Ready Player One

Ready Player One ★★

"It's not where you take things from, it's where you take them to" - Jean-Luc Godard (as quoted by Kanye West)

RPO is hollow like an easter egg.

I don't passionately dislike it, but there's nothing to connect with. It's like a 2hr cinematic equivalent of browsing mediocre internet fan art. You'll recognize some characters but its hardly that exciting.

Here's the thing - It doesn't actually care about games / movies. It shows you the most utterly superficial nods to other works but removed from the story and context that makes them noteworthy. Movies are extremely derivative by default, it's a permanent cornerstone of the art form. Every great film was made by taking ideas from elsewhere and warping it into something new - and obviously RPO borrows to an insane degree, but the transformative element is entirely absent. Ironically this film doesn't feel like it's building on other movies, it comes from a weird, sterile vacuum of consumerism. There's no meta-textuality, it doesn't even feel like a celebration.

In one scene we're shown that the evil greedy villain sucks because he's manipulating nerd culture for profit and doesn't actually care about all the 80's shit we're referencing - and I'm just baffled because that is exactly what the film itself is doing, this entire film exemplifies its own villain.

I genuinely don't think it does anything to capture any element of the films it references, and that includes the Shining bit. It's no more nostalgic than catching a glimpse of a poster or a name drop in a random conversation. It's not like this film is a rare treat. The world and especially films are genuinely quite 80's-obsessed irl and everything that can be rebooted has been.

Initially I thought this was a perfect example of a "just turn your brain off and enjoy it for what it is" movie, but as I think more about it I struggle to find anything you could connect with, on any level. It's left me with a distinct distaste that's only grown over time.

Other random thoughts:

-Suspension of disbelief went out the window when Daito was revealed to be Japanese irl and not just a LARPing American mall ninja.

-One day technology will be so advanced that we'll get to live in the past forever!!!

-Gotta love that they resurrected that neat trope of pretending a girl is ugly despite being played by a very conventionally beautiful actress. Way to add nothing to a character, but at least they didn't give her glasses to try and sell it.

-Every original character in the Oasis actually was ass-ugly, especially the main dude and his PS2 JRPG hair.

-Nobody tried driving backward? They have an army of disposable players and four years to experiment, yet nobody ever tried reversing? The writers have astronomically underestimated gamers. I'd love to show them "Rolling Rocks in 0.5 A presses" and watch their heads melt.

-Nerd culture is the product of a late capitalist conspiracy designed to infantilize the consumer as a means of non-aggressive control (and to make hella $$$).

I enjoyed the mild parallels between Halliday and Spielberg himself, but they didn't delve anywhere deep enough into that element to make it worthwhile & that's extra disappointing because I otherwise don't know why Speilberg of all people chose to direct this. Halliday's scenes were the only ones with any heart in them regardless.

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