While watching ‘Ready Player One’, you would immediately forget that Steven Spielberg’s newest visual spectacle was based on Ernest Cline’s novel. From a cinematic viewpoint, it is a big-budget action epic with so many blink-and-you-will-miss-it pop culture references, ranging from characters like The Iron Giant and Chucky to vehicles like the DeLorean, the bike from ‘Akira’, and Christine. Nerds will find themselves having a blast trying to spot every Easter egg, while movie-goers will no doubt enjoy the amazing virtual world Spielberg has brought to life. Thinking about it, ‘Ready Player One’ has something for everyone to enjoy.
While the film is loaded to the brim with 80’s and 90’s nostalgia, underneath all the hullabaloo of cameos lies a story with social commentary relating to the public’s use of digital technology to immerse themselves into fictional worlds; though it is less preachy, and more entertaining. ‘Ready Player One’ takes place in Columbus, Ohio. The year is 2045. The world is nothing but a dystopia where sources are bad enough to the point where people have now turned to a virtual world called The Oasis – invented by the late James Halliday (Mark Rylance), as a means to escape the harsh realities of life; a place where anyone can be who they want. It is where Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) finds his solace, away from his horrid living conditions in a trailer park called “The Stacks” (It must be hell when you have one trailer sitting on top of another).
In the Oasis, Wade, like everyone else in the real world, has his own avatar who goes by the name Parzival, a best friend named Aech (Lena Waithe), who works as a mechanic for the many vehicles, and a love interest in the strong-willed Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), though he does not know them in real life. Most of the film’s runtime takes place in the virtual world, making it 90% animated, though it goes back to the real world when the plot calls for it.
Speaking of plot, things get interesting when James Halliday dies; his last will and testament in the form of a video message relays that he has put a hidden Easter egg (Yes, an actual Easter egg) somewhere in the game. The only goal for all players is to find three keys in a series of challenges, leading the winner closer to finding the egg. The catch: Whoever gets the egg will take control of the Oasis and everything in it. However, it is not just the players who are interested in finding the egg; a company known as Innovative Online Industries, run by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) seeks to retrieve it themselves, leading to a race against time.
A lot of critics have said that ‘Ready Player One’ “hearkens back to Spielberg’s past adventure films”. While I hate to say what does come to mind is James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’, where it mostly takes place in a computer-animated world filled with danger at every turn. Though, I will be thinking more of ‘Ready Player One’ than ‘Avatar’. I can agree with all critics when I say that Spielberg has made another masterpiece of wonder.