Tay’s review published on Letterboxd:
the three feats of this film are, in order:
2—the visuals, and more specifically, the balance between mediums. i get it. there's some technically impressive shit happening, and it's happening in a big way. but visuals have never been enough to overcome a movie shortcomings for me, and this isn't the exception, even if there are some exceptional moments (the Iron Giant, for one, and almost the entire Shining sequence)
3—i didn't think it was possible, but by god, somehow, at last, we finally have a blander, blanker, and more boring protagonist in Wade/Parzival than The Great Gatsby's Nick Carraway
other than that... chance and coincidence do not make for an exciting movie. it makes for sloppy writing, though. there were so many things that happened without any sort of set-up, without any sort of plant and pay-off. the most egregious moment, in my opinion, is the literal climax—how are you really going to bank the crux of your movie on something that isn't hinted at whatsoever? if your audience is entirely blind to the thing that turns the tide, what else are they to do but breathe the briefest, laziest sigh of relief? deux ex machinas abound and plentiful and relentless.
on the other side, incessant inconvenience is also annoying and frustrating. if your characters aren't going to do anything to earn their boons, please don't also make them fight against every little possible obstacle imaginable. Inception establishes real, believable stakes at all of its levels, so when its characters are fighting on any plane of reality, it feels significant and threatening. here, though, it felt silly, and confusing, and again, lazy.
i feel that often in movies with multiple storylines, there's always one or two storylines to which i am more partial. in Ready Player One, every storyline was just as dull. Olivia Cooke really was the only breath of fresh air among the actors, but my god, if she wasn't dealing with just as shitty of a script as the rest of them. it's too early to call it now for sure, but i'll be surprised (and horrified) if a more shoehorned romance crops up in any other 2018 film. also really disappointed in how emotionless this all was? i was so uninvested in the narrative that i felt my awe wavering at the visuals early on, but this really was borderline clinical in nearly every dynamic, friendship, and relationship. maybe that had something to do with the fact that a friggin VOICEOVER, of all pedantic things, established not just the lay of the land, but also the entire "story." history was glossed over. character was quickly and hastily filled in. motivation was lost in translation, i think. this just didn't hit really any register with me at any point, unfortunately.
somehow Ready Player One feels like it has too much going on at any given moment, but if you look even an iota beyond the visuals, you're overwhelmed by bore and nostalgia. how can you do too much and it still not be enough? well, i mean... maybe start by looking at your script, which is the equivalent of a Hallmark greeting card, and not even necessarily a good or emotional one, but i mean, a really average Hallmark card. one that says something like, "It's your birthday!" on the front and inside is mostly blank, save for something repetitive and predictable like, "Happy birthday!" ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh