Ready Player One
Time Out says
Steven Spielberg takes on Ernest Cline's pop-culture sci-fi novel with mixed results
Ernest Cline’s pulp sci-fi novel Ready Player One is a wiki’s worth of pop-culture references stitched together with a derivative plot. It has many readers but substantially fewer devotees. Steven Spielberg’s fun but forgettable adaptation may run into the same difficulties. It’s a CGI-heavy fantasia that will pop your eyeballs, but giddy as it is, it never quite sells its characters or gets much purchase on your emotions.
Like Tron being given a state-of-the-art update, it’s mostly set in an AI entity called the Oasis. A world of wish-fulfilment, it’s accessed by the downtrodden citizens of a dystopian 2045 with the fervour of addicts. Our tour guide is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), an orphaned teenager who scours the Oasis in the guise of his avatar, Parzival, looking for ’80s-referencing clues, or Easter eggs, left by its founder (Mark Rylance). Teaming up with Wade/Parzival – though with a more political agenda – is spiky hacktivist Art3mis (Olivia Cooke). Corporate villain Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn, having a ball) brings oily zeal.
Unusually for Spielberg, the emotional grace-notes that elevate his best work in the genre – Elliott’s flying bicycle in ET, the first dinosaur reveal in Jurassic Park – are substituted with the sugar rush of VFX cyberscapes. But there’s spectacle in abundance, along with more ’80s and ’90s references than you can shake an arcade joystick at. Our introduction to the Oasis is a breakneck race through an ever-shifting New York cityscape populated by rampaging movie monsters (King Kong! The T.rex from Jurassic Park!). It has Parzival behind the wheel of the DeLorean from Back to the Future, lining up against the A-Team’s van, Mad Max’s Interceptor and the bike from Akira, among many others. It’s a buzz from start to finish and a lingering high to carry you through the plotty bits.
It’s best to approach Ready Player One as a giant game of Pokémon Go for anyone who spent their pocket money playing Street Fighter II or had an Adam West Batmobile tucked away in their toy box. But if half the fun is in spotting the hidden references, the proportions are out of sync. You’re left with the overriding sensation of a master playing someone else’s greatest hits.
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This is the type of Spielberg film I'm into. Sci-fi and Spielberg is a match made in Heaven. A top premise that deviates from the popular book. Some clunky dialogue and acting but first and forth-most this film is a genuine spectacle of sight and sound. I agree with Spielberg's eventual message at the end of this film.
There's one mind-bending astonishing set-piece inside a famous Horror movie that blew my mind. It's one of the best meta sequences ever put to film. Glad to see Spielberg at what he does best. A good companion piece to MINORITY REPORT. I hope this film finds an audience as it is an original movie and not a reboot, remake or superhero movie.
Video game movies have never found a huge audience, one has to think of TRON LEGACY and how that film failed to register with the paying public. Gamers rarely go to the movies as they choose to stay in their mothers basement and play their games from morning to night. In my session it was all men as I failed to see one woman. I suspect this is basically a boys film. With a $175 million budget this film will depend on international sales. Deserves to find an audience!