Ready Player One

2018 / cinema

SF elements: VR games

Ready Player One

[Wade in VR headset]

Society has all but collapsed, but everyone is happy playing in the OASIS virtual reality. Wade [Tye Sheridan] has just got a full body suit, not just a headset, so is fully immersed as his avatar Parzival. The creator of the OASIS has left various puzzles and challenges: the first person to solve them and reach the end will inherit the OASIS itself. When Parzival solves the first puzzle, things stop being a game, as he suddenly finds that the sinister Corporation is after him, in VR and in reality. Wade and his VR friends are in a race against time, against the Corporation, who want to take control of the OASIS.

[Aech, Parzival, Art3mis in the OASIS]

This is the film of the book, and is good fast paced imaginative fun. On the technology side that is – provided you have a fair knowledge of 1980s computer games. The “human” plot is the standard boy meets girl, girl shows no interest in boy, girl is hiding a secret she thinks boy won’t like but boy doesn’t care now that he knows her, boy and girl (plus an underwritten team of sidekicks) save the world together.

[Aech, Parzival in VR]

Unlike some other VR plots, this has answers to some of the “trapped in VR” issues: so here there is a reason why Samantha [Olivia Cooke] can’t escape when trapped by the Corporation. For the most part, there aren’t any eXistenZ-like confusions about reality v. VR, because most of the OASIS is clearly an artificial environment; however there is a nice Inception-like scene tricking the Corporation boss. Although people know they are in no real danger in the OASIS, they have a good reason that they don’t want to “die”: they will then lose all the gaming “coin” they have accumulated. Maybe this greater “realism” here is due to the protagonists being teenagers rather than adults; teenagers are presumably more VR-savvy and need such questions addressed. Despite these pleasing aspects of plausibility, however, I remain to be convinced by people at the end walking around outside in the real world whilst fully immersed in their VR experiences. And I am puzzled by the economics of the real world. Even if everyone escapes to VR most of the time, presumably they still have to eat: where do they get the money for food? They all look fit and well-fed.

Worth watching for the visuals and action and semi-coherent plot. But don’t expect a lot of depth.

Rating: 3.5

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 29 March 2018