Ready Player One (2018)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn
Synopsis: When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video which challenges all the OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language)
Release Date: March 29, 2018
A virtual reality world where any human can be anybody they desire--male, female, young, old, a cartoon character, a movie character--the possibilities are endless and the limit is your own imagination. "People come to the OASIS for all the things they can do, but they stay for all the things they can be,” says Wade Watts, a late teen who's known as Parzival in the OASIS. After James Halliday, the creator of the virtual reality world suddenly dies, a video is released to users that announces a contest to find an Easter Egg within the OASIS, the winner of which will be given full ownership of the OASIS, along with Halliday's stock.
Set in 2045, Ready Player One is a film about the not-to-distant (but probably distant) future where artificiality has taken over the natural world. People no longer want to live in the lives that were inherently dealt to them--they want something more--even if none of it is real. It is an intriguing idea that's presented to audiences who are doing the very thing the OASIS does for its users--providing an escape from the outside world. Isn't that what everyone does when going to the cinemas?
The film is highly culturally relevant, and it knows it. For decades, people have been clamoring to not only watch movies with iconic characters, but to be those characters and take part in the action for themselves. It's why video games are so popular, and why theme parks are so heavily attended every year. People want to be more and experience more, and Ready Player One is just that--an experience.
Spielberg has created an immersive, visceral film that juggles dazzling visual effects with fleshed out characters and an intriguing narrative--a not-so-easy feat considering how so many films nowadays fall prey to the "visual effect overdose" issue. The key difference here is that the visuals inform the story, while also jumping back and forth repeatedly between the virtual world and the real world, which serves to keep the characters and audiences grounded in the natural world.
Since the world of the OASIS relies heavily on pop culture to satisfy users' interests, Spielberg implements numerous references to pop culture through the mise-en-scene of the OASIS. As someone who is responsible for creating many iconic films and characters throughout the past several decades, there are several nods to Spielberg's previous work sprinkled throughout the OASIS. Reportedly, many of the references from Ernest Cline's novel (which the film is based on) were cut from the film, but several remain, including pieces from Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. But the pop culture references don't stop with the visuals--they extend to the film's killer soundtrack, which includes many hits from the last several decades. These two elements combined--the visuals and soundtrack, produce a thoroughly absorbing and satisfying world that's sure to channel nostalgia from viewers.
Ready Player One is what cinema should be--an experience. It succeeds in bringing to the forefront our desires as humans to be more as a person and experience more in the short life we have on this earth--this increasingly aging planet. Despite its lengthy run time, it's well paced, populated with three-dimensional characters and an intriguing premise that's extremely relevant to the tech-heavy world we are continually moving toward. Finally, it also smartly teaches that, while immersing yourself in technology is fun and rewarding in its own right, it's also important to live in the real world and sometimes leave the artificial behind.
Written by Anthony Watkins, April 9, 2018