Steven Spielberg has always made movie magic throughout his storied career. From “Jaws” to his latest effort “Ready Player One”, the producer/director knows how to delight movie fans. Spielberg’s latest effort is based on the 2011 novel of the same name and is set in the year 2045. This film does not present a pleasant future, as most of the citizens of the desolated world live in slum-like cities. To escape their dire situation, people take part in the virtual reality world of the OASIS, Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation (!), which provides the opportunity to engage in various activities for education, work, and entertainment. OASIS was created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) and Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg), and after Halliday passes those using the OASIS discover he has hidden Easter Eggs in the virtual world, that when discovered, will grant the winner control over the OASIS.
One of the players, and the lead character in the film, 18-year-old Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), is determined to find all the Easter Eggs, and after meeting virtual world Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), the two begin the quest together after Art3mis discovers Watts virtual character Parzival has found the first key of three needed to rule the OASIS. In the meantime, the bad buy of the film, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the CEO of Innovative Online Industries, also after the keys needed to control the OASIS, discover the real identity of Parzival, and set out to capture him after discovering he was able to find the fist key. The action of the IOI leads to a cat and mouse game of chases in both the virtual world and real worlds. Parzival and Art3mis are able to recruit several friends to help in their quest. Watts finally meets Art3mis in the world and discovers she is Smantha Cook, a member of the “High Five” an organization working to keep OASIS free and out of the hands of IOI. Of course the two fall in love, but Watts falls for Cook even before he meets her in the real world, which is a risk, as Art3mis could have been anyone living anywhere. This movie is really like stepping into a video game, and the 3D effects are wonderful. However, there were times when I was so distracted looking for all the pop culture references, I nearly lost track of the story-line.
If you look closely you can see everyone from Harley Quinn to Catwoman. On the other hand, King Kong and the Iron Giant are featured predominately. Oh, look, the Batmobile, Chucky, Freddy Kruger, the Joker, a T-Rex, and the car from “Back to the Future”! My head was spinning trying to keep up with all the pop culture characters and references, and it sure was fun. If the vast list of famous characters used in the film isn’t enough, the soundtrack is filled with classics including “Jump” by Van Halen and a dance segment lifted from “Saturday Night Fever”. This is one film that keeps the action fast and furious, which is good considering most of the film is in the virtual world. Despite all the glamour and fun in the OASIS, a simple message is conveyed: the real world is always better. “Ready Player One” is joyous fun, a pure delight for sci-fi fans, and is yet another cinematic victory by Spielberg.
Rated PG-13 (for language and violence) 4 Video Games (out of 4)