Tom Zavertnik’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ready Player One. Directed by Steven Spielberg, tells the story of Wade Watts, a young boy who with a group of friends must save the virtual world Oasis from being controlled by bigger corporations.
When Spielberg first premiered this, he said that what he had created was a movie not a “film”. And I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Ready Player One is a pure popcorn blockbuster as I put it. A lot of fun action sequences (especially the “horror” part of the 2nd Act) and style but not a lot of substance.
The world of Ready Player One is an interesting one. A world where everyone takes part in working and playing in a virtual reality because of how “bad” reality has become by 2045. It just is disappointing to know that Ready Player One never embraces the reality of its world to its full extent. While The Oasis is interesting on its own right, I feel more emphasis on the real world (since it adheres to Spielberg’s grander message of the movie).
There isn’t much development for the characters besides Mark Rylance’s Halliday (which I think is the best and most intriguing character in the whole movie). Characters make a lot of dumb decisions, which leaves plot holes that I feel could have easily been fixed in the writing. Even the way exposition is given during the 1st Act was lazy, especially coming from the Spielberg himself (even if it kinda works).
The action and visuals are literally out of this world. The opening and closing scenes on a technical and visual standpoint are HUGE. So much is happening, that I wish I could see these moments from as many angles or shots as possible.
There are also hundreds of not thousands of references to other brands of pop culture. From referencing 80s music like Van Halen, Rush, Duran Duran, to Movies like Buckaroo Bonzai, Akira, Star Wars, Excalibur, Citizen Kane, to almost every video game ever, Ready Player One is filled to the brim with cues to other franchises or cult classics.
Ready Player One is Spielberg back at his roots of childlike wonder and awe (which I’d argue The BFG was but whatever) even if the story and world are a bit lackluster.