Ready Player One
Runtime 140 minutes
Yuck! This film about virtual reality reminded me of the 2010 film Inception in which the characters invaded a person’s dream, a truly imbecilic idea, although it made a pretty good movie. In this one the characters all wear the virtual reality mask over their eyes and invade a make believe world.
The fiction is that they can communicate back and forth between the virtual world and the real world, which puts it akin to Inception. Let’s be specific. One player in this fictional world can meet another player in the fictional world, both avatars, and make contact in the real world. Since virtual reality is about the last thing that would interest me, I have no idea whether or not this could actually happen, so I won’t say that it seems idiotic to me.
When filmmakers try to predict what the world will be like in the future, they don’t have a very good track record of accuracy. In this one, director Steven Spielberg tries to picture the year 2045 as a dystopian one with mobile homes stacked one on top of another in high rises where people exist as a result of an energy crisis caused by global warming (what else? This is Spielberg after all; he can’t make a movie without forcing his jaundiced view of politics on the viewer). I can tell you and Steven what 2045 will undoubtedly look like; just look out the window. That’s 27 years from now. 27 years ago was 1991 and things looked then pretty much as they look now.
But this is a film for people who were raised in the 21st century and spend much of their time looking down at their phones instead of living life. One thing they do, apparently, is exist virtually. So they will be able to identify with this. Spielberg throws in a lot of references to movies and music and culture of the 1980s and that’s nice. The script (Zak Penn and Ernest Cline) has enough humor thrown in that people raised in the 20th Century will get.
The irrational story is that James Donovan Halliday (Mark Rylance, who is becoming a Spielberg regular, in the only memorable performance in the film), a shy genius, has created a game of a virtual world (OASIS) to which a lot of people escape when they can.
Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) and his corporation are trying to exploit the virtual world after Halliday dies. Halliday has bequeathed his immense fortune and total control of OASIS to the winner of a three-part contest he designed to find a worthy heir. Here come some teenagers led by Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) who endeavor to save their virtual world and keep it for their enjoyment both in the real world and as avatars. What is totally divorced from, well, reality, is the way the characters exist both as avatars in the virtual world and real people in the real world and communicate back and forth. It seems to be nonsense to me, but it’s a movie, and I have no idea what’s possible in the virtual world.
For me this failed the watch test miserably as I didn’t know if I would actually survive almost 2 ½ hours of watching all this gobbledygook. However, that said, it won’t surprise me if this makes a billion dollars; fortunately, none of the dollars will come from me.
If you want to know the truth, I was pretty proud of myself for sticking it out to the bitter end.