'Ready Player One' - Movie Review

"Ready Player One" is set in 2045, in a world ravaged by overpopulation and environmental disasters. Most people spend most of their time in the virtual reality world "OASIS" rather than the real world. Our main character is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who goes by the name Parzival in OASIS. He's on an easter egg hunt that could be incredibly lucrative - but no one has cracked it in five years. There are others on the hunt, but the most threatening are "IOI," a well-funded technology company that has hundreds of researchers and thousands of disposable employees/gamers to throw at the problem. The amount of money involved in finding the easter egg means that the stakes are high - and extend outside the virtual world. I'm sure you can guess that neither I nor the movie would lay out the specifics of the easter egg hunt in such detail unless plot advances were going to be made. Wade falls for Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), another egg hunter. He and a couple other friends team up with her to finish the hunt and beat IOI.

The movie is loaded to the gills with pop culture references: according to Wikipedia: "... reviewers have identified well over a hundred references to films, television shows, music, toys, video games, anime and comics from [the 1970s through the 2010s]." The most obvious ones are Parzival's "Back to the Future" DeLorean, the "Iron Giant," "Chucky," and "The Shining," but I was happy to see a couple glimpses of Firefly-class spaceships. Surprisingly, Spielberg went out of his way to avoid referencing his own movies, although rights for those might have been easier to get ...

I felt they missed a couple references they could have made: the thousands of IOI minions are called "Sixers" ("because they have no name, just numbers") - but they run around the game with massive glowing characters on their helmets that look like "101" so they really should have been called Fivers. More importantly, they failed to include a post-credits easter egg - which strikes me as a major miss.

It was also interesting to see a certain amount of embedded hypocrisy: I've watched several Hollywood movies recently that are about fighting big evil corporations. This movie had a budget of $175,000,000 and was made by Warner Brothers - no irony or hypocrisy there ...

It's a hyperactive, absurd, and deeply flawed movie - but it's nevertheless fascinating and a very entertaining adventure. I enjoyed it despite its many flaws.

I'm intrigued by political correctness and the corollary "cultural appropriation." The movie makes sure that our five main gamers are culturally diverse (although the two primaries are white - three if you include the bad guy). Where this gets really interesting is the gamer "Daito," whose "real name" (in the movie) is "Toshiro." Both Japanese names, and the actor's name is Win Morasaki. That sounds awfully Japanese - or at least the last name does - and he does speak fluent Japanese ... but he was born in Myanmar and his birth name is Win Kyaw Htoo (that's a very Burmese name). So is he allowed to be Japanese? How long do you have to live in Japan to "be" Japanese? Or does he get a pass because he speaks the language? It's all so confusing.