Ready Player One: more references than Wikipedia

This must be declared from the outset; this is likely the hardest review I have ever had to write. It’s not because of deep themes presented by the movie; rather the themes of Ready Player One are as deep as a puddle next to an Olympic pool. That’s to say, anything worthwhile in Ready Player One is the result of other sources. This is the hardest review I have ever written because I mentally gave up half-way through something I can barely call a movie. I went in normal and came out with a headache.

Ready Player One is an adaptation movie centered around people escaping their dystopic reality into the creatively named Virtual Reality space OASIS. A secret quest is found within the game, with the first person to complete the quest becoming the ruler of the VR world. Evil corporations want to rule the game, and so do adventuring players. This is fairly bland world building, but I’ll bite.

Our main character lives a double life, as do most citizens of this future dystopia. Wade, a.k.a. Parzival plays OASIS to escape the slum he lives in and takes interest in the secret quest. Over time, Wade’s party grows to five members that perform extremely well. They climb the leaderboards and gain the title the “High Five.” If you think I skipped a few events in that description, you’re not wrong. I would, however, contest their importance; as something else takes center stage.

The film, and the book it’s adapting suffer from Citation Syndrome (CS), a blight on modern comedy and drama productions. CS is characterized by overly using references from other sources, often to improve the popularity by riding the coattails of something already popular or well loved. Ready Player One is an interesting case study for CS, as the syndrome has prior cases. Yet, Ready Player One feels like the equivalent of Patient Zero.

I had thought about writing this review with nothing but random popular things without context, but I decided against it. As spitefully satisfying as that would be, I don’t want to support that lazy kind of writing and ‘creativity.’ This movie is little other than references. If you were in the camp that thought the same of Scott Pilgrim, you have not seen how deep this abyss can go.

Some of the references at least have context, however, minute it may be, but they are incredibly forced. The “How do you do fellow kids?” youngster from Scary Movie comes to mind. It’s seldom anything but shameful plugs for other, much better-liked series because the source material did the same; with the quantity amplified immensely for the film’s sake. Very rarely were you allowed a period of breathing room before the movie shoved your face into something you may have liked before. REMEMBER THIS?


The ‘original’ elements of this movie are not memorable in any form. Truly, I remember little of them. To say that these same elements are generic would be giving them compliments that the film studio has not earned. Ready Player One was directed by Steven Spielberg; the same director of films like jaws and E.T.. I would be stupid to think he could achieve the same quality from his prime, but Ready Player One just gives off the appearance that he just isn’t trying.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie this genuinely soulless, and I watch bad movies as a hobby. If you are a fan of anything, and I do mean anything, I recommend avoiding this movie and continuing to enjoy what you do. If you need to kill an hour and a half, you can find far, far better movies to watch instead; or anything else for that matter.

★☆☆☆☆ “Trash – A painful experience. Only masochists need apply.”

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Cody Poirier

Cody Poirier is an Entrepreneurship major, and is the Lifestyle section editor, business manager and a critic for the University Chronicle. He wastes his time so you don't have to.

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