It is heart-breaking to be the only one giggling during The Shining segment. Sucks that you can’t choose who sits in the hall with you…
When yesteryear’s blockbuster making machine Steven Spielberg, decides to spearhead what looks like a cyberpunk on steroids, you pay attention. Because you don’t expect one of the world’s most well-known directors to undertake such a project. It might look like something radically different and unmarketable, but in Spielberg we trust.
It takes no time to get accustomed to the world of Columbus, Ohio in 2045. A far-fetched explanation is given for why everyone’s hooked on VR like its cocaine, but you can suspend disbelief for the time being. While the innovative use of VFX and 3D makes OASIS look radical, the overuse of exposition dulls it down. Spielberg, who has perhaps the most creative mind when it comes to messing around with visual effects, plays to his strengths constructing fast and exciting sequences. There’s too much going on at the same time but you’ll find yourself having fun, pointing out at the various references he’s scattered around. The supporting cast has the strongest performances, from Ben Mendelson’s ruthless but sometimes incompetent megalomaniac to the quiet powerhouse Toshiro (Win Morisaki). Surprisingly, TJ Miller’s i-R0k manages to be the stand-out. Witty, self-aware and a hilariously grounded personality ensure he’ll stay with you as you exit.
Because not much else will.
While the film’s strengths lie in its fantastic visuals, not much else about it works as well. Even Spielberg can’t evolve the classic premise of The-chosen-one-taking-on-the-tyrannical-corporation. It limits the scope of the leads, Wade (Tye Sheridan) and Samantha (Olivia Cooke), which isn’t their fault. The movie’s depiction of pop-culture references feels nothing more than an attempt to make the audience point them out. They shape the flow of the tale in no form, save for a few occasions.
It’s a visual treat to experience the full range of imagination of one of the most revered filmmakers of all times. Ready Player One might be one of the finest examples of technical creativity, if not story-telling.
Rating – 3/5