Ready to dive further into universes beyond your imagination? Then boy, do we have a treat for you with our list of movies like Ready Player One!
In 2018, Steven Spielberg took audiences on a journey through a visual extravaganza with Ready Player One. The film is set in a future where most of humanity is addicted to a virtual reality simulation named OASIS. And amid the visual spectacle of it all is Wade Watts, an orphan competing for ownership of the virtual world.
Critics found the story and character development lacking, but agreed that Ready Player One was a treat for the eyes. It was also noted for bringing ‘80s nostalgia to life, filled with wonder and magic.
Here are a few more movies that hit those same highs.
Movies Like Ready Player One
Ready Player One’s greatest strength was its ability to transport its audience into the virtual reality simulation of Wade’s world. Stunning visuals were, essentially, the highlight.
Here are some of the best movies like Ready Player One that allowed their visuals to take center stage.
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Alita: Battle Angel is a cyberpunk dream, filled with gorgeous visual effects and equally stunning action sequences. It follows Alita, a young girl who awakens in a cyborg with no memory of who she is. As Alita attempts to uncover her roots, she finds herself in the middle of a battle that threatens the lives of her new friends.
Despite being stuck in development hell for nearly two decades, Alita managed to find its way to the big screens and into the hearts of its audience. And while its screenplay earned some criticism, the film was ultimately praised for its stunning visuals and creative use of CGI to bring a manga character to life.
Tron: Legacy (2010)
Tron is a story that blends the real world with that of virtual reality. The original 1982 movie was a groundbreaking film that revolutionized the use of CGI in films.
At the end of Tron (1982), software engineer Kevin Flynn successfully escapes the virtual world and claims his rightful place as CEO of the ENCOM corporation. When Tron: Legacy opens, however, we learn Flynn has been missing for twenty years. His son Sam has seemingly followed in his footsteps at ENCOM. Yet when he receives a message from the virtual reality world, seemingly from his father, he must make the same journey Flynn once did and uncover what really happened all those years ago.
Tron (1982) was a game-changer. So much so, director/producer John Lasseter once declared that “without Tron, there would be no Toy Story.” Nearly three decades later, Tron: Legacy upholds this legacy, bringing its own flair to the visual effects game.
I, Robot (2004)
In a futuristic dystopia, humanoid robots have taken over most service sector jobs. The robots are programmed to adhere to a strict code of conduct, which prevents them from harming humans. Yet, when the man who builds the machines turns up dead, Detective Spooner must uncover the truth of these machines.
While modern media has increasingly leaned into the man versus machine debate, I, Robot is part of an earlier era of film. One that was just beginning to journey into the philosophical territory of questions like “what makes us human?”
I, Robot’s greatest strength lies in stunning visuals that were ahead of its time. The animation does a fantastic job of adding a sense of eeriness to the otherwise gentle-looking robots. And on top of it all, I, Robot is an action-packed thriller that perfectly matches the film’s slick visuals.
More Movies Like Ready Player One
Outside of its visuals and nostalgia, Ready Player One is also one hell of an adventure ride. Here are a few more films that blend visuals with action-adventure and offer a thrilling experience.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
Major Valerian, a member of a peacekeeping force in the distant future, finds his mind overtaken by dreams of a land he has never been to. When he realizes these dreams are, in fact, a telepathic message, he sets out on a mission to expose a cover-up and save the world.
Valerian, like many other movies on this list, earned some criticism for its narrative and storytelling. But most critics also noted that these flaws didn’t take too much away from the film. Gorgeous environments depict a futuristic intergalactic world. Character designs offer interesting variations across the universe. And advanced technology ties it all together.
All in all, this film offers a visual treat with some noteworthy action sequences to complete the viewing experience.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to the original 1982 film, Blade Runner. Both films are set in a dystopian world where bioengineered human slaves called “replicants” do the bidding of their “human” masters. In 2049, a replicant named K stumbles into revelations that change everything he knows about this world. And thanks to this knowledge, K has now inherited a war that could bring his whole world crashing down.
The original Blade Runner film had a significant impact on the cyberpunk and future-noir genres, as well as on filmmaking at large. Its influence is notable in everything from films like Battlestar Galactica to anime like Ghost in the Shell and Psycho-Pass. And 2049 does more than live up to its predecessor, breathing new life into the lore of the Blade Runner world.
The Transformers franchise has been beloved since the ‘80s. An epic for the ages, it revolves around the eternal battle between the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons, led by Megatron.
In the 2007 Micheal Bay-direction version, the two factions battle over possessions of the AllSpark, an artifact that can either rebuild their home planet or destroy the one they’ve come to call home.
One of Bay’s specialties is seamlessly blending real-life practical effects with computer animation and visual effects. Transformers is a high-octane action adventure. And while your brain logically knows these bots aren’t real, Bay’s mastery of visual storytelling somehow convinces you they are.
Movies Like Ready Player One on Netflix
Looking for action-packed visual extravaganzas that are a little closer to home? Here are a few more movies like Ready Player One currently available on Netflix.
Ender’s Game (2013)
Ender’s Game is a military sci-fi action film focused on the titular Ender, an extremely gifted young boy who shows promise as a future member of an elite army. In this future, an alien race called the Formics has already decimated earth, and the army of highly trained fighters is forged to take the fight to them.
Preparing to counter the aliens by invading their home planet, the Battle School ramps up their training. Yet, when Ender displays his unique intellect and quick thinking, he is quickly promoted and tasked with leading a squad of his own. Unfortunately for him, this might not be the dream job he imagines.
Ender’s Game is a visual treat and features some gripping thrills as the story unfolds around Ender. But beyond these merits, the film is also a look into how power and corruption can often turn promising youths into mindless tools of war.
Pacific Rim (2013)
Pacific Rim is set in a futuristic world where colossal sea monsters, or “kaiju,” have emerged from the oceans and are terrorizing the planet. To combat the looming threat, humanity unleashes giant mechas called Jaegers, controlled by two co-pilots joined by a mental link.
The film’s premise is often seen as an homage to Japanese kaiju and mecha-themed media. Pacific Rim earned significant praise both for this homage, which naturally drew in fans of all ages from across the globe, as well as for its stunning visual imagery. The portrayal of the Jaegers as well as the film’s cinematography and visual effects have also earned praise.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
The Terminator franchise began with the 1984 film which introduced us to Sarah Connor. Future mother to rebellion leader John Connor and all-around badass. Despite the first film’s iconic status, it is Terminator 2: Judgement Day that earns all the praise. Its visual effects and action sequences were so far ahead of the game, VFX artists still have trouble recreating its scenes using modern technology.
Judgement Day was the perfect blend of special effects and gripping action. Robert Patrick’s T-1000 is easily one of the most menacing villains of all time. And Arnold Schwarzenegger switches from villain to hero quite effortlessly.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
In a world where visual effects in films have transcended what we thought possible, one film managed to go a step further. That film is none other than the first animated film in the Spider-Man franchise, Into the Spider-Verse.
Young Miles Morales, a Spider-Man in training so to speak, is confronted by the possibility of his world being destroyed by Kingpin. Soon, Spider-People from various universes join him in his fight.
The result is a movie that is so visually stunning, it left everyone – including the cast and crew of the live-action Marvel films – in sheer awe.
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”
The 1984 Blade Runner’s ending monologue has a lot to offer. As one of the most quoted dialogues in history, the soliloquy is the calm rebuke of the hunted as he shows mercy to his hunter, eventually dying on his own terms.
Many an analysis has been done on this speech. The most intriguing of them all is one that notes how this final word from the replicant Batty Roy displayed both his artificial abilities and his inherent humanity. The blend of nature with manmade creations.
Movies like Ready Player One are, in essence, just that. A perfect blend of real, practical filmmaking with visual effects that bring our wildest imaginations to life. And despite the criticisms many of these films have earned for their screenplay or characterizations, it’s easy to see why they continue to be fan favorites. After all, who doesn’t love a good show?
If you’re interested in more out of this world visuals, check out Movies Like Interstellar while you’re here!
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