By John Liu
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Children were not the only ones hunting for Easter eggs last weekend. Adults were also looking for Easter eggs in the Oasis.
Ready Player One, a novel written by Ernest Cline in 2011, was released on Easter weekend. The story centers around the Oasis, which is a virtual world created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) for humanity to escape the everyday problems of reality. After Halliday passes away, he delivers a message to all the Oasis players about three hidden challenges. The reward for solving all the challenges is the best Easter egg of them all — heir to the Halliday fortune and ownership of the Oasis. An Easter egg is defined as a hidden feature or trivia that is unlocked after fulfilling a secret requirement. In the Oasis, that would be completing the challenges. To the audience watching, every single pop culture reference is considered an Easter egg, and there are many!
Wayne Watts, aka Parzival (Tye Sheridan), teams up with other Easter egg hunters — Aech (Lena Waithe) and Art3mis (Olivia Cooke). Their team is complemented by the samurai, Daito, and ninja, Sho. Daito is played by Win Morisaki, the lead vocalist for the J-pop boy band PrizmaX. Newcomer Philip Zhao provides funny dialogue as Sho. Let’s not forget our evil corporate empire, IOI (Innovative Online Industries), who wants to gain control of the Oasis for its bottom line. IOI has spared no expense in hiring the best minds to solve the Oasis challenges and soldiers to keep everyone else away.
I never read the novel, but after reading a few posts on Reddit, I learned that some references were changed to improve the entertainment value of the movie. Some obscure video games and movies were changed to something more relevant to today’s movie-watching demographic. There are so many pop culture references in this movie, you would have to watch it multiple times to catch most of them. The director, Steven Spielberg, receives major props for being able to acquire hundreds of intellectual property rights to all the featured cameos. Just some of the iconic Asian characters found in this movie are Speed Racer, Street Fighter 2 characters, and many more. I don’t want to spoil it, but I was smiling at every new cameo that popped on screen.
Playing in the Oasis was much like PC Game Diablo 3’s Hardcore mode, where dying in the game meant you lost everything. For example, if someone spends 10 years leveling a character and suddenly dies, that’s like losing 10 years of your life. It really messes someone up mentally …. not that I would know!
We get to witness some examples of this near the beginning of the movie. Of course, when it does happen in the movie, people just shrug it off. The movie only had a PG-13 rating, so I suspect there could not be anything too dark.
The plot is nothing to write home about. In fact, it is pretty generic. There is a romance trope, which I wish was not in the movie. Real life interactions between our protagonists feel rushed. I suspect there is difficulty going back and forth between the Oasis and real life without making the runtime too long. The ending message is not what I expected. That’s as much as I can say without revealing any spoilers.
Ready Player One grossed over $53 million during Easter weekend and over $128 million internationally. If you love pop culture from the 1980s to 2010, I highly recommend seeing Ready Player One. My friend saw it three times and each time, he said he noticed something different. All premium formats are nothing short of exceptional, and I highly recommend watching the movie in 3D.
I also expect the 4DX to be very immersive given all the CGI in the Oasis. Regardless of which format you pick, just do yourself a favor and watch Ready Player One!
John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.