Star – Steven Spielberg
My Rating ****
Genre – Action > Sci-Fi
Run Time – 2 hr 20 minutes
Certificate – PG13
Country – U.S.A
BAFTA – 1 nomination
Awards – 4 Wins & 25 Nominations
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Sci-Fi geeks will know that 2019 was the year dystopian thriller Blade Runner (1982) was set in although looking out the window right now Ridley Scott was a bit off with his vision. Thankfully it did not quite turn out that way with roaming replicant killers and authoritarian cops although you could say he wasn’t far off on the other stuff like drones and sex dolls. Ready Player One, on the other hand, Stephen Spielberg’s first Sci-Fi fantasy for 7 years since ‘Super 8’, has a more realistic vision of the future as people are increasingly addicted to virtual reality and not taken part in the world.
I always thought we would retreat into ourselves as social media and the internet took hold and every chance of us working in virtual reality to pay our bills one decade soon. The more exciting and immersive that world is the more of a pull it will have. We can be anyone we like with our online avatars and we can do anything we want. The movie Avatar was dreadful but his is not. Spielberg is back!
Tye Sheridan … Parzival / Wade
Olivia Cooke … Art3mis / Samantha
Ben Mendelsohn … Sorrento
Lena Waithe … Aech / Helen
T.J. Miller … I-R0k
Simon Pegg … Curator / Ogden Morrow
Mark Rylance … Anorak / Halliday
Philip Zhao … Sho
Win Morisaki … Daito
Hannah John-Kamen … F’Nale Zandor
Ralph Ineson … Rick
Susan Lynch … Alice
Perdita Weeks … Kira
Its 2047 and teenager Wade Watts (Tyre Sheriden) lives with his aunt in Oklahoma City in the “stacks”, a very poor district of town, portacabins stacked on top of each like Jenga, a vertical trailer park in the sky. He spends his down time logging on to the virtual reality game Oasis, his avatar “gunter” (“egg hunter”) using the pudendum Parzival. It’s the ultimate video game and the idea of the game is to collect three keys and then the Golden Easter Egg, hidden in the game and many virtual worlds around it. As yet, no one has found any. If someone was to find the Golden Easter Egg the prize is enormous, control of the games deceased creator James Haliday’s (Mark Rylance) and so his billion dollar fortune of The Oasis.
Players try to work out the puzzle anyway they can, in the virtual world and out of it. Wade thumbing through Halliday’s journal and Anorak’s Almanac, Halliday’s own public physical archives, spending many hours researching details of 1980s pop culture and classic video games and movies that Halliday loved.
As the film begins Wade has worked out a big clue and realizes that the first key is located in a virtual car race through a cheat. There he meets avatar Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), a famous female ‘gunter’ who has also been poking around the place looking for the key. But Wades ‘cheat’ works and wins the virtual race and awarded the Copper Key, appearing on the Scoreboard and attracting a lot of attention around the world for his game and detective skills. He also wins some money to buy cool gamin gear. Game on!
Art3mis is a pretty cute avatar in the game and the two eventually can’t resist meeting in real life as they plot to capture the next key through the various games and clues, pooling their resources with their friends and fellow close avatars. Art3mis warns Wade he is in danger. This decisive moment in the pursuit of Halliday’s fortune has bought him to the attention of Innovative Online Industries (IOI), a multinational corporation hell bent on their own mission to take control of the OASIS and privatize it, using their vast resources and cash to crack the clues. It’s headed by Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), a man that will do anything to get the Easter Egg, and as Wade and his team go deeper into the game and near the second and third keys the threat rises accordingly…
I enjoyed this enough and although it doesn’t feel like a classic Spielberg movie the director certainty enjoys paying homage to the time when he was top dog, the glorious 1980s. There’s cracking and imaginative 4D Shinning scene that’s classic Spielberg innovation and eye catching here and lots of 1980s film and music references to his movies and other great ones, the Back to the Future movie he would have made if he was 26 today.
It looks beautiful with an iridescent sheen in the virtual worlds that the Avatar nonsense didn’t have and the cast play it well. The soundtrack is not there though and I thought he missed a trick there. That was one of the reasons why Guardians of the Galaxy was so much fun. This movie needed a Walkman moment.
It’s a lot of green screen here so maybe worth a view on your mates big HD TV to get the full effect. It’s very much a special effects movie. It’s also a family movie with just one or two violent moments but nothing for young kids to worry about. It’s certainly one to watch, even if you haven’t heard of it. And how would you have heard of it with Blockbusters long gone and local libraries closing fast.
Imdb.com –7.5 /10.0 (265,324votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 72% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 64% critic’s approval