What we’re most excited for in Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” is the virtual reality-the fantasy world where you can be anyone-human, alien, or cartoon character. In fact, this movie is chocked full of pop culture references from “The Iron Giant” to “Back to the Future” to “The Shining.” Too much of that can happen, but this is still a Hell of an entertaining show.
Based on Ernest Cline’s novel, the movie takes place in Ohio of 2044, where everyone escapes poverty by entering the virtual reality, known only as the OASIS. The co-creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) has passed on, but before that, he left three keys, which would lead the victor to an Easter egg, which guarantees complete control of the OASIS-reality and fantasy.
That’s where Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) comes in. His Avatar is known as Parzival, and he has been trying to win the most impossible race (impossible because of King Kong). And being a big Halliday fan, he finds a way to win, and inspires some of his fellow avatars to do so.
One of the avatars is Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), and he fancies her so much that he makes a big mistake of telling her his real name.
1. You’re not supposed to reveal your true identity.
2. His identity and key to winning grabs the attention of Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendolsohn), the CEO of the rival company IOI.
He plans to take control of the OASIS, and offers Wade a deal, but he declines, meets the real Art3mis Samantha, and ventures in the OASIS to find the remaining clues.
“Ready Player One” is entertaining with this visual world, pop culture references, classic music hits (featuring Van Halen and Hall & Oates), and important message about how too much virtual reality can affect your reality. Glad I’m not hooked on to my VR goggles too much.
One of the best sequences in the movie is when Parzival (remember that’s Wade’s avatar), Art3mis, and their fellow avatars enter “The Shining” hotel where they deal with bloody elevators, and zombies (That’s not in the movie by the way). Sometimes they use archival footage, they altered the July 4th 1921 ball photo a bit, and they even used Ray Noble’s “Midnight, the Stars and You” song. It’s amazing to see these avatars enter this horrifying universe with only the zombies as someone’s imagination.
The performances in the movie are fun. Sheridan has proven himself to be a fine young actor with his ability to morph into his character’s ambitions. Cooke has a much better spark than that child actress from “Pacific Rim: Uprising.” Mendelsohn makes a charming villain, especially with his avatar looking like Josh Brolin as Superman. Rylance is certainly in a much better Spielberg fantasy than “The BFG.” Simon Pegg mostly uses an American accent as Halliday’s partner. And I did like TJ Miller as the villain’s dealer and bounty hunter avatar.
Is it a classic Spielberg movie? No, not really, because of how too many avatars, explosions, car races, and visual effects can leave you in a tizzy. But the more you watch “Ready Player One,” the more you’ll forget about your dizziness, and just have a blast.