Ready Player One

Mint in box

It's an EA wet dream ‑ no need to bother with game design, just skins.
Reported on 17th of June, 2018

I spent far too much time watching Ready Player One thinking of the making of Ready Player One. That’s not entirely true, since I’m aware how CGI works. You press a button and everything you want to appear…appears. There are no hoards of underpaid monitor drones slaving to the deadline.

Just dream it and it will come true…

No, as soon as the hotel from The Shining was CG’d in, I realized how in love with all the pop-cultural references the film was, then it hit me:

I spent far too much time watching Ready Player One thinking of the packaging of Ready Player One.

Ready Player One

6 April 2018 @ The Gaumont Opéra

-$1.00 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


I actually had high hopes for the film, the premise for which had been rendered clear (hah!) in my accidental viewing of the trailer: a world-wide videogame which contains an easter egg that gives you 500 billion dollars and control of the game.

It’s a great clean motivation, and to the film’s credit, one which is revealed in the first ten minutes. To the film’s discredit, this is revealed in clunky voice-over. Maybe that was to the film’s creditors. I can’t be sure.

From thereon, an utter mess. This is not unlike Tomb Raider, a film that doesn’t know the first thing about video games. But is in this case, a film about video games that doesn’t seem to know the first thing about video games.

This applies to both the film and the video game. In this case, and unlike any video game ever made, there are no rules or objectives to the video game with in the film. Rules are made to be abandoned: the stuff in the game costs real money…unless it doesn’t. If you die in the video game you lose all your in-game money…unless you don’t. After you find the first of three keys (which would be a video game thing, except)…then everyone else can find it.

And so on. In one example, the first Easter egg is found behind the starting line. This means…

…it’s a racing game. Ugh.

Leaving that to the side, this bit of faux-cleverness sabotages any danger, as well as the first reel and a half of the film. Besides the fact that any videogame in the last ten years has been scoured to raw skin in the first ten minutes of its release, it makes the goal a…’walking there’ scene. Exactly as exciting as it sounds. And Far Cry has the market cornered on those anyway.

In place of kill the baddies or jump the mushrooms, we are instead inundated by the joy of packaging, which sounds too much like fantasizing about popping bubble wrap. The film seems to think we’re interested in what they have managed to secure: the Iron Giant and Beetlejuice in the same movie? How did they even negotiate the ancillaries?????

And they’re right. I would watch the story of the deals being made, just not the film I saw. The film I saw was the guy in the dorm room (or, if you must, 1982_film_lover_252 on, listing off the stuff he totally like…likes.

Difference being that that guy is now 63, and it shows. The car from Back to the Future? Hey, I produced that. Gundam? Kids like whatever that is! It’s an EA wet dream – no need to bother with game design, just skins.

Stohrer makes these chocolate eggs that are almost painful to eat, and only once a year, and the rest of the year make no chocolate whatsoever. Must pay attention to Easter releases.

Among the various stories and napkin scribbles smooshed together, there’s a bit of potentially delicious chewable taffy in the idea that the poor escape to the world that has been provided for them. This is the heart of the story; run with it. The fantasy versus reality, the stacked trailer parks (which Mr. Spielberg turns into a visual/CG fetish), this theme is begging to be set free.

It’s bad enough that this potential film is ruined by the inclusion of the seventeen other films, it has the distinct misfortune of being ruined by itself. At one point, Mr. Tye Sheridan is chastised by Ms. Olivia Cooke because ‘You don’t live in the real world.’ Not the most insightful line, but so be it.

The obvious problem: he actually does live in the real world – no money, abusive step-dad, etc. This is the world’s easiest fix: make him rich and just fucking around in the virtual world. It gives him somewhere to go, as well as something to lose.

But wanting to hit every beat hits the characters back; in order to support multiple genres, they must be generic enough to fit with either the rebellion against the corporation subplot, or, later on, the incorporation as a corporation subplot. Not even a hint of a typeage will appear, just general pluckiness. The characters are virtually interchangeable. Oh, sorry, one of them is…black.

This makes it the multiplicitous story of nicer Citizen Kane (Mr. Mark Rylance) whose sled was a date, the virtual world being dangerous unless it isn’t, video games with no obstacles, rebellion and/or submission, evil corporations and class struggles, it’s an Easter egg wrapped in an Easter egg inside an Easter egg.

That happens at the end.

The Take

Potential for this film is off the roof. To be remade. Starring Mario.
Mr. Rylance is way above the material.
Total Profits
A birthmark on a beautiful woman? Well, she’d never be considered attractive. No wonder she’s traumatized.
His best friend is black, so he could never date her. Yuck!
If you say ‘You can climb Mount Everest with Batman’ don’t show you climbing Mount Everest with Batman. How do you not know this?
The act one climax? At a research library.
All the rest.
Total Losses


Thoughts on Ready Player One

  1. Sarah Sullivan says:

    Re: Loss #4: What do you have against research libraries? All major plot points should happen in libraries. In fact, wouldn’t it have been a better movie if it were about research librarians? But then again, “The Da Vinci Code” exists, so maybe not. Also they did a horrible job with “The Name of the Rose,” Christian Slater not withstanding. So maybe you are right and it is a loss. Never mind. Carry on.

  2. Scott Scott says:

    Normally, I would agree. But it being the future and all, this was a future research library, with a virtual butler telling you and showing you everything you wanted, without the common decency of a good negative image newspaper microfiche scene. Brave New World (remake with Guy Pierce) it ain’t!

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