Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” is a deep, delirious dive into the happily shallow world of ’80s pop culture. It’s back to the future all over again in this story that unfolds in the 2040s, but flashes back to big-hair arena rock, Van Halen and all the “Chucky” jokes you want.
But mostly it’s a movie about video games and their gamers. And for more than two hours, it never lets up on the eye candy or the adventure.
Based on the best-seller, the story is set more than 25 years in the future, when everyone is plugged into the virtual-reality game, the Oasis. For most, it’s a necessary escape from an ugly, polluted world.
For some, though, it’s a chance to meet a real challenge: Solve three puzzles, win control of the game. And of the trillion-dollar company that owns it.
Wade Watts, a kid living in the slums of Columbus, Ohio, thinks he can do it. Nolan Sorrento, owner of the world’s second-biggest company, is determined to do it first.
And willing to do anything, including murder — virtual, or in real life.
For most of the movie we’re with Wade, and the friends and enemies he makes in that virtual world. We see avatars, not real people, pixelated fantasies, not actual settings. It’s like being trapped in a video game.
Or, maybe in a hundred vintage video games. The screen screams with shout-outs to Pong, Minecraft, and everything in-between. There are also guest appearances from “The Iron Giant, Batman and the Bee Gees.
The movie’s got the biggest collection of non-intellectual intellectual properties since “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Sometimes you wonder why they didn’t shoot the deal instead of the script. Once or twice, you may even wish they did.
Because, for all the fun, “Ready Player One” is a movie that cares a lot more about video games than the people who play them. For all the shouting, there’s not a lot at stake.
Wade doesn’t really want to change the world. He just wants to keep his virtual-reality world intact. It’s like a reboot of “The Matrix” except, this time — whoa — Neo wants to keep taking that blue pill.
But if we don’t get much chance to connect with Wade — played by a glum Tye Sheridan — there is some in-real-life humanity here.
Olivia Cooke is a warm presence as his fellow gamer, Art3mis. And while Ben Mendelsohn mostly recycles his limp villainy from ‘Rogue One,’ Spielberg’s current go-to character guy, Mark Rylance, is a delight as an eccentric cyber genius.
And the movie is crammed with excitement and good humor, from a rampaging King Kong to an orc with an attitude to an elaborate dip into “The Shining.” It all ends, of course, with a giant, all-avatars-on-deck apocalypse.
Well, actually, there’s another ending (or two) after that. Like almost every Steven Spielberg movie, the film goes on about 10 minutes too long. But it also, like almost every Steven Spielberg movie, leaves you completely satisfied.
And, after a minute, ready to play again.
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On – 27 Mar, 2018 By Stephen Whitty