After taking on a couple of weightier projects in recent years like “Bridge of Spies” and “The Post”, Steven Spielberg once again turns his hand to the type of adventure that was his stock and trade back in the 80’s. Unlike “Tintin” or “The BFG” which is based on older material, this is an adaptation of a 2011 novel of the same name. “Ready Player One” is set in the far flung future and features a heavy dose of fully CGI characters and environments, and is set in both the real world and the virtual world of “The Oasis”. If you can imagine a version of “The Matrix” except entry to The Oasis is voluntary!
Following a global catastrophe, major cities have become overpopulated and people’s only escape is to enter the Oasis via a virtual reality headset. Once inside, we see their digital avatars and encounter the various worlds inside. Some go in purely for enjoyment, but some go in to try and find an easter egg in the Oasis hidden there by the late creator of the Oasis. Once found, the easter egg will bestow the control of the Oasis to the person that has found it, as well as the fortune left behind by the creator. If for this reason that Tye Sheridan’s character Wade Watson (aka Parzival) goes into the Oasis to try and find the egg. Tye Sheridan does a good job in his dual roles, Mark Rylance continues his collaboration with Spielberg after “Bridge of Spies” and “The BFG” and adds some real pathos to the character of James Halliday, and Ben Mendelsohn continues his run of great villains after “The Dark Knight Rises” and “RogueOne”.
The two most noteworthy things in the film are nostalgia and social commentary. On the nostalgia side, the film is steeped in iconic 80’s characters, settings, and vehicles. In the space of twenty minutes, you’ll see Freddy Kruger, Marvin the Martian, and the DeLorean from “Back to the Future”. The fact that Spielberg was responsible for so many influential moments from that time means that he has the benefit of firsthand experience, which informs his handling of the characters and scenes and helps the scope of the film as well. Spielberg also seems to be having a lot of fun working with characters that he previously wouldn’t have like King Kong or The Iron Giant. “Back to the Future” composer Alan Silvestri also works on the music to give it that even more authentic fell.
While the style may not be to everyone’s taste, the film has a very unique visual style and features some of the best looking CGI characters on film to date. At the very least, if you’re into your pop culture you’ll have a great time spotting all the references.
Theses are the worldly words of Kevin Dillon. @kevinwritestuff
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