambitious in terms of how it uses computer generated imagery. The popular term “eye candy” seems insufficient to describe what’s on offer here.
In fact, the movie is so strongly reliant on the visual element, it almost demands a big screen where the spectacle of the experience can make narrative weaknesses seem insignificant. Ready Player One is intended to be immersive and that kind of immersion that can’t be obtained outside an auditorium with a big screen and a top-notch sound system. Don’t wait for video; it will lose a lot on a TV or (god forbid) a tablet/phone.
The film postulates a future (2045, to be precise) where the grim realities of widespread poverty and overpopulation have made real life a condition to be endured. People are more interested in escaping than coping and all they need to get away are VR equipment and a connection to the game world of OASIS. In this massive online universe, the brainchild of co-creators James Halliday (Mark Rylance) and Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg), anything is possible. You can be whoever you want, do whatever you desire – as long as you can stay connected, that is.
The protagonist is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), whose OASIS avatar goes by the name of Parzival. Like many other hardcore gamers, he is a “Gunter” – one of several hundred “egg hunters” who are searching for the ultimate treasure OASIS has to offer – Halliday’s last Easter Egg, which will bequeath total control of the world to the one who finds it.
Wade is friendly with several other Gunters: his best friend Aech (Lena Waithe) and the brother duo of Sho (Philip Zhao) and Daito (Win Morisaki). He also encounters one of his idols: the wild and beautiful Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), who flirts with him until he confesses his love, then she shuts him out.
There are real-world implications to what happens in OASIS because Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the CEO of a corporation called i0i, wants control of the virtual universe so he can monetize it. To achieve this aim, his minions must be the first to discover Halliday’s Easter egg and he’s willing to lie, cheat, and steal. Inside OASIS, in addition to having a nasty avatar, he employs the services of i-R0k (T.J. Miller), a weapons dealer and bounty hunter. In the real world, he lets the steely-eyed F’Nale Zandor (Hannah John-Kamen) do his dirty work.
The film is a treasure trove of ‘70s and ‘80s pop culture references with more name-checks, cameo appearances, and Easter eggs than I could possible list here. Whole websites may be devoted to cataloguing references. Although Warner Brothers properties have the most prominence (King Kong, Mechagodzilla, Batman, Freddy Krueger, The Iron Giant, The Shining), Spielberg was able to license images from Star Trek, Alien, and Battlestar Galactica.
Back to the Future/all things Zemeckis get prominent placing (with composer Alan Silvestri pilfering a few notes from his 1985 score). Notably missing in action: Star Wars (although there is a mention of the Millennium Falcon), Marvel, Disney, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and – perhaps surprisingly – previous Spielberg outings (unless you count a T-Rex, which doesn’t necessarily have to be from Jurassic Park).
Video games remain a significant aspect of Ready Player One’s DNA but they aren’t as prominent as in the book. (Dungeons and Dragons has largely been cut out, excepting a call-out to Gary Gygax.) The movie takes liberties with the source material. Although it remains faithful to the core themes and ideas, many specifics have changed. Since novelist Ernest Cline is listed as a screenwriter, he was likely involved in the reworking.
One improvement over the book is tweaking the relationship between Wade and Samantha so there’s a real-life component. In the movie, although their first encounters are online, an in-the-flesh introduction occurs fairly early in the proceedings.
The romantic tension is enhanced by the chemistry evident between Sheridan and Cooke, and their companionability helps to mask various character deficiencies. These aren’t three-dimensional individuals; their backgrounds are sketchy at best. Their avatars of Parzival and Art3mis are better formed than their human counterparts.
Part of the problem with the busy action sequences, of which there are many (including races, chases, and a massive climactic battle), is the virtual nature of the material. In OASIS, if someone is killed, their character respawns (albeit without coins or equipment). The world that Parzival and Art3mis are fighting to save isn’t real. The only time there’s a heightened sense of urgency in Ready Player One is when danger threatens the characters outside of OASIS.
I liked the first half of Ready Player One better than the second one. During the first hour, there’s a sense of wonder and exploration. The interaction between Parzival and Art3mis is fun and flirty. Their Saturday Night Fever homage is a nostalgic blast. The first conversation they have in the real world gives Sheridan and Cooke an opportunity to show how well they work together.
The second half, however, is overwhelmed by special effects-saturated battles where the stakes seem disappointingly trivial (the fate of the game world). As this was going on, I couldn’t help but remember the pilot of the original Star Trek series (“The Cage”), which had a different take on the concept of virtual reality. The movie is confused about how it feels regarding the ethics of a technology that creates virtual societies at the expense of real-life ones.
Spielberg hasn’t had a bona fide escapist hit since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (which, despite its hefty box office intake, has not stood the test of time). Those who wonder whether he has lost his skills (or passion) for family-oriented fare (a fair concern after The Adventures of Tintin and The BFG) can breathe a sigh of relief.
Spielberg has invested massive creative capital into Ready Player One and the resulting production has all the ingredients viewers expect from potential blockbusters. Whether it achieves the level experienced by Spielberg’s biggest successes remains to be seen, but it is without a question one of the year’s most energetic, visually rewarding, and ultimately exhausting motion pictures.
- A movie review by James Berardinelli
Ready Player One (2018) Credits
Ready Player One (2018)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language.
Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts / Parzival
Olivia Cooke as Samantha Cook / Art3mis
Ben Mendelsohn as Nolan Sorrento
Simon Pegg as Ogden Morrow
Mark Rylance as James Donovan Halliday / Anorak
Hannah John-Kamen as F’Nale Zandor
T.J. Miller as i-R0k
Win Morisaki as Toshiro Yoshiaki / Daito
Philip Zhao as Akihide Karatsu / Shoto
Susan Lynch as Alice
Ralph Ineson as Rick
Kae Alexander as Reb
Lena Waithe as Aech
- Steven Spielberg
Writer (based on the novel by)
- Ernest Cline
- Zak Penn
- Ernest Cline
- Janusz Kaminski
- Sarah Broshar
- Michael Kahn
- Alan Silvestri
Ready Player One (2018) Plot
In a dystopian 2045, people seek to escape from reality through the virtual reality entertainment universe called the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), created by James Halliday and Ogden Morrow of Gregarious Games. After Halliday’s death, a pre-recorded message left by his avatar Anorak announces a game, granting ownership of the OASIS to the first to find the golden Easter egg within it, which gets locked behind a gate requiring three keys which players can obtain by accomplishing three challenges.
The contest has lured several “Gunters”, or egg hunters, and the interest of Nolan Sorrento, the CEO of Innovative Online Industries (IOI) who seeks to control the OASIS himself by inserting intrusive online advertising. IOI uses an army of indentured servants, and employees called “Sixers” to find the egg.
Teenage orphan Wade Watts’ avatar Parzival, an avid Gunter, participates in the first challenge, an unbeatable race, along with his best friend Aech, and Art3mis, a female avatar on whom Parzival has a crush. Parzival regularly visits Halliday’s Journals, a simulated archive of Halliday’s life and hobbies, run by the Curator. Wade receives the Copper Key from Anorak after he wins by driving backward, while Art3mis, Aech, and his friends Daito and Sho, all win the race afterward, later being collectively named the High-5 on the OASIS’ scoreboard.
Sorrento asks mercenary i-R0k to learn Wade’s true identity, intending to bribe him to win the contest on IOI’s behalf. Wade and Art3mis discover from the Journals that Halliday once dated Morrow’s wife Karen “Kira” Underwood. Wade and Art3mis visit the Distracted Globe night club to look for clues, where Wade confesses his love and true name to Art3mis. They survive an IOI raid in which Art3mis abandons Wade, explaining that her father died in debt to IOI. i-R0k, who was eavesdropping on their conversation, informs Sorrento of his findings.
Sorrento contacts Wade with his offer. When rejected, Sorrento attempts to dispose of Wade by bombing his home, killing his aunt Alice and her boyfriend Rick among others. Art3mis’ player Samantha Cook takes Wade in. Together, they realize the second challenge relates to Halliday’s regret of not pursuing a relationship with Kira. Along with Aech, Daito, and Sho, Parzival and Art3mis search for the recreation of the Overlook Hotel. Art3mis asks Kira to dance and wins the Jade Key.
Sorrento’s subordinate F’Nale Zandor storms the Gunters’ hideout, taking Samantha to an IOI Loyalty Center to pay off her father’s debt. Wade escapes with the help of the other High-5 users, Helen Harris (Aech), Toshiro (Daito), and Zhou (Sho) in Helen’s truck. Samantha escapes confinement after Aech and Parzival hack Sorrento’s OASIS rig.
The third challenge is found in Castle Anorak on Planet Doom, where players must guess Halliday’s favorite Atari 2600 game to earn the Crystal Key. i-R0k places a forcefield around the castle using the Orb of Osuvox, but Art3mis soon disables it. The High-5 lead an army of OASIS players against IOI’s forces. Parzival kills Samantha’s avatar, allowing her to flee IOI with the High-5 picking her up nearby. Parzival and Sorrento fight in the OASIS with Sorrento detonating the Cataclyst bomb, wiping out every avatar on Planet Doom including himself.
Parzival survives using an extra life coin given to him earlier by the Curator in a bet. He plays Adventure, winning the Crystal Key by locating Warren Robinett’s Easter egg. He uses the three keys to enter a treasure room, where Anorak offers him a contract to sign. Parzival recognizes it as the one Morrow signed when Halliday forced him out of Gregarious Games and refuses to sign it. Anorak transforms into Halliday, who expresses his regrets in life and awards Parzival the Easter egg.
Ogden Morrow appears, revealing that he is the Curator. Wade decides to run the OASIS with the High-5, inviting Morrow to join them as a consultant. After Aech sends the police a copy of Sorento confessing to the bombing, he and F’Nale are arrested. As the IOI Loyalty Centers are shut down, the High-5 make the controversial choice to close the OASIS every Tuesday and Thursday for people to spend more time in the real world, including Wade and Samantha, who start a relationship.
Ready Player One (2018) Box office
Ready Player One grossed $137.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $445.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $583 million. Deadline Hollywood estimated that the film needed to gross at least $440 million in order to break even.
In the United States and Canada, Ready Player One was projected to gross $40–50 million from 4,100 theaters over its first four days. It made $12.1 million on its first day, including $3.75 million from Wednesday night previews. It ended up grossing $41.8 million in its opening weekend (for a four-day total of $53.7 million). The film made $24.6 million in its second weekend, finishing second behind newcomer A Quiet Place, and $11.5 million in its third weekend, finishing in fourth.
Ready Player One (2018) Critical Response
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 72% with an average score of 6.8/10, based on 444 reviews. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Ready Player One is a sweetly nostalgic thrill ride that neatly encapsulates Spielberg’s strengths while adding another solidly engrossing adventure to his filmography.”
On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 64 out of 100 based on 56 critics, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A−” on an A+ to F scale, and those at PostTrak gave the film an 82% overall positive score and a 65% “definite recommend”.
In a review for RogerEbert.com, Brian Tallerico wrote that the film’s “overwhelming” nature and non-stop action will likely thrill fans of pop culture; while he observed narrative weaknesses, such as a lack of depth among the supporting characters, he felt that they ultimately do not hinder the film from working “on the level of technical, blockbuster mastery that Spielberg helped define”.
Writing for Variety, Owen Gleiberman called the film a “coruscating explosion of pop-culture eye candy” and found the sequence based on The Shining to be “irresistible”. However, he criticized Spielberg’s separation of fantasy and reality, and he said the film has “more activity than it does layers”.
IndieWire‘s Eric Kohn characterized the film as “an astonishing sci-fi spectacle and a relentless nostalgia trip at once” and praised both the sequence based on The Shining and Penn’s screenplay, particularly with respect to Mendelsohn’s character. Nevertheless, he remarked that the film “drags a bunch in its final third”.
Alissa Wilkinson, writing for Vox, praised both the quality and quantity of the worldbuilding. She also commented on just how dystopian the future portrayed is, where the main characters fight to save the OASIS and the escape from reality it represents, with arguably less concern for the problems of the real world.
Film and television critic Matt Zoller Seitz praised Ready Player One and noted the undercurrent of sadness present in the film, stating that “I don’t think Spielberg gets enough credit for making sad films that most people interpret as happy, and complex films that are immediately dismissed as simple or confused”.
Seitz concluded that the film “is a mess, but it is a fascinating and complex one…” In March 2019, a year after the film’s release, Seitz determined that with Ready Player One‘s images commenting on capitalism and popular culture, the film was the second-most “interesting [and] substantive” big-budgeted fantasy in 2018 after Black Panther, admitting that “I still think about [Ready Player One] a lot, especially concerning the world around me.”
Monica Castillo was more critical of the film in her review for The Guardian and drew attention to the absence of character arcs, the lack of resolution for plot holes in the novel, and the bloating of scenes in the film by trivia.
Alonso Duralde, writing for TheWrap, found the usage of pop culture references lacking, and found his experience watching the film as “feeling bombarded with images, bored by the lack of an interesting story, and irritated with my own cultural past. I’ve never been much of a video-game player, but by the finale, I was ready to ‘Leeroy Jenkins!’ my way out of the theater”.
Ready Player One (2018) Accolades
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result|
|Teen Choice Awards||August 12, 2018||Choice Sci-Fi Movie||Ready Player One||Nominated|
|Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actor||Tye Sheridan||Nominated|
|Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actress||Olivia Cooke||Nominated|
|Choice Breakout Movie Star||Nominated|
|Critics’ Choice Movie Awards||January 13, 2019||Best Visual Effects||Ready Player One||Nominated|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||February 5, 2019||Outstanding Visual Effects in a
|Roger Guyett, Jennifer Meislohn, Dave Shirk,
Matthew E. Butler, Neil Corbould
|Outstanding Animated Character
in a Photoreal Feature
|Dave Shirk, Brian Cantwell, Jung-Seung Hong and
Kim Ooi for “Art3mis”
|Outstanding Created Environment
in a Photoreal Feature
|Mert Yamak, Stanley Wong, Joana Garrido and
Daniel Gagiu for “Overlook Hotel”
|Outstanding Virtual Cinematography
in a Photoreal Project
|Daniele Bigi, Edmund Kolloen, Mathieu Vig and
Jean-Baptiste Noyau for “New York Race”
|Outstanding Model in a
Photoreal or Animated Project
|Giuseppe Laterza, Kim Lindqvist, Mauro Giacomazzo
and William Gallyo for “DeLorean DMC-12”
|Satellite Awards||February 17, 2019||Best Visual Effects||Ready Player One||Nominated|
|BAFTA Awards||February 10, 2019||Best Special Visual Effects||Matthew E. Butler, Grady Cofer, Roger Guyett,
|Academy Awards||February 24, 2019||Best Visual Effects||Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler and Dave Shirk||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||September 13, 2019||Best Science Fiction Film||Ready Player One||Won|
|Best Director||Steven Spielberg||Nominated|
|Best Music||Alan Silvestri||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects||Ready Player One||Nominated|
Ready Player One (2018) Movie Info
Rating:PG-13 (Language|Bloody Images|Partial Nudity|Sci-Fi Action Violence|Some Suggestive Material)
Genre:Sci-Fi, Adventure, Action, Fantasy
Producer:Steven Spielberg, Donald De Line, Dan Farah, Kristie Macosko Krieger
Writer:Ernest Cline, Zak Penn
Release Date (Theaters):Wide
Release Date (Streaming):
Box Office (Gross USA):$137.0M
Distributor:Warner Bros. Pictures
Sound Mix:Dolby Atmos, DTS, SDDS, Dolby Digital
Aspect Ratio:Scope (2.35:1)
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