Ready Player One
5/5 MUST must see SEE
dir Steven Spielberg
scr Zak Penn, Ernest Cline
prd Donald De Line, Dan Farah, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Steven Spielberg
with Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg, TJ Miller, Hannah John-Kamen, Win Morisaki, Philip Zhao, Susan Lynch, Ralph Ineson
release US/UK 29.Mar.18
17/UK Warner 2h20
Ready Player One
All work and no play: Sheridan

cooke mendelsohn rylance
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Ready Player One Steven Spielberg shows just why he's the master with this jam-packed blockbuster, never letting the dizzying special effects distract from the people or action. This movie is a cross between a thrill ride and a particularly satisfying video game, and it's the compelling characters, deeper themes and coherent storytelling that make it unmissable.

In 2045 Ohio, Wade (Sheridan) spends most of his time, like everyone else, in the virtual universe Oasis, where he's known as Parzival. He and his pal Aech (Waithe) have spent five years trying to solve the challenge left by Oasis' late designer Halliday (Rylance) to win the three keys to the whole kingdom. Rival tech boss Sorrento (Mendelsohn) has hired an army of players, so is furious when Parzival grabs the first key. Parzival and Aech then team up with hot babe Art3mis (Cooke) and two ninjas (Morisaki and Zhao) to win it all.

Halliday's virtual world overflows with references to 1980s pop art, so the film is a treasure trove of images, music and character references. This means that watching the film on the big screen (Imax recommended) offers a fantastic level of detail that fans will be unpicking for years to come. But that's mere wallpaper, because Spielberg holds focus on the characters and the story, making even the most spiralling crazed action sequence unusually involving.

Sheridan is superb as a shy nerd discovers his voice. His internal journey is even more compelling than the bigger one he embarks on in the Oasis, and Sheridan also gives his avatar Parzival an inner life. The effects are so finely rendered that transitions between real and virtual worlds are seamless, never compromising the plot or people. So Cooke and Waite bring similar layers to their dual roles. Meanwhile, Miller is the scene-stealer as snarky henchman i-ROk. And Mendelsohn injects a bit of texture to his snarling baddie.

The quality of the effects here is so high that the film never feels as animated as it is. Characters have gravity and detail, situations have a proper sense of peril, and larger set-pieces never lose the audience even as they get increasingly spectacular. There's perhaps a bit too much explanatory voiceover required to set the scene, and also a few groan-inducingly cute touches. But this is a classic, old-style adventure movie knowingly revamped for the 21st century. And it's the kind of movie you need to see over and over again.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 19.Mar.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall