Theatre & Reviews

Ready Player One Reviewed

Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Lena Waithe, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Ryland, TJ Miller

Director: Steven Spielberg

Celebrated Hollywood director Steven Spielberg once again shows his cinematic vision with an out-of-this-world escapade that explores virtual reality.

Spielberg, with the help of an amazing special effects team, takes viewers on a roller-coaster ride that is both bleak and fantastic. It pushes the envelope on all levels and introduces a slew of pop-culture moments that lift the spirit enormously. Fans of “Alien,” ” Saturday Night Fever” and the devil doll “Chucky” will appreciate the director’s sly sense of humour.

Based on the best-selling novel by Ernest Cline, who was involved in the screenplay with co-writer Zak Penn, “Ready Player One” is not only for the gaming generation. I appreciated the myriad facets of this production which strikes just the right balance between CGI and live action.

Set in 2045, the focus is on the city of Columbus, Ohio, described as the fastest growing city in America, where inhabitants leave the real world behind and get involved with an online virtual reality universe, the Oasis, that boggles the mind.

Here anything is possible and people can live their lives through a fantasy character’s skin – the avatar – leaving behind the drab existence being experienced by their physical bodies.

The artistic genius who created this world is a shy, eccentric character named James Halliday (Mark Ryland). When he died he left behind one last game for Oasis followers. Whoever can solve a series of clues and missions within the online world will inherit both his vast fortune and total control over what happens in the Oasis.

Many people are trying to find the solution to the many puzzles Halliday has created, including the devious head honcho of his former company, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). Sorrento has hired a team of gamers, hard-core geeks, to find the clues and solve the solutions. The clues are drawn from the inventor’s own life, a hermit-like individual who consumed comic books, movies and video games during his existence – not to mention his biographical trivia which is housed in a massive archive of digitally reassembled memories.

The key characters in this adventure are Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), whose avatar name is Parzival, and his best friend Aech, a mechanical whiz kid whose avatar is a giant black person made up of robot parts. Admiring his handy work is Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), an anime-styled young woman who rides a hotted-up motor cycle. They cross paths in the production’s first fiery set piece; gamers trying to solve the first challenge. A pair of Japanese players, Daito (Win Morisaki) and 11-year-old Shoto (Philip Zhao), join the team in their quest.

“Ready Player One” is a thrilling ride.

About the author

Peter Feldman

Peter has been a journalist and arts critic for almost 50 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He was one of only two South African journalists to be invited by Steven Spielberg to the Hook film junket in LA in 1991 where he interviewed the famous director as well as Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams. He attended the gala James Bond premiere in London in 1981 and did an iconic interview in a Rolls Royce with Roger Moore who played Bond. He spent a week touring England with Queen prior to their Sun City visit in 1983, interviewed a host of international stars on films sets in Hollywood and London and was the first local journalist to nail an interview with The Rolling Stones prior to their SA visit in 1995.
He is active in the freelance field and his work has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He has also worked on TV and radio (ChaiFM 101.9) in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He is a recent recipient of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz award in recognition for his long standing journalistic support for the arts. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. He coined the phrase "Local is Lekker" which he used in his columns in The Star Tonight and broadcast in the 70s on David Gresham's popular afternoon show on Springbok Radio.

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