Brett (Artpig)’s review published on Letterboxd:
If you were to tell me at the age of 13 this movie would be a thing, I would have lost my mind. Actually, at the age of 20 I kinda did too I'm not gonna lie.
You see, I went through a lonely patch around Jr. High and wasn't really able to connect with people for sometime. This is when I kinda resorted to movies to get lost in. I wanted to become an animator but I decided to branch off and watch other movies. Two I picked up were E.T. and The Muppet Movie- and those two films kinda sealed my absolute obsession with movies. I then discovered classics like Back to the Future and Star Wars, which I had watched as a kid but never truly appreciated until then, and also discovered all time favorites like Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Arc. I saw in those times that I loved movies, I loved the way they made me feel and escape into worlds beyond our own, cruddy one that's just hateful. I wanted to make movies, I wanted to be lost in worlds like the ones I got to escape through when I was young. When I heard about the book Ready Player One, I got really excited to read it because it kinda felt like it was written for me. I really did enjoy it and felt like it kinda spoke to me directly. I'll defend it more later in the review, but, I think everyone who dismisses that book for its corniness is kinda missing the main point.
Anyways, when I heard about the live action film adaption of the book helmed by the man who brought us pop culture as we know it, it was hard to not be hyped to see so many childhood fantasies come to life.
This movie is kinda an absolute blast.
Kinda like its source material, its able to deconstruct and mess with exactly what it is towards the end of the book.
I think what a lot of people forget when watching this movie or reading the book is the point that these main characters are kids. Okay, maybe teenagers at this point but they act like kids, and that's well, because they barley had any actual human interaction outside of the OASIS world they belong in. The book is dopey and cheesy, but, it's a heck of a lot of fun, self aware, heartfelt and actually means something and says stuff about gender politics in the 21st century and the actual deconstruction of net neutrality.
In the film adaption, a lot of the depth has to be chopped for time (its already a 2h 20 min movie with everything put into it) so unfortunately deeper and more resonate themes brought up in the books third act aren't quite as explored as they could have been. This story could have gone to so many more surreal and scary places if it really wanted to and they kinda play it safe for just shouting out cute little references.
I was afraid the references here would get Big Bang Theory levels of just shouting out something familiar to win "street cred" with the nerdy crowd but the film handles it pretty well. For the most part- it's mostly just the characters having fun with the stuff they have in this world and bringing to life what they can in this world. You betcha I would make myself a Delorean if I could in an alternative reality.
I think maybe a reason I connected and resonated more with this story originally then most is that I really do relate to Wade a bit. His awkwardness and the way he just kinda shouts out movie quotes because he has a hard time getting people, and see him slowly grow to him getting the girl of his dreams because of his confidence in what he loves was something that honestly gave me hope in my lonely times- and they do get that element of the film right. I got chills at the end of this movie, I'm not gonna lie.
I do really like all the characters here. I still love what they do with his best friend, I won't spoil it but man its such a great twist on expectations and it kinda shows the power of the OASIS and how you can't judge people just based on the way they look or act. Art3mis is a great character too, Olivia Cooke steals this movie and I really hope she gets more roles after this and Thoroughbreds, she's a rising star.
The action sequences are just unbelievable. David Elrich said it was the Super Smash Bros of movies and I can't think of another way to explain it. If you were to to tell me as a 13 year old nerdy kid who watched classics like Jurassic Park and Back to the Future on repeat that there would be a film where a Deloreon drove away from a giant dinosaur, I would have peed myself, and I might just have in the theatre too. It was just amazing to see all the icons come to life like this, I just had a blast. It's like someone else knew why these things mean so much to me. Is it a it pandering? Sure. I can't say I didn't eat it up though.
There's an entire sequence that takes place in a certain horror movie that had a huge impact in my life and to see the characters respond to that world on the big screen put the absolute biggest smile on my face. Easily the biggest highlight of the film and I kinda just wanna film where they jump into different movies like Timmy Jimmy Power Hour-
So is this a flawless masterpiece? Unfortunately no.
The film takes a long time to get going. The narration of this film explains wayy too much instead of actually showing it. This film has some super innovative and really unique storytelling ideas and transitions and edits throughout and they were all bogged down by awful and really obvious exposition that was painfully obvious.
Some of the dialogue is kinda groan worthy as well. I like the cornball campiness of most of this film, it kinda is in vein of The Goonies or Gremlins and I dig that. Then there are just lines trying to be funny that fall in a dud. Especially the henchman of the main villain- oh my gosh everything that came out of that dudes mouth can be burned in a fire for all I care- it never worked once. One particular line about Santa Clause and ho's. You'll know what it is when you get there but why did that have to be a thing?
Overall, while this movie might take a while to get going because of some obvious exposition and some cringe lines here and there- I still pretty much loved it. It was genuinely one of the funnest times I've had in the movies for a very long time. It's campy, goofy, kinda heartfelt, enjoyable and completely watchable fluff.
For 2 and a half hours, I was a kid again, and its really hard to not love something that is able to do that.