4. Terrible characters
Ready Player One really suffers from its lack of interesting characters. None of the characters are given much of a backstory and none of the characters are developed from when we first meet them. With a lack of character arcs, they all feel very stereotypical and one dimensional.
The more interesting aspects of Wade’s life, such as his home and family circumstances, are skimmed over in favour of concentrating on his adventures in the OASIS and his relationship with Samantha.
The problem with this is that instead of being the sympathetic character that we are supposed to root for to win, he just becomes another stereotypical teenage boy who only cares about gaming and girls. Why should Wade win over the millions of others who are hunting for the egg? Why should we want him to?
And after Wade’s reaction to his Aunt’s death and the destruction of the stacks, or rather lack of a reaction, what are we supposed to like about him? There is not really much to Wade and a lacklustre performance from Tye Sheridan doesn’t help.
Samantha’s wisecracking and kick ass avatar starts off as a potentially interesting character. Wade wants the egg to win the fortune whereas Samantha wants to prevent the OASIS falling into the hands of IOI, who also caused her father’s death.
With these honourable intentions guiding her actions, surely she is someone to root for right? But these aspects are never really explored properly and just stay on the surface. As the film goes on, you almost forget that’s why she was competing in the first place.
The same can be said for the other supporting characters. Each character only serves to act as another avatar to accompany Wade for the final battle. Really they have no other purpose. And if you were asked to describe any of the other gamers, what would you be able to say about them?
5. There is nothing that defines it as a Spielberg film
Steven Spielberg is one of the most famous and popular film directors in the world with a career spanning over forty years. In this time, Spielberg has become well known for certain stylistic and thematic approaches in his work.
With these certain elements, an audience can recognise that they are watching a Spielberg film without even thinking about it. These elements are also another reason that Spielberg’s films stand the test of time and become so entrenched as some of our favourite film experiences.
Examples of some of these trademarks would be things such as his use of streams of light, shooting stars and reflection shots. Thematically, he often depicts troubled father son relationships and the supernatural amongst the normal. A Spielberg film also usually includes a sweeping score from John Williams.
Ready Player One doesn’t really make proper use of any of Spielberg’s usual trademarks. There are no stand out shots that feel like classic Spielberg, the themes are generic, and the music is by Alan Silvestri not John Williams.
With such a well-known, well-loved, and respected director at its helm, it seems a shame that Ready Player One didn’t utilise this. In years to come, will film lovers look back at Ready Player One as an iconic film? Probably not.
6. It uses our nostalgia against us
Ready Player One has definitely got its fans and it has certainly found an appreciative audience. When you ask filmgoers why they enjoyed Ready Player One so much though, the answer is predominantly the same – “the pop culture references,” “the nostalgia,” “all the Easter eggs.” Fair enough, but everyone knows that too many Easter eggs can make you sick.
Yes the pop culture references are enjoyable and the Easter eggs are fun to try and spot. But you need more than just that to make a great film. When these elements are used to the impairment of the narrative, story, and the characters then they stop being such a good thing.
Ready Player One does the audience a disservice by using our weakness for nostalgia as the film’s biggest pull. The nostalgia should be an added element not the basis for the film’s main appeal.
7. The ending is awful
So you made it through the dizzying visuals, rampant CGI, and weak plot. And now with the big battle out of the way, it’s time to wrap things up. So just to quickly recap – Wade won the Easter egg and decided to split ownership of the OASIS between him and his friends. He and Samantha are together and everyone seems happy. Wade has also decided that the OASIS will be turned off for two days a week. Looks like everything is wrapped up pretty well….
Actually hold on for a second. Doesn’t Wade live in a world where everything is basically run through the OASIS? So surely turning it off for two days a week will have a catastrophic effect on the economy and given that Ready Player One is already set in a future dystopian world where resources are scarce – wouldn’t this cause a hell of a lot of problems?!
Not only that, but the impression given is that the OASIS is being turned off for two days a week in order to let people spend time in the real world. Again, is this not the world that everyone is trying to escape from? The whole point of the OASIS is that it is an escape from the grim reality of day to day life. It just doesn’t quite add up, and seems like a cop out – a bone thrown to the audience to give a happy, family friendly message.
It could also be pointed out that the audience isn’t given any insight into what any of the other characters end up doing, but since they are pretty pointless and one dimensional in the first place – no one probably cares anyway.
Author Bio: Cara McWilliam-Richardson is a writer with a passion for films and filmmaking. She has written several screenplays, and is currently working on her first novel. Her favourite genre to write is fantasy and science fiction.