Movie Review: Ready Player One doesn’t reach full potential

Jack Gross, Movie Critic

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Score: 7/10               Worth It: For the most part


I never read Ernest Cline’s book Ready Player One, but I knew the basic premise, and when I heard Steven Spielberg (one of the greatest directors of the last 40 years) would be directing the film adaptation, I was pretty excited. I imagined a film with the scope and feel of a pop culture melting pot. A film that explores an exciting and immersive virtual reality world. Instead, I got a good film, but one that did not achieve my (uninformed) expectations. Ready Player One isn’t a bad film, it just could’ve been more.


This film set out to be a classic action adventure with a young hero. Moments were almost never grim, either fun, funny, or a combination of the two. Cool pop culture references seemed to come at bursts, rather than on a consistent bases. This lack of fluidity made the film seem at times it was forcing these small easter eggs.

Other than the main plot of this story, Ready Player One attempted to develop a romance of sorts between the two leads, and it just felt very cliché and drained some of the momentum that the movie had been gaining. It seemed any moment the main plot got somewhere exciting, Parzival had to mention how much he loved Art3mis. I understand that movies need to develop relationships between characters, but this felt forced in during moments of action or intensity.

Overall, this movie knew what it wanted to do. Certain aspects of the virtual reality (called Oasis) were disappointingly limited, but still had some great fanboy moments. If it hadn’t been for the inconvenient placing of the subplots (the romance between Parzival and Art3mis), I would have had no complaints for this section.


Most of the acting was forgettable, no one did a really bad or good job portraying their characters. The cast was filled with obscure actors and actresses that not many people would know by name. There were only two performances I feel I need to talk about:  Tye Sheridan as Parzival, and Ben Mendelsohn as Sorrento.

I feel as though casting Tye Sheridan as their lead was a big mistake. He had one of the most stale and unimpressive performances that I have seen out of a movie of this caliber in a long time. Sheridan seemed at times uninterested in the role, however I had no issues with his voice acting. At certain moments in the movie his lack of facial features really hurt the story, because it took me out of the film.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, although it’s a very common character type, Ben Mendelsohn as Sorrento was a very menacing villain. His objective was clear, and he made for a very thorough antagonist. With the cast being full of mediocre performances, his really stood out.


Ready Player One has a decent plot with entertaining twists and turns. Scenes occasionally drag, and really have no apparent reason for being in the film other than to add in pop culture references. Parzival was a one-dimensional naive protagonist, and his importance to the story hurt the film at times. Imagine all of Steven Spielberg’s characters under the age of 20 mashed into one person, and then you have Parzival. Other than his lack of character development, the film played their writing very safe. There were no crazy arcs, no redemptions, no reveals. The writing wasn’t bad, it just really didn’t do anything to impress me.


Because I had heard about the great complexity of the book, because I saw Spielberg’s name on it, and because the thought of some many pop culture references got me excited, my expectations were corrupted, and heightened to unrealistic heights. Was Ready Player One a fun movie with good visuals? Yes.Was it a deeply philosophical film with a deep look at the virtual reality world? No (or at least not as much as I wanted it to be). Ready Player One was a good film that any average moviegoer could enjoy, as long as their expectations are maintained and if they didn’t read the book.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email