Ready Player One (2018)
Film and Plot Synopsis
Ready Player One is set in 2045. The world is on the brink of chaos and collapse. However, humanity has found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday. When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. An unlikely young hero named Wade Watts joins the contest and finds himself in a reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.
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‘Ready Player One’ Movie Summary
After Halliday dies, his avatar, Anorak the All-Knowing, announces a final challenge via a pre-recorded message. The first person to find the golden Easter egg he’s hidden in the OASIS will win ownership of it. To get to the egg, a person must find the three keys which unlock a gate holding it. To obtain a key, a person must win a specific challenge Halliday has already created.
The contest lures many people called Gunters (egg hunters) who hope find the egg so they can be set for life financially. Elsewhere, a man named Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) is the CEO of Innovative Online Industries (IOI). He’s out to get the egg first so that his company can take control of the OASIS and radically commercialize the simulation. The IOI has an army of indentured servants and employees called Sixers they use to find the egg.
In Columbus, Ohio, a teenaged orphan named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) lives in a place called The Stacks on the outskirts of town—basically a shanty village of mobile homes stacked on one another to form a mini high rise. Watts is an expert on James Halliday’s life and he’s dedicated his meager existence in winning the contest which is now in its fifth year.
Using his avatar he’s named Parzival, he participates in the first challenge, which nobody has been able to complete yet. Also in the contest are his friends Aech (Lena Waithe), Daito (Win Morisaki) and Sho (Philip Zhao).
As the race is about to start, a female avatar named Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), whom Parzival has a crush on, rides up on a motorcycle next to him. Parzival winds up way ahead of Art3mis and almost finishes the race, but a giant King Kong blocks him. Knowing that the ape will stop Art3mis too (and most likely kill her avatar, causing her to lose everything in the OASIS and start anew) Parzival rescues her.
After the race, Parzival visits Halliday’s online journals. They are a simulated archive of Halliday’s life, hobbies, and dreams maintained by the Curator (Simon Pegg). After watching one of the videos, Wade gets an idea. At the start of the next race, he decides to put the pedal to the metal in reverse. He wins the race and takes the first key made of copper. Once he figures it out, he tells Art3mis and Aech the secret. Aech tells Daito and Daito tells Sho. This earns them the High-5 spots on the OASIS scoreboard.
Meanwhile, Sorrento isn’t sitting on his ass doing nothing. He goes into the OASIS to hire a mercenary named i-R0k (T.J. Miller) to learn Parzival’s true identity so he may bribe him to win the contest on IOI’s behalf.
For the second key, Wade and Art3mis discover from the Journals that Halliday once dated Morrow’s wife Karen “Kira” Underwood (Perdita Weeks). This leads Wade and Art3mis to an OASIS nightclub called Distracted Globe. While they look for clues, Wade confesses his love for Art3mis and tells her his real name—which you should never do—while i-R0k spies on them from a nearby booth.
Suddenly the IOI raids the club forcing Art3mis to abandon Wade, but not before telling him her father died in debt to IOI. i-R0k informs Sorrento of Parzival’s true identity and Sorrento quickly makes contact with Wade to offer him more money than he could ever imagine. Wade, still smarting from Art3mis’ last words to him, rejects Sorrento’s offer.
Not one to take no for an answer, Sorrento has the IOI blow up his Stack in hopes of ridding himself of Wade. However, Wade spends all his time in a hidden van near his home. The explosion winds up killing his aunt Alice (Susan Lynch); her abusive boyfriend, Rick (Ralph Ineson), and the other tenants of the tower.
In the real world, Art3mis’ player is a young girl named Samantha Cook and she has her friends rescue Wade and they bring him to her. Now working together, they realize the second challenge relates to Halliday’s regret of not pursuing a relationship with Kira. Along with Aech, Daito, and Sho, they enter the movie The Shining and search the Overlook Hotel for clues.
When they find the ballroom full of dancing zombies and a recreation of Kira, Art3mis takes the plunge and works her way towards Kira to dance with her. This wins her the second key made of jade. The other four members get the key soon after.
Sorrento next tasks F’Nale Zandor (Hannah John-Kamen) to find Wade. She tracks him to Samantha’s hideout and storm the place. Samantha sacrifices herself so that Wade may escape to win the contest. The IOI takes her to their Loyalty Center where they force her to pay off her father’s debt. Wade escapes when Helen Harris (Aech) shows up with Toshiro (Daito) and Zhou (Sho) in her truck after Samantha called them in the real world. Helen hatches a plan to free Samantha with Wade’s help. They hack Sorrento’s OASIS rig to get enough information out of him to free Samantha from her real-life confinement via the OASIS.
The IOI find the third challenge at the Castle Anorak on Planet Doom. There, players must guess Halliday’s favorite Atari 2600 game and play/beat it to win the final key. Using an incantation, i-R0k activates the Orb of Osuvox to place a forcefield around the castle so that the IOI can get the last key before anyone else. However, Samantha is still at the Loyalty Center and she re-enters the OASIS as Art3mis and disables it.
Wade broadcasts out to the entire user base of the OASIS to ask all players for help in defeating the IOI. A massive battle ensues as the High-5 heads to the castle. Sorrento, realizing that Samantha is still in the Loyalty Center, goes looking for her, but she refuses to leave the OASIS to save herself in the real world. Parzival decides to save her by killing Art3mis in the OASIS, forcing her to flee the IOI in the real world.
By now, Helen, Toshiro, and Zhou have had their avatars killed in the OASIS which frees Helen to pick up Samantha in her van while Toshiro, and Zhou watch over Wade in the back of it. Parzival and Sorrento (under the avatar IOI-655321) fight in the OASIS. When things turn bad for Sorrento, he detonates a Cataclyst bomb which kills every avatar on Planet Doom, himself included.
However, Parzival survives when he uses an extra life coin the Curator gave him after losing a bet earlier in the film. Wade plays the Atari 2600 game called Adventure, but doesn’t play to win it; he plays it to find Warren Robinett’s Easter egg. Wade finds it and wins the final key made of crystal.
He then uses the three keys to enter a treasure room where Anorak appears and offers him a contract to sign. However, Parzival recognizes the contract as the one Morrow signed when Halliday forced him out of Gregarious Games. Figuring it’s one last test, Wade refuses to sign it. Anorak then transforms into Halliday and expresses many regrets in his life. He then awards Parzival the Golden Easter egg.
While this is going on, the IOI have located Helen’s van and have been chasing the group through town. Wade tells them to head for the Stacks and asks the locals for help. When Helen stops the van, Sorrento gets out of one of the armored vehicles that was chasing her with a gun in his hand. Before he can shoot and kill Wade in front of everyone, the police arrive to arrest him.
Ogden Morrow shows up at the van where he reveals to Wade that he’s the Curator. Wade tells him he wants to run the OASIS with the High-5 and has Morrow to join them as a consultant. They ban Loyalty Centers from the OASIS which soon forces them to shut down around the world. The High-5 also makes a controversial decision to close the OASIS every Tuesday and Thursday so people will spend more time in the real world. This includes Wade and Samantha who have now begun a relationship of their own.
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Warner Bros. Pictures released Ready Player One on March 29, 2018. Steven Spielberg directed the film starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, and Ben Mendelsohn.