And with that, director Steven Spielberg introduces us to his latest flick – an ambitious, sci-fi adventure that is futuristic in nature but is bursting with nostalgia at its heart. Giggity!
Based on the debut novel (haven’t read it; I don’t do that) from Ernest Cline, “Ready Player One” mostly takes place in the OASIS, a virtual world in which most of humanity spends its time, because… well, because real life circa 2045 is depressing AF.
The OASIS is a “place where the limits of reality are your imagination,” as explained by young Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan).
Under the guise of avatars and aliases, “people come to the OASIS for all the things they can do,” Wade continues, “but they stay because of all the things they can be.”
It’s sorta like the Big Market from “Valerian” – only not stupid.
After his death, OASIS creator James Halladay (Mark Rylance) announces – via pre-recorded video, of course – that within the OASIS is a game, and the first to find Halladay’s “Easter Eggs” hidden in that game will inherit his fortune – and full control of the OASIS.
Double giggity, right??
Wade, known in the OASIS as Parzival, is among the eager “Gunters,” or egg hunters, engaged in this search – that’s been ongoing for years.
In real life, Wade exists in his “own tiny corner of nowhere, protecting my tiny slice of nothing”; he lives with his aunt Alice (Susan Lynch) and her dippy boyfriend in an area known as “The Stacks,” which is a hundred times more deplorable than its name implies.
Halladay’s posthumous announcement could be Wade’s ticket to a better life, so this kid is all in. But he’s not the only one… .
And so begins this virtual pursuit that looks insanely cool, incorporates the most kick-ass music, and is so much fun you’ll forget about reality for 140 minutes.
Though “Ready Player One” spends most of its time in a fictitious realm, Spielberg continually jumps back and forth between it and its nonfiction counterpart to remind us that there is a difference. But we also see and understand that events in the OASIS can and do affect reality; we get that this isn’t just an “insert coin, start over” scenario – and that’s sobering discovery.
The story is a trip, and the eye-popping graphics and immersive visuals really help this flick level up; it’s like actually being inside a video game.
And there’s additional fun with the seemingly endless supply of pop culture references.
You’ll notice winks toward, among many others, John Cusack’s patented pose from “Say Anything”; the technology and light cycles from “Tron”; Hot Wheels track sets, with their crazy twists and turns; “Iron Giant,” with an appearance from the title character.
And because I’ve seen “Back to the Future” a million times, I probably noticed more nods to that classic flick above most others – including everyone’s favorite Delorean, with an added touch of K.I.T.T. from “Knight Rider”; the Zemeckis Cube and the genius capabilities it holds; the Goldie Wilson poster in a quick background scan of one scene.
Whether intentional or not, I also found the look and mannerisms of some of these characters to be eerily reminiscent of well-known 80s and 90s players; “dickweed” Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) reminded me of Mr. Vernon from “The Breakfast Club”; Halladay struck me as a combination of Garth Algar from “Wayne’s World” and James Langly, one of the Lone Gunmen, from “X-Files”; Aunt Alice and the loser boyfriend are almost clones of John Connor’s pukey foster parents in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”
Then when you factor in the amazing selection of songs – including tunes from Prince, Hall & Oates, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Tears for Fears, the Bee Gees, Twisted Sister and a whole mess of others – it’s easy to understand why “Ready Player One strikes a chord with movie buffs and music fans alike.
The outcome probably won’t be a shock, but I promise you there’s plenty of action and nail-biting tension to keep you engrossed and entertained throughout.
“Ready Player One” scores big in presenting this grand, futuristic adventure while wisely blanketing viewers in all the things with which they’re comfortable and familiar. It’s one hell of an enjoyable ride.
Are you ready?
You have just enjoyed the insights of Movie Addict Mel, a cinema dork and conversational writer. Follow her on Twitter @movieaddictmel, and “like” her Facebook page www.facebook.com/movieaddictmel. You also can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.