Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg, T. J. Miller
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Sci-fi adventure directed by Steven Spielberg. Set in the near future, Ready Player One centers on young outcast Wade Owen Watts (Tye Sheridan), who escapes from his daily drudgery by logging onto an MMO game called the OASIS, created by one of Wade’s idols, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), a kid of the ’80s. When Halliday dies, he offers players his fortune as the prize in an Easter Egg hunt within the OASIS. Along with gamers from around the world, Wade joins the adventure, and quickly finds himself pitted against powerful corporate foes and other ruthless competitors, like Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), who will do anything in the OASIS, or the real world, to reach the treasure first.
Wade: I was born in 2027. After the Corn Syrup Droughts, after the Bandwidth Riots. After people stopped trying to fix problems and just tried to outlive them. My parents, they didn’t make it through those times, so I live here in Columbus, Ohio, with my Aunt Alice. In 2045, Columbus is the fastest-growing city on Earth. It’s where Halliday and Morrow started Gregarious Games. These days, reality is a bummer. Everyone is looking for a way to escape, and that’s why Halliday. That’s why he was such a hero to us. He showed us that we could go somewhere without going anywhere at all. You don’t need a destination when you’re running on an omnidirectional treadmill with quadraphonic, pressure-sensitive underlay. James Halliday saw the future. And then he built it. He gave us a place to go. A place called the OASIS.
Wade: This is the OASIS. It’s a place where the limits of reality are your own imagination. You can do anything, go anywhere. Like the vacation planet. Surf a 50-foot monster wave in Hawaii. You can ski down the pyramids. You can climb Mount Everest with Batman. Check out this place. It’s a casino the size of a planet. You can lose your money there. You can get married. You can get divorced. You can, you can go in there. People come to the OASIS for all the things they can do, but they stay because of all the things they can be. Tall, beautiful, scary, a different sex, a different species, live-action, cartoon. It’s all your call.
Wade: Yeah, that’s me. Well, that’s my avatar. At least, until I feel like changing it. Except for eating, sleeping, and bathroom breaks, whatever people want to do, they do it in the OASIS. And since everyone is here, this is where we meet each other. It’s where we make friends.
Wade: Planet Doom, the most dangerous place in the OASIS, and a pretty great place to pick up coin. Figures Aech would be there. Aech is my best friend in the OASIS. He’s my best friend, period. Even though I’ve never actually met him in the real world.
Wade: Since most people spend most of their time in the OASIS, losing your s**t means, well, losing your s**t.
Wade: A hidden key, a leap not taken. Retrace your steps, escape your past and the key will be yours at last.
Wade: What part of your past are you trying to escape, Halliday?
Halliday: In the form of my avatar, Anorak the All-Knowing, I created three keys. Three hidden challenges test for worthy traits revealing three hidden keys to three magic gates. And those with the skill to survive these straits will reach the end, where the prize awaits. Off you go, keys. The keys aren’t just laying around under a rock somewhere. I suppose you could say they’re invisible, hidden in a dark room that’s at the center of a maze that’s located somewhere up here.
Halliday: Players, are you ready.
Wade: [referring to Halliday] His favorite quote was from Superman. “Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story.”
Samantha: “Others can read the ingredients on the back of a chewing-gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.”
Halliday: [referring to Karen Underwood] She wanted to go dancing, so we watched a movie.
Aech: Z, you got to be more careful about who you meet in the OASIS.
Wade: Aech, Art3mis gets me. She’ll get my outfit. There’s just this connection. I mean, sometimes, we even…
Aech: Finish each other’s sentences?
Aech: We have that. Me and you.
Wade: Yeah, I know, but that’s because we’re best friends, dude.
Aech: She could be a dude, too, dude.
Wade: Come on.
Aech: I’m serious! She could actually be a three hundred pound dude who lives in his mama’s basement in suburban Detroit. And her name is Chuck. Think about that.
Samantha: Can you feel this?
Wade: Um, yeah.
Samantha: [to Wade] The contest has got to be about connecting with someone, connecting with the world.
Samantha: So we take it together?
Sorrento: Who is this Parzival and how the hell is he winning?
Samantha: Welcome to the rebellion, Wade.
Samantha: This isn’t just a game. I’m talking about actual life and death stuff.
Samantha: [to Wade] You don’t tell anyone who you are. You can’t use your real name.
Wade: I’m here talking to all of you know because your future’s being threatened.
Wade: I just came here to escape, but I found something much bigger than myself. I found my friends. I found love! And now people have lost their lives.
Wade: Ask yourself, are you willing to fight?
Sorrento: the OASIS is the world’s most important economic resource.
Sorrento: I mean it’s nothing less than a war for control of the future.
Sorrento: This is war. We’re controlling the future.
Wade: Like many of you I only came to escape, but I found something much bigger than just myself. Are you willing to fight?! Help us save the OASIS.
Wade: Save the OASIS.
Samantha: Save the world.
Samantha: [passing electricity through his avatar’s head] That’s better. I’ll wave to you from the finish line, McFly.
Aech: That went well.
Aech: I’ve never seen The Shining. Is it really scary?
Sho: I had to watch it through my fingers.
Sixer #1: It’s f***ing Chucky!
Halliday: I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I just didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid for all of my life. Right up until the day I knew my life was ending. Now, that, that was when I realized that, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place that you can get a decent meal. Because reality is real. You understand what I’m saying?
Wade: Yes. Yes, I do.
Wade: The High Five took over the OASIS, and the first thing we did was sign Ogden Morrow to a non-exclusive consultancy. The salary, per his demand, was twenty-five cents. One quarter. With his guidance, our second move was to ban any loyalty centers from accessing the OASIS. IOI had no choice. They shut them all down. The third thing we did wasn’t as popular. We closed the OASIS on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I know, it sounds like a weird move, but people need to spend more time in the real world. Because, like Halliday said, reality is the only thing that’s real.