Curtains Up on Ready Player One

Spielberg is over 70 years old. You’d never know it.

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Steven Spielberg is only director that could have made Ready Player One, the new sci-fi, virtual reality action film based on Ernest Cline’s novel.  You know a master filmmaker is at work when a man like Spielberg can pull off a serious drama with The Post and an effects heavy machine like RPO three months apart. This is an monster film that is made with a steady hand and should be a lesson to the many flash in the pan action directors out there on how to construct films of this scale.

In 2045, people spend most of their lives in a virtual reality world called the OASIS that was created by a genius named James Halliday (Mark Rylance). This is a world where you can do or be anything or anyone, from Marty Mcfly from Back to the Future to Batman.  After Halliday’s death, he left behind clues for a ” Willy Wonka” style contest that has a winner acquiring the entire OASIS after completeing a three part quest.  It comes down to a group of young gamers, led by Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) to go up against a greedy cooperation led by the evil Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) in order to get this hidden “easter egg” and rule all of this VR kingdom.

Let it be said, majority of this film is actually in the OASIS so anyone who has issues with computer effects might groan — but it is done so well that this might be the best use of visual effects I have ever seen. The film is populated with avatars based on hundreds of video game, cartoon and movie characters.  I never thought I’d ever live to see The Iron Giant fighting a robotic Godzilla — but here it is. Ninja Turtles, Beetlejuice, Halo, King Kong…my eyes were looking all over the place and I still think I missed a bunch of references from my childhood. There is a sequence that puts our heroes within a scene from a famous movie that had the audience laughing and gasping. It’s one of the best scenes of any film I have seen this year.

Is it a flawless film? No. It’s about 15 minutes too long and some of the non-VR scenes aren’t as engaging as anything in the OASIS.  It it fun? Hell yes.  This is the Raiders of the Lost Ark Spielberg here. He is as much an audience member as he is the director and it shows.

 

 

 

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