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‘Ready Player One’ overuses culture references and downplays characters

April 12, 2018

 

“Ready Player One” – One out of Five Stars

 

IAN GONZALES

Staff Reporter | iqg001@latech.edu

 

On the surface, “Ready Player One” is a love letter to pop culture. The entire film is brimming with references to other cultural gems that we love so much.

 

Some references, such as “The Iron Giant” and “The Shining” take the spotlight; while others, such as “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Star Wars,” take a more subtle spot in the film. And that is not to mention the hundreds of cameos of characters. Beloved characters Sonic the Hedgehog, Doomguy, Commander Shepard and Samus Aran are all at one point present in the film.

 

Despite all the wonderful references to all of our favorite movies and video games, by removing the nostalgic tinted glasses, the film completely falls apart.

 

“Ready Player One” takes place in an alternate timeline where pop culture has seemingly not progressed since the 1980s. The year is 2045, and the entire world is absolutely addicted to the advanced VRChat clone known as the OASIS. The creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, dies and leaves behind a hidden Easter egg containing the rights to his company. The egg is locked behind three cryptic challenges.

 

At least that is what the film tells you. Five years later, our heroic protagonist, Wade Watts, must assemble a team of trusted friends and a forced romantic partner in order to discover the location of the Easter egg before the evil IOI corporation and its army of drones.

 

The film spends too much time trying to shove pop culture references in the audience’s face, it barely has time to establish any kind of emotional link. Because of this, you get certain scenes that are meant to convey relatable feelings but feel completely out of place because they appear without any sort of link.

 

There is no pay off. No sense of reward when the protagonist saves the day.

 

This overabundance of cameos and references also hold back the characters from growth. The writers prioritizes how many Easter eggs they can cram into a single frame, they neglect to write in any form of character development. As a result, the only way the plot can progress are through acts of God.

 

By the film’s climax, the writers overuse deus ex machina drains any feeling of satisfaction the audience might get when the good guys save the day. This also contributes to the lack of pay off already established by the films lack of emotional attachment.

 

When it comes down to it, the film is nothing more than a cinematic Easter egg hunt. And while it is satisfying seeing all of our favorite characters on screen, it does not excuse a poorly made film.

 

I find it hard to believe, in a world where the internet is able to track down a flagpole with no indications other than the sky behind it in only 38 hours, can not seem to solve Halliday’s simple trials in five years. What I do not find hard to believe is for Hollywood to throw out a mess of a film littered with fanservice and expect us to pay for it.

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