Australian Council on Children and the Media

Ready Player One

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Not recommended under 13; Parental Guidance to 15 (intense Sci-fi/fantasy action and violence; images that may scare and disturb younger children, sexual references and coarse language).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ready Player One
  • a review of Ready Player One completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 5 April 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended
Children 13 - 15 Parental Guidance recommended

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Ready Player One
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes, violence, and coarse language
Length 140 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Ready Player One is set in the year 2045, Columbus Ohio, where cities have become a hive-like construction of out-fitted containers stacked on top of each other. The culture is based around reality co-existing with a virtual reality world called OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), which was created by the late James Holliday (Mark Rylance).  People can interact, work and play in both worlds.  Embedded within the virtual world of OASIS is a game called Anorak’s Quest in which players search for three keys with each key providing a clue to the location of the next key and ultimately the location of a golden Easter Egg. The prize for finding the golden egg is to inherit Holliday’s fortune and become the sole owner of OASIS.

 

Players who hunt for Holliday’s hidden egg are referred to as “Gunters”. One such Gunter is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) who is represented by the avatar Parzival in OASIS (in the OASIS world participants go by their avatar name never revealing their real identity). Parzival’s best friend is Aech (Lena Waithe), a mechanic, capable of building and fixing anything. Parzival’s other friends include the infamous Gunter Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) and the brothers Darto (Win Morisaki) and Soto (Philip Zhao). The five Gunters become known as the ‘High Five’ when Parzival discovers the secret to gaining the first of the three keys and his four team mates go on to find the other keys soon after. Also hunting for the egg is the CEO of Innovative Online Industries (IOI), Noland Sirrento (Ben Mendelson), who also wants to gain ownership of OASIS.  Sirrento has an army of debt-indentured players called “Sixers”. After Parzival wins the first key, Sirrento hires the services of a bounty hunter called I-Rock (T.J.Miller) to hunt down Parzival’s real identity and kill him. In order to survive, Parzival/Wade must infiltrate both worlds to stop Sirrento from claiming Holliday’s egg and gaining the ultimate prize.

 

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Ready Player One contains extended sequences of intense Sci-fi/fantasy, action and violence enacted within a virtual reality world where blood is depicted as an explosion of gold coins and the loss of life means the loss of special weapons, wealth and strength. In the real world, scenes depicting gun related violence, multiple violent deaths, large scale mass destruction and the depiction of blood and gore and gruesome images are seen.

Examples include:

• Most of the violence depicted throughout the film occurs within a virtual reality world where players are represented by avatars with sci-fi action and violence similar to that depicted in games such as Halo and Doom. This includes lots of colourful explosions, laser fire and use of high-tech weapons, vehicles and gadgets.

• The film depicts a virtual reality car race. During the race, cars, trucks and motorbikes race along roadways in a reckless manner. One vehicle has circular saws attached to it, which it uses to slice open and destroy other competitors’ cars. Lots of crashes occur with cars exploding in flames. When a car is destroyed, or a competitor killed, they explode in a shower of gold coins. Bridges collapse in flames as competitors drive over them, a series of steel wrecking balls smashes into vehicles, while gigantic dinosaurs eat and stomp on vehicles. A King Kong creature rampages, smashing both buildings and cars including picking up a motorbike in its hand and squashing it.

• A woman yells at a teenage boy and we hear that both of the boy’s parents had died when he was young. In a more brutal scene depicted later in the real world, an older man grabs an older teen boy and slams him against a wall. The older man then punches the teen in the face knocking him to the ground.

• Drones  attach bombs to containers used as living apartments which are stacked several stories high. The containers explode in flames and crash to the ground killing all those in their wake. People scream and run in all directions to escape the destruction.

• In OASIS, all manner of fantastic avatars fight each with laser weapons, power weapons, swords, gun and cannons. The Iron Giant and giant Power Rangers fight each other causing massive damage to property and avatar life.

• In one scene an arm is cut from an avatar’s body.

• In OASIS, dozens of armed guards enter a nightclub and start open-firing on patrons. One patron is shot and a glowing spot is seen where the patron was shot.

•A man covers a teen’s nose and mouth with a cloth causing him to fall unconscious.

• A woman opens a van door and points a gun at the occupants of the van. A fight ensues between the gunwoman and the occupants, which results in the gunwoman being kicked from the van and rolling down the road.

• A woman is imprisoned in a cubical that holds her avatar as a prisoner in OASIS. The avatar is zapped by a cattle prod for not working.

• In OASIS a man detonates a device that explodes killing every avatar in the game.

• In a couple of scenes people in real-life are seen wearing VR goggles (in the street) enacting what they are doing in the game kicking, punching etcetera.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

  • There is much in this movie that would frighten children in this age group particularly the scary visual images of monsters and zombies etc.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A dead man is shown lying in a coffin with two pennies covering his eyes. Suddenly he opens his eyes, sits up and talks.
  • We see the abdomen of a large avatar pushing outwards until a creature bursts out and lurches towards another avatar; Virtual blood and gore splatter everywhere.
  • During one scene, an elevator door opens and a wall of blood pours out, washing away all in its path including an avatar.
  • Images of a nude woman (seen from the back) are shown as she tries to seduce a man, but she transforms into an old woman’s rotting corpse; her flesh and bones decompose and she attacks the man with a large knife.
  • A woman dances/floats in the air while zombie-like creatures are on the dance floor. We see one of the zombie’s eyes pops out of its socket and the woman pulls an arm from the socket of a second zombie. We see a third zombie bend backwards and the sounds of bones crunching can be heard.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Children in this age group could still be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

 

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • No additional scenes or materials.

Product placement

  • Multiple references to movies and movie characters from the past fifty years.

Sexual references

The film contains low-level sexual references and innuendo throughout. Examples include:

  • An older teen makes reference to his aunty having a string of sexual partners which he refers to as losers.
  • An older teen refers to a woman as “Hot”.
  • An older teen boy tells an older teen girl that he is in love with her.
  • In reference to a teen boy having a crush on a teen girl, a second teen boy says, “She’s hacking at your heart to get at your mind”.
  • In one scene a woman makes reference to virtual dating saying “As if that works”.
  • A man talks about his deepest fear which is kissing a woman.

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains minimal nudity and some sexual activity.

Examples include:

  • Multiple scenes depict sensuous looking female avatars with low-cut tops, exposed cleavage, bare shoulders, backs and midriff.
  • While an older teen couple are dancing in their avatar forms, the girl asks the boy if he came prepared. She then asks him if ‘he can feel this’ as she caresses his torso in a sensual manner and we see glowing handprints on his suit.
  • We see a nude woman sitting in a bath (tops of shoulders and back only). She steps out of the bath and walks towards a man in a suggestive manner showing her bare back and the top of her buttocks.
  • Two teen avatars dance in a club and they embrace. The girl asks the boy about the sensitivity of his suit and we see glowing handprints appear on his arm as she caresses him, and then on his chest and crotch and he flinches.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • One scene depicts partly drunk bottles of beer and champagne glasses sitting on tables.
  • A man uses a handkerchief with a drug on it to render a teen boy unconscious.

Coarse language

The film contains some coarse language and name calling scattered throughout. Examples include:

  • Frequent use of: ‘Pissed at you’; bad arse; bummer; shit; damn; hell; arse;
  • Infrequent use of: sucks; arsehole; balls; and the word “fucking” is used once.
  • Name calling such as: Idiot, loser; ghetto trash, dreamer.

In a nutshell

Ready Player One is a futuristic, science fiction, Spielberg film, largely based around nostalgic pop culture from the 1980’s. The virtual world of OASIS is actually more interesting and exciting than the real world and the visual imagery there is stunning. The film is well acted and will certainly entertain its targeted audience of mature adolescents, as well as adults.   

 

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Reality is far more interesting, and important, than any virtual world.

 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Teamwork and friendship: throughout the film friendship and teamwork result in greater success and winning.
  • Self-sacrifice: throughout the film friends sacrifice themselves in order to save others.

 

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Parents may wish to discuss how to separate reality from fantasy. Time spent in virtual worlds needs to be balanced with more time spent in reality. Parents should also keep in mind that younger children under seven years of age have difficulty discerning the difference between reality and fantasy and are more likely to be disturbed by a threatening fantasy world.

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