PLOT- In 2045 the world is consumed by extreme pollution and trash. It's a place where people have become complacent and would rather escape into a virtual world called the OASIS, than work towards solutions for their real-life problems.
Wade (Tye Sheridan) has lost his parents and he lives with his aunt and her abusive boyfriend. Wade seeks escape in the OASIS, which he explores under his avatar Parzival. Parzival has made friends in this virtual world, friends that he has never met in real life. The OASIS is a place where people can be whomever they want and live out fantasy lives.
James Haliday (Mark Rylance) is the creator of the OASIS. He's awkward and eccentric. After Holiday dies, it is announced that prior to his death, he organized a contest to find his successor. Haliday created three challenges within the OASIS and the first person who completes them, with be given control over the OASIS.
Initially, everyone is excited by the possibility to win control over the OASIS, but as years pass and no one can even figure out where the first challenge is hidden, many people give up. A small handful of people, including Parzival and his friends, keep trying. Also trying is Innovative Online Industries, who has amassed an army of employees who spend every waking moment trying to crack the puzzle.
When Parzival finds and beats the first challenge, he becomes an instant celebrity and a target for Innovative Online Industries, who are desperate to track him down in the real world. Can Parzival and his friends keep hidden long enough to figure out all three challenges?
LIKE- I did not read the book. Based on the reactions of my friends who did read the novel, I think if I had, I might not have enjoyed the film as much as I did. Dan and I saw an early morning screening during our Vegas vacation and it was an energetic, roller coaster ride to start our day. We both really enjoyed it.
The story world is imaginative. I loved the 80's pop culture references. I liked that Haliday is a Willy Wonka type of character, challenging his would-be successor to a rigorous puzzle with moral elements. My favorite scenes were in the OASIS library, where people can go and watch scenes from Haliday's life. It's here, by listening to what Haliday said, that Parzival realizes what he needs to do to win challenges. The idea of a virtual library of ones life is really cool.
My favorite challenge was the second one, where Parzival and friends, must navigate through the world of Stephen King's The Shining. It was very funny and unexpected.
I liked the dark element of having people forced into indentured servitude to work off their virtual debt that they owe to Innovative Online Industries. It worked well with the storyline of having Parzival's friend and love interest, Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) taken to work off the debt of her family. Art3mis, known as Samantha in the real world, is one of the toughest characters in the story and I liked that she didn't simply wait to be rescued. She's tough and smart. Playing on the joke that a person isn't usually what they seem to be online, Parzival's group of friends also include: Aech/Helen (Lena Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao), and Daito (Win Morisaki). Although they may be trying to portray something different with their avatars, as Innovative Online Industries begins to close in on them, they realize that they are just as tough and capable outside of the OASIS.
DISLIKE- I did not like the character of I-R0k (T.J. Miller), who is a henchman to antagonist, Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the head of Innovative Online Industries. I-R0k is simply an obnoxious character and has been given the worst dialogue in the film, with bad jokes that fall flat. He does not fit with the tone of the overall film. It's cringe-worthy. He's the Jar-Jar Binks of Ready Player One.
****SPOILER ALERT***I didn't think about this until days after, but the ending is very cynical. When Parzival wins the challenge and gets the keys to the OASIS, one of his decrees is that the OASIS is shut down twice a week, so that people will connect in real life. However, what good is two days when the earth seems to be irreparably damaged. Sure, the OASIS is a really cool place, but it's also very disturbing that in the story world, people have given up on real life. How does two days even make a dent? I was initially left with the feeling that the story had a positive ending, but the more I think about it, not much has changed. Innovative Online Industries got their comeuppance, but only baby steps have been with regard to the mindset of the greater population. 2045 remains bleak. In my opinion, Parzival and his friends, should have destroyed the OASIS.
RECOMMEND- Yes! Ready Player One is a fun film with a surprising story. We did not see it in 3-D, but I'm glad that we saw it in a cinema. It's the type of film that should be seen on the big screen and with the general vibe of seeing it in a crowded theater.