When the creator of a virtual-reality world known as the OASIS passes away, he leaves behind a video in which he announces that he has hidden an Easter egg deep within the simulation and the first person to find it will inherit his entire fortune and complete control over the Oasis itself.
Steven Spielberg is a master of his craft and has carved a career out of making game-changing movies.
From Jaws to E.T and Jurassic Park to Schindler’s List, Spielberg is the man behind so many benchmark movies that oftentimes it’s easy to forget just how pivotal of a figure he is within the world of cinema.
Well, at the tender age of 72, Spielberg is showing no signs of slowing down, delivering one of the most exhilarating, heartfelt and important blockbusters in recent memory.
Tye Sheridan plays Wade Watts, a young man from the slums of Columbus, Ohio who uses the Oasis as an escape from his home life.
In the Oasis, he is known as Parzival and he, along with his virtual friends Aech (Lena Waithe), Daito (Win Morisaki), Sho (Philip Zhao) and Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), are on the hunt for the hidden clues that will lead them to the elusive “Easter Egg” left behind by OASIS creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance).
This cast of young up-and-comers is fantastic and you are immediately hooked in to their journey and care about what happens to them.
With great chemistry, jovial personalities and playful banter, every moment spent with these characters is an absolute blast.
Once Spielberg has finished setting the stage and the plot begins to take on new and surprising layers, the film moves at a break-neck pace, going from strength to strength as it hurtles towards it’s exhilarating finale, which is equal parts action-packed and downright insane in its scale with so many pop culture references you’d literally have to pause every frame of the movie in order to take them all in.
One reference in particular, involving everybody’s favourite murderous ginger doll Chucky, caused the audience to erupt with laughter and it’s just one of many crowd pleasing moments littered throughout Ready Player One, which brings us to the man himself — Mr. Steven Spielberg.
As he always does, Spielberg brings his A-game here, never half-arsing his way through anything he does.
However, what sets Ready Player One apart from the vast majority of his more recent work is a sheer sense of fun and wonder.
This is quite easily the most playful we’ve seen Spielberg in over two decades and it really shows — its like he poured every ounce of his heart and soul into this project with the single goal of delivering a blockbuster so big and heartwarming that it would take audiences back to the way we felt the first time we watched some of his earlier works.
Do you remember the first time you watched E.T and how you felt when E.T and Elliot had to part ways? Do you remember the first time you watched Jurassic Park and how you felt when the T-Rex saved the day?
Do you remember the first time you watched Raiders of the Lost Ark and how you felt when Indiana Jones took out the acrobatic swordsman with a simple, no-nonsense pull of the trigger?
Well, Ready Player One is a movie full of moments like that. Moments that make your eyes well up or the hairs stand up on the back of your neck or moments that make you want to punch the air in sheer delight.
It’s fitting that in a story so consumed by nostalgia that Spielberg would take a nostalgic approach to his direction, too.
It’s a true credit to Spielberg’s genius. He truly is one of the best to ever do it.
Now, the film is set predominantly in a virtual world, so for obvious reasons there is a hell of a lot of CGI, but because Spielberg and company do such a good job in establishing the OASIS and what it is, it never feels like a chore to sit through.
You’re never left thinking; “this is just too much” because in the context of the film, it makes total sense…because the OASIS isn’t real.
It’s a credit to the film as a whole that it can immerse you in both the real world and the virtual world, sometimes simultaneously.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the visual effects on display here are cutting edge and will leave your eyes widened and your mouth agape on more than one occasion. It’s an absolute visual feast.
In the hands of a lesser filmmaker, Ready Player One could have been an exhausting, overstuffed and incoherent mess.
But in the masterful hands of Mr. Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One is something truly quite special.
By finding the emotional core of the movie and never losing focus of it, Spielberg takes us on a weird and wonderful journey through a world where anything is possible.
A world where you can be anything you want to be, but at a cost. You see, what Spielberg does so remarkably here is striking a perfect balance between depicting both the beauty and the perils of nostalgia and social media.
The beauty of what we can achieve through a virtual world, but the perils of what we can lose in the real world because of it.
Ready Player One is an unexpectedly timely allegory for modern life – a life so consumed by the internet and by social media that people often lose sight of who they are and why they are here.
By obsessing so much over what we see online, we forget to stop and take a look at what’s going on around us in the real world.
By focusing so much time on building relationships with people you have met online who live half way around the world, you forget to stop and appreciate the people who are right there in front of you.
Spielberg urges us to disconnect, even if just for a moment, in order to take in the beauty of the world around us because, after all — “reality is the only thing that’s real.”