Ready Player One Review
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As both director and producer, Steven Spielberg was responsible for many of the most beloved adventures of the ‘80s. And he gets to revisit many of those classics in the dystopian sci-fi setting of his big screen adaptation of author Ernest Cline’s award-winning young adult novel, Ready Player One.

Ready Player One journeys from the bleak landscape of 2045’s Columbus, Ohio, to the dream world of the OASIS—a virtual universe where visitors can do and be anything they want. When the eccentric creator of the OASIS, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), dies, he leaves behind a series of challenges leading to a special Easter egg that gives full control of the OASIS—and his fortune—to the first player to find it. When Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) completes the first of three challenges, his avatar, Parzival, becomes a celebrity in the OASIS—but he also attracts the attention of the ruthless businessman who will stop at nothing to win.

With Ready Player One, Spielberg mixes the action and playfulness of classic ‘80s adventures with today’s effects. In life, James Halliday was lovably geeky—someone who lived his life in movies and cartoons and Atari video games—so his world is filled with familiar characters and props. Pay close attention, and you’ll find all kinds of familiar avatars—from He-Man to Freddy Krueger. The soundtrack is full of ‘80s favorites, and there are references to geeky favorites like The Shining and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And Parzival’s car? It’s the DeLorean from Back to the Future. And that’s just the beginning—because Ready Player One is a story about an Easter egg that’s absolutely loaded with Easter eggs of its own. One can just imagine Spielberg’s sheer joy in creating this imaginative pop culture universe. There are so many references here, in fact, that you’ll want to watch it over and over again just to find more.

But it’s not just about the pop culture references—which, admittedly, are so much fun that they can be distracting. Ready Player One tells an adventure-filled story about a group of young people who find the virtual world and the real world tangled up together by (who else?) a greedy, suit-wearing businessman who wants to rule them both. It’s a story about friendship, about technology, about taking leaps of faith, and about taking a stand for what’s important. And it’s all wrapped up in an eye-catching and creative package of imaginary worlds and striking effects. Admittedly, not everything here is fully developed—and, with its runtime exceeding two hours, the non-stop pacing can be exhausting. But it’s a big, thrilling popcorn flick that feels more like a summer blockbuster than a spring release.

Ready Player One is the kind of movie that you loved as a kid. It’s exciting and imaginative and just plain fun, complete with a playful sense of humor. While the characters may be young, the plethora of pop culture references make it something that older viewers will enjoy, too.

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