Ready Player One (2018) With RiffTrax Review

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Game Over Man.

Ready Player One (2018): 7 out of 10: directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 2018, is a science fiction adventure film based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel of the same name. Set in a dystopian future where people escape their bleak reality by immersing themselves in a virtual universe called the OASIS.

“Ready Player One” is set in the year 2045, where much of humanity lives in the slum-like conditions of Columbus, Ohio. The protagonist, Wade Watts (played by Tye Sheridan), known by his OASIS avatar name Parzival, embarks on a quest to find an Easter egg hidden within the OASIS by its late creator, James Halliday (played by Mark Rylance). The discovery of the Easter egg promises vast wealth and control over the OASIS itself.

Wade, along with his friends Samantha Cook (Art3mis), Aech (Lena Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao), and Daito (Win Morisaki), navigates through a series of challenges and non-Disney owned pop culture references that pay homage to various video games, movies, and other elements of 80s and 90s, which were Halliday’s obsessions. Along the way, they confront the antagonist, Nolan Sorrento (played by Ben Mendelsohn), the CEO of Innovative Online Industries (IOI), who seeks to seize control of the OASIS for profit.

The Good

The Good: “Ready Player One” is a visual treat for much of the film. There are cameos from everyone from King Kong to Hello Kitty to Chucky. The fantasy world is well realised visually and the action is easy to follow most times.

The acting also has some solid turns. The two call outs are Ben Mendelsohn playing a version of the villain role he does so well. (See “Rogue One” as another excellent example.) The bigger impact and surprise is Olivia Cooke, who is so good in this she makes me want to give “House of the Dragon” a try.

Olivia’s character had every opportunity to be a disaster and she not just pulls off the possibly thankless role. She outshines both her co-star and tons of special effects with her charisma shining through.

Other highlights include both Mechagodzilla and the Battletoads being featured. Hard to hate a movie that has Mechagodzilla fights The Iron Giant to the death while the Battletoads and Master Chief From Halo look on.

The Bad

The Bad: I like Tye Sheridan. I liked him in “Mud” with Matthew McConaughey and I liked him in “Joe” with Nicolas Cage. the fact he kind of played the exact same type of supporting character in both movies should have given the filmmakers pause.

Ty Sheridan is not awful in “Ready Player One” by any means. He is just out shown by his costars and everything else around him. He seems lost in both the real-world scenes and the Oasis scenes. He just seems a little lost.

Speaking of actors who seem a little lost. What the hell was Mark Rylance going for? Dude, Halliday is supposed to be socially awkward, maybe a touch of the Aspergers. You are playing him like he was on a very special episode of “Family Ties” where we learn about that one guy with Down’s Syndrome who bags groceries and stared too long at Mallory and she complained and got him fired.

Rylance spends most of the movie with his mouth open like a big mouthed bass. He went full “Tropic Thunder”.

The Ugly

The Ugly: If you did not tell me this was a Steven Spielberg directed movie, I would have had no idea. Now Steven has made some bad films in the past. (“A.I.” and “Crystal Skull”) and “Ready Player One” is certainly not at that level. As you can see from my score, I enjoyed myself.

I can’t help but think Steven phoned this one in a bit, though. Do a popular film for the studio so he can direct “West Side Story” or “The Fablemans”. Outside of a well-meaning tribute to Stanley Kubrick through a recreation of “The Shining” that was certainly not in the book, there seems to be little here that makes one think of his films or his talent.

Though Spielberg makes a very sly commentary on how it is necessary to change an original work to make it work on a film during “The Shining” bit. Considering the changes that were made to the book, I have to believe that this may have been Steven’s reaction to the original source material.

While “Ready Player One” was good about not focusing too much on cameos, to where some, like the “Spaceballs”‘ RV or Lara Croft, are almost impossible to catch without a guide. Ready Player One spent way too much time explaining certain plot points and trivia. To use an easy no spoiler example, the main character dresses his avatar as Buckaroo Banzai for a date. Just dress him that way so it gives people in the audience the thrill to recognize the outfit instead of mentioning it in both voice over and then have every character seem to dwell on it.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: I didn’t like my second viewing of “Ready Player One” as much as my first. The joy of seeing Batman or Jason Voorhees or The A-Team van lessens on repeated viewings. That said, I am impressed how much better the movie works than the novel. Between a fast-paced silly story and Olivia Cooke shining in her scenes, it is a watchable ride.

Ready Player One is like a ride at Universal and not just because there are no Disney properties on display either. But it is a good Universal ride, not that horrible Fast and Furious abomination they replaced Disaster! with.

RiffTrax Version of Ready Player One.

You know I cannot help but think that the moment Tye Sheridan’s mug appeared on screen there was the perfect opportunity for Bill to do a version of his reaction (Well Crow’s) to first seeing Nick Miller in Time Chasers This… is not our star, is it? I will not accept this as our star, sorry.” So I only found this partial quote and reached out to Google for the second line (Which is about seeing the movies manager and how this will not stand) instead the Google AI bot generated the following.

“This… is not our star, is it? I will not accept this as our star, sorry.”

The crow’s words are full of sorrow and anger. It is clear that the crow does not accept this new star as its own. Perhaps the crow has lost its home, or perhaps it is simply afraid of change. Whatever the reason, the crow’s words are a powerful expression of grief and loss.

The crow’s words are also a reminder of the importance of home. Home is more than just a place to live. It is a place where we feel safe and loved. It is a place where we belong. When we lose our home, we lose a part of ourselves.

The crow’s words are a reminder that we should all be grateful for our homes. We should cherish the places where we feel safe and loved. We should never take them for granted.

Okay, so we are officially down the rabbit hole. I have been listening to The Ready Player One Podcast called 372 Pages We Will never Get Back with Mike Nelson and Conor Lestoka and as a result I have to admit I expected a better riffing session.

Don’t get me wrong, what we have here it is not bad. There are some insightful jokes and comments (Such as Mike’s observation of the complete lack of Star Wars references allowed) and it had some good belly laughs. But this would not be the RiffTrax I would use to introduce people to the idea of “Only the Jokes”. And I really cannot see myself taking this riff out again for a spin.

All that said I had fun. I guess my expectations were heightened by the podcast and the juicy material and I was disappointed in the lack of running gags or truly memorable lines.

It is scenes like this one that threaten to make Ready Player One a much better miovie than it actually is.
Of course if I had actually seen Iron Giant as of the time of writing this review and were emotionally invested in the same it would have helped.
Please keep in mind this character is supposed to be ugly with a birth defect (Port Wine Stain)
Here is a better look at her hideous defect (Children may be advised to leave the room)
Give Spielberg some credit. He knows his audience.
Ready Player One really does a nice job with the Easter Eggs. Appreciate the A-Team van on the left.
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