When Ready Player One came out in 2018, there were a lot of people who went nuts for it. Even people who’d never read the book – or even knew there was a book – were excited to watch it because of the sci-fi aspects, big action scenes and interesting, unique plot.
The movie is rated PG-13, due in large part to the copious amount of violence in the film, as well as some sexually suggestive content (including a pair of bare buttocks), some profanity and rude gestures and a few bloody scenes.
The rating kept a lot of parents from taking their children to see it, which is understandable. Others risked the rating and braved the theater with their children anyway.
Although CommonSenseMedia puts the suggested age for the movie at 12 and up, some parents reported taking children as young as age eight to watch it with few concerns.
I’m certainly not suggesting you let your young children watch this movie simply because it was an excellent movie. You, more than anyone else, know what’s right and appropriate for your own children, and there definitely are some mature aspects to the flick.
I just think it’s a shame that Warner Brothers didn’t try to make this film a little more kid-friendly.
Because of the explosive action and special effects, the video game and virtual reality aspects and the extremely cool idea of living the majority of your life inside a virtual world, this is a movie many children would have loved.
The book upon which the movie was based is pretty dark and violent, though, so I suppose it would have been hard to tone it down too much without losing the central theme of the story. Still, it’s sad that so many kids had to miss out on such a cool movie due to some of the more mature aspects of its filming.
If you and/or your children were fans of the movie or if you skipped the movie because your child was too young, you may be wondering if there are any more movies like Ready Player One, particularly with a more kid-friendly MPA rating. You’re in luck; there are several movies like Ready Player One, a few of which even have PG ratings, which makes them a little tamer than RPO.
If you want to know my criteria for judging if if movie is “like Ready Player One” scroll to the bottom of the article or click here.
Now, let’s get to the movies!
Movies Rated PG
Tron (1982) and Tron: Legacy (2010)
Although both Tron movies are great ones to watch if you’re looking for movies like Ready Player One, of the two, Tron: Legacy is probably the most similar.
Since both Tron movies feature protagonists that find themselves in a virtual world, I think this has less to do with the plot and more to do with the fact that Legacy was filmed in 2010, so the graphics, special effects, etc. are much more up-to-date and reminiscent of RPO than the original, which was filmed in the 80’s.
Legacy picks up several years after the original film and follows the story of Sam, the son of the original Tron‘s protagonist.
Sam goes looking for the cause of his father’s unexplained, mysterious death and finds himself in the digital, VR world his father had visited years before him.
The visuals and special effects are amazing, and even the plot is similar to RPO‘s. This is one of the best movies like Ready Player One there is.
Super Mario Brothers (1993)
A lot of the kids, especially the younger ones, who watched RPO might not have truly understood everything that was going on in the flick. Most of them still liked it, though, because of the video game aspect of the movie.
If you’re looking for something to watch that’s a little more kid-friendly but still has that video game vibe to it, the Super Mario Brothers movie from the early-90’s might just fit the bill.
Any kid who’s ever played a video game knows who the Mario Brothers are. In fact, when it comes to popular video game franchises, Mario is second only to Pokemon.
This is the live action movie of the popular video game and features Mario and Luigi somehow finding themselves in another dimension where dinosaurs were never destroyed.
Now, the dinosaurs’ descendants rule the land and are planning to take over the whole world.
I’ll be honest; it’s not great. However, kids love it, and it’s actually developed a huge cult following even among adults over the years. If the love of video games is what drew you and/or your children to RPO, this Mario flick will probably be a hit as well.
The Spy Kids Movies (2001-2011)
These movies probably won’t do much for you as an adult, but if you’re looking for RPO-like movies for your children to enjoy, give these a shot.
All the movies are pretty decent for kids to watch, but the one that’s most like RPO is the third film in the series, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.
This one features one of the Cortez siblings, Juni, returning to the organization in an attempt to find his missing sister. His search takes him inside a VR-based video game called Game Over.
This, of course, is where the main similarities to RPO can be found. Inside the game, Juni must complete the unbeatable fifth level in order to win the game and escape back into the real world.
He comes across his sister in the game, and together, they face all kinds of digital challenges, puzzles and enemies before they can escape.
The movie is PG, so it’s a bit more toned down than RPO; it also doesn’t have the same quality of special effects and big-budget visuals as RPO. Still, your kids will probably enjoy it.
Wreck-It Ralph (2012) & Wreck-It Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
If you’re looking for a movie that’s similar to Ready Player One, kid-friendly and something you and your kid can both enjoy, you simply must check out Wreck-It Ralph.
I can’t lie; I love this movie. It’s animated, so it’s on a totally different level than RPO, but the stories have a lot in common.
Ralph is a video game villain who’s tired of being the bad guy. He sets out on a quest to be a hero instead and somehow manages to pretty much wreck the entire arcade in which he and his fellow video game characters live. (In the sequel, which I love almost as much, Ralph goes high-tech and is able to wreck the internet as well.)
This is a much more lighthearted movie than RPO, but watching the characters move in and out of their different video games and travel through the cords to get to others is very RPO-like, and when Ralph goes digital in the sequel, the similarities become even more apparent.
Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
If you enjoyed the original Jumanji, you’ll also love Zathura, which is considered a sequel of sorts to the original.
Following the story of two brothers who play a board game that transports them into outer space, the movie is basically Jumanji with a little space and sci-fi thrown in for good measure. It also has several similarities to RPO.
The obstacles the brothers face after each turn are a lot like the challenges Wade and his friends face as they continue throughout the OASIS looking for Halliday’s egg.
There’s also a lot of camaraderie and cooperation between the two brothers that’ll put you in mind of Wade and his allies in RPO.
If you’re looking for something a little more suitable for younger children that still gives you that same virtual/sci-fi/video game feel, this is the movie for you.
Movies Rated PG-13
As popular and as highly praised as Avatar was when it first premiered, I’m not sure how anyone could have missed it. If you did somehow miss it, now’s the time to check it out.
It’s an engaging movie that’s just as gorgeous now as it was when it came out in the theaters. Until Avengers: Endgame premiered in 2019, it also held the record for highest grossing film of all time.
You’ll definitely get some RPO vibes from the gorgeous science fiction world, the stunning visual effects and the main character, Jake, putting his consciousness virtually into a new, alien body.
In “real life,” Jake is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. In his avatar’s body, he’s free to walk, move, jump and otherwise do the things any healthy human can do.
Similarly, the avatars in the OASIS in RPO are entirely new creations that can be whatever the user wants them to be. Aech’s avatar, for example, is a white male, while in “real life,” Aech is actually a black female.
The movies’ plots are different, but there are a lot of similarities between them.
Street Fighter (1994)
This is another one of those movies that isn’t exactly like RPO, but the fact that it’s based on a very popular video game series gives it a similar feel and makes it appeal to the same general audience.
This movie is classic 90’s action. It’s so classic 90’s, in fact, that it even stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, and it doesn’t get much more 90’s action movie than Van Damme.
The story is fairly loosely based on the games. It features Raul Julia in the role of a drug lord with control over an army of genetic super-soldiers who’s seeking to rule the world.
It’s classic video game action, with a lot of overdone fight scenes and a fair amount of blood and violence. It may not be one you want to share with your younger children.
Between the genetically modified super-soldiers, the extended action sequences and the video game inspiration, the movie bears more than a passing resemblance to Ready Player One, although it was filmed in 1994, so it doesn’t even remotely compare in terms of special effects.
Even so, you’ll probably still find it relatively enjoyable to watch if you’re a RPO fan.
Mortal Kombat: The Movie (1995)
I was always much more of a Mortal Kombat girl than a Street Fighter girl. Even now at 36, when I can no longer by any stretch of the imagination be considered “a girl,” I still much prefer Baraka and Mileena to Ryu and Chun-Li. That’s probably why I enjoyed the Mortal Kombat movie so much more than I did Street Fighter.
In terms of being similar to Ready Player One, though, the two movies share many of the same similarities. Mortal Kombat is based on the hugely popular video game series and features the same intense, drawn-out fight scenes, battles, blood and violence.
There’s even the classic “good underdogs versus powerful evil foes” story in all three of the films. In this one, Lord Raiden trains three martial artists – Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage and Lui Kang – to fight in an Outerworld tournament against the demonic forces of Shang Sung in an effort to keep him from overrunning the world with evil.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) & Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003)
Here again we have two movies based on a very popular video game franchise, which automatically puts you in a Ready Player One frame of mind.
These movies also feature a strong female lead who kicks so much butt, which should remind you a bit of Art3mis in RPO. What makes these movies most like RPO, though, is that they both feature Lara Croft on a quest to find something extraordinary.
While Croft doesn’t enter into a virtual world to find her hidden treasure, she still faces many trials, challenges, puzzles and enemies in order to achieve her goals.
In the first movie, she’s searching for two halves of an ancient artifact that controls time; in the second, she’s hunting for Pandora’s Box.
If Croft’s trials and battles aren’t enough to remind you of Wade’s hunt for Halliday’s egg, nothing will be.
One of the things I love most about Ready Player One is that even though it’s a movie about a hunt for the ultimate Easter egg – or perhaps because of this – the movie, itself, is riddled with Easter eggs of its own.
I really enjoyed the film the first time I watched it, but the second time, I couldn’t have told you what was going on because I was too busy trying to watch with eagle eyes and pick out every single Easter egg in the movie.
I like Pixels for the same reason. The movie isn’t based on a video game like many others on this list. Instead, it’s a movie about video games. (Actually, it’s about an angry alien civilization who sends down a bunch of monstrously giant video game characters to attack Earth after mistaking a video tape of arcade games as a declaration of war on their planet.)
Even so, the movie is packed full of awesome Easter eggs that any hardcore nerd, old-school (or new-school) gamer or practically anyone who grew up in the 90’s can appreciate.
The movie is also just hilarious and stars some of my favorite actors including Peter Dinklage and Adam Sandler. The multiple Easter eggs, copious video game references and the aliens’ large digital constructs will all have you feeling RPO-vibes.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
I know; I know. It’s another video game turned movie. There’s just something about movies based on video games that automatically remind me of RPO, but I promise I limited myself to the most relevant ones.
In addition to being based on a video game, this movie, which features Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan and Gemma Arterton as Tamina, has a few other things that make it very RPO-like.
First of all, the plot relies heavily on hardcore action and fight scenes, and since the movie was made in 2010, the special effects are actually pretty good. They aren’t Ready Player One quality, but they aren’t bad either.
Additionally, the two leads will put you in mind of Wade, or more accurately, his avatar Parzival, and Art3mis. Finally, Dastan and Tamina’s quest to keep the Sands of Time safe and out of the hands of evil is also very reminiscent of the main characters’ quest to find Halliday’s egg.
Pacific Rim (2013)
I’m not sure what it is about Tye Sheridan (the actor who plays Wade Watts) that puts me in mind of a young Charlie Hunman (who stars in Pacific Rim), but whatever it is, it’s there.
Pacific Rim is another great, underrated science fiction film that’s absolutely full to the brim with epic fight scenes and battles, monsters that have to be overcome to save the world and lots and lots of robots.
With all that behind it, it’s no surprise that people often compare the movie with Ready Player One, and the comparisons are always pretty favorable.
Both movies also feature a heavy reliance on the bonds of trust and friendship, the importance of technology and some absolutely stunning visual and special effects.
Both films are also the works of two of Hollywood’s most popular directors – Steven Spielberg (RPO) and Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim) – and had pretty amazing budgets, which certainly helped with the quality.
The Divergent Movies (2014-2016)
There are many things about this series that make it quite similar to Ready Player One, in tone and feel if not in plot. Much like RPO, the Divergent movies are set in a dystopian, futuristic society.
The movie follows the story of Tris, a seemingly powerless young girl who finds herself in the middle of a large-scale conspiracy by a government trying to destroy what’s left of the world.
This, too, is similar to RPO, whose main character is a powerless “nobody” who gets thrust into a large, dangerous world and finds out there’s a very powerful company looking to destroy the way the virtual world operates.
Mostly, though, the two movies are alike in the massive amount of fight scenes, explosive action and the overwhelming sense of edge-of-your-seat adventure. Additionally, the close-knit group of young people working together to defy the odds appears in both flicks.
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Although there are no instances of virtual reality or video game aspects in this movie, it’s probably one of the best movies like Ready Player One in all the ways that count.
This science fiction movie is about a cyborg named Alita, who was created for one purpose: to be a deadly weapon aimed at her creator’s enemies.
When she decides to follow her own path in a quest to find out who she is, her creator is terrified of what she might do and seeks to stop her and shut her down forever.
In addition to utilizing many of the most common science fiction tropes and ideas, Alita also resembles RPO in the sheer amount of action, special effects and incredible fight scenes featured throughout the movie.
Additionally, it’s set in a futuristic society, and although Alita is not a VR creation, she is a cyborg, which is very similar to a virtual creation.
You’ll also see some similarities in the way both movies look. The scrapyards and other various parts of Iron City in Alita are a lot like the broken and desolate trailer park where Wade Watts lives in RPO.
The more high-tech, futuristic settings of Alita will also remind you of Wade’s time inside the OASIS.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)
While the original Jumanji has a few things in common with Ready Player One, it’s the 2017 reboot of the film that really puts you in mind of it.
Unlike the original Jumanji, which featured a magical board game, this version has the kids stumbling across an old-school video game cartridge while cleaning up a room in detention.
They stick the game in the console and magically find themselves transported into another world in the bodies of the avatars they’d chosen to play the game.
The transformation into digital avatars is one of the things that makes this movie most like RPO, but it isn’t the only similarity.
There’s also a lot of action, some great fight scenes and enjoyable humor, and of course, there’s the four people coming together under unusual circumstances and being forced to rely on one another and work together to survive.
Each character has his or her own special abilities and weaknesses, and the landscape inside the game is very similar to the OASIS in that each one faces several trials and obstacles that s/he must overcome if they’re all to get out alive.
Ender’s Game (2013)
If you’re looking for another movie about a young man set on a journey that challenges and tries to defeat him but can’t, Ender’s Game is the movie for you. Both this movie and RPO share a youthful, fantastical sci-fi vibe that makes them incredibly similar.
The main character in this movie, Ender Wiggin, is enlisted by the military to help fight off and hopefully destroy an alien race that’s far superior to humans in every way.
Ender spends much of his time playing games, which we later come to find are all part of one massive, important, life-changing game, much like Wade’s evolution from a casual gamer in the OASIS to a major contender fighting to just stay alive against a more powerful foe.
There’s also a strong bond of friendship that develops between Ender and some of the others on the ship that’ll remind you of Wade, Art3mis and Aech.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
A lot of people missed this one when it first premiered. I was one of them. I didn’t watch it until very recently, and I’m glad that I finally did.
Although this science fiction/fantasy movie didn’t get a lot of press when it came out, it’s actually surprisingly good.
Much like RPO, it’s set in a dystopian, futuristic society. What’s left of the world as humans know it is under attack by a mysterious evil that must be stopped.
In typical young adult, sci-fi form, the people destined to stop it are young and relatively inexperienced, just like Wade and his pals in RPO. In this case, it’s Laureline and Valerian, played by Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan respectively.
There’s a lot of high-budget action and special effects, and the visual appearance of the movie is nothing short of beautiful.
There’s also a large area in Valerian called the Big Market, which is really just a multi-dimensional mall where people show up to shop virtually using VR headsets.
It’s an odd addition to the movie, but it fits in well with the rest of the plot. It’s this Big Market that really cements this movie in my mind as being like Ready Player One.
When it comes to classic science fiction with a huge cult following, you can’t really beat the original Dune flick from the 1980’s.
Although the movie, which is based on the Frank Herbert book of the same name, kind of flopped at the box office when it was first released, over the years, more and more people have come to appreciate it.
Whether it’s simply the use of common sci-fi tropes or the over-the-top action scenes, the movie really reminds me of Ready Player One. There’s even a nice little Dune Easter egg in RPO when Wade mentions a Harkonnen ship that can fold space.
Whether or not RPO‘s director Steven Spielberg was influenced at all by David Lynch’s direction in Dune has never been discussed, but I also see some similarities in the filming style and pacing of both movies.
Assassin’s Creed (2016)
Our last video game-inspired movie on the list is also one of the ones that did the best job of staying true to the main story line in the video games.
Everything about this movie, from the casting choices to the main plot, seems as though it stepped directly out of the video game franchise and onto the big screen. Perhaps it’s this truthful, accurate portrayal of the games that makes this movie so much like RPO.
In the movie, Michael Fassbender stars as Callum Lynch, who’s trained as a professional assassin in order to hopefully wipe out a secret Templar society.
This is a relatively new movie, so the graphics, special effects and editing work are all top-notch and easily rival the incredible visuals in RPO.
While the bulk of the movie is set in the 15th century, Callum is sent into that time from the year 2016 via some very sophisticated technology that uses his genetic memories to send him back in time.
Finally, there’s that same level of action and adventure present in this film that also drives the story of RPO. If you like either one of these movies, you’re sure to enjoy the other just as much.
Mortal Engines (2018)
If you’re looking for another movie set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian, future society, Mortal Engines has you covered. Three people band together to help save the city of London, which is now a giant, moving vehicle/city.
It’s a very odd premise, but it plays out well on-screen, and you’ll soon start to notice the similarities between the two movies, not just in the setting of the futuristic, mostly destroyed world but also in the three main characters who band together to survive.
There’s also an element of chaos to the movie, which features cities literally “eating” each other to survive, that’s very much like the chaos of some of the darker scenes inside the OASIS in RPO.
Although there are no video games or virtual reality in Mortal Engines, it won’t take you more than about ten minutes into the movie to see many of the ways it compares to RPO.
What Makes Movies “Like” Ready Player One?
Ready Player One relies heavily on common science fiction tropes, imagery and special effects. This doesn’t mean that every sci-fi movie is “like Ready Player One,” but being a science fiction movie does put a film a step in the right direction.
Flashy, High-Budget Action Scenes
The insane action sequences in Ready Player One largely contribute to the movie’s popularity. Typically, most sci-fi movies have some killer special effects, but they aren’t always heavy on the hardcore action. RPO had enough explosive fight scenes and chases that even a die-hard action movie fan could appreciate it.
While this type of on-screen action isn’t totally unheard of in sci-fi (Star Wars, for instance, fills every single one of its movies with fighting, shooting and ship chases), RPO definitely went above and beyond the norm for most science fiction flicks.
Virtual Reality & Video Games
These are two of the largest components of RPO, and they’re also what most kids – and several adults – loved best about the movie. People love video games, and the excitement and intrigue of a virtual reality world, which is less and less far-fetched every year, is something we all tend to enjoy.
VR is already a reality for us, although not quite on the scale of RPO. Still, the idea that one day soon we may actually get to exist in a world where we can live inside our favorite video games and interact with our favorite heroes and villains is something that draws a lot of us to movies like RPO.
The amazing thing about VR on that widespread scale is that there are no limits to what you could do with that type of technology. For that reason, there are several movies on this list that feature virtual reality and/or are based on popular video games.
Ready Player One features a lot of robots and other advanced technology and A.I. There are several movies out there that also feature this kind of technology, and while not all of them are reminiscent of RPO, many of them are.
The Dystopian World
Ready Player One is set in the year 2045, and Earth in 2045 is not a great place to be. The dystopian, futuristic society has always been a popular setting in science fiction books and movies, but over the last decade or so, it’s popularity has increased seemingly exponentially.
While not all movies set in a damaged, dystopian world are like Ready Player One, there are several of them that are quite similar.
The Thrill of the Hunt
The most driving factor of the main plot in Ready Player One is the hunt for an Easter egg – not a literal Easter egg, but a unique, hidden object placed inside a movie, TV show, book or game that die-hard fans try to find. This particular Easter egg, known as Halliday’s egg, has been placed inside a VR game. The prize for finding it is tantalizing enough that most of the world’s population is invested in trying to find it.
The clues, puzzles and challenges the main character and his friends face in their search for this Easter egg is what makes the movie so memorable and exciting.
Therefore, a movie with a good, solid plot featuring a scavenger hunt or treasure hunt of some kind is likely going to put you and/or your child in mind of RPO. Even though I didn’t add them to this list, the scavenger/treasure hunt aspect of the movie means that even non-sci-fi movies, such as Indiana Jones, The Goonies and The Pirates of the Caribbean movies, can be quite similar to RPO.