I am a child of the 80’s and 90’s, if that wasn’t apparent by the content on this blog then apparently I am not doing this justice. The 80’s and 90’s were filled with so many things that have come to define our very culture. Everything from common phrases like ‘re-gifting‘ to ‘Macgyvering‘ have become so common place that people do not remember that they came from popular television series of the past.
So, when Ernest Cline released the book Ready Player One as an homage to everything I loved from the 80’s, I was instantly entranced. The book had everything I loved in between two covers. It wasn’t a masterpiece, it certainly wasn’t Shakespeare but it was a deep dive into the nostalgia for my formative years and that was all I cared about. It was such a fun journey and one I am happy to have been a part of.
When it was announced that Steven Spielberg, Godfather of all 80’s awesomeness, was attached to make a movie based on a book that existed in large because of his films, I was excited. For Spielberg to go back to do something magical and fun again was something I could get behind. This weekend I went to see this film and wanted to share with you, my thoughts on the newest box office tentpole film, Ready Player One.
And for clarity’s sake, I will not be comparing this film to the book. I struggle with adaptations of things I enjoy so I will resist from any comparisons for the sake of letting the film stand alone on it’s own merits.
Ready Player One is about the future. A Future that, let’s be honest, is very much a possibility. This is a future where humanity as a whole has given up on the planet and their daily physical problems only to retreat into a computer generated land called, The Oasis.
The Oasis was created by a man named Halliday and, upon his death he released an easter egg in the form of an epic quest that, when found, would allow the discoverer to have complete control over this land of Oasis. Enter Wade Watts.
Wade is a kid (played by Tye Sheridan) who lives in a slum area of Illinois called The Stacks. (Literally trailers STACKED on top of one another). As the avatar Parzival, he Teams up with his buddy Aech, and is determined to find the easter egg before a giant conglomerate known as IOI finds it. When he finds the first key, with the help of his love interest Art3mis (played by Olivia Cooke), things start to get very interesting.
Now, all eyes are on Parzival and his band of friends known as the High Five. Literally risking his life and the existence of Oasis itself, Parzival and team must find the remaining two keys and claim the easter egg itself or the Oasis will fall into the hands of the evil mega-corporation IOI.
So, what did you think?
To start off, the actors do a tremendous job in their roles so much in fact that you completely forget you are watching an animated CG world for much of the film. As for the story, it is your typical fair of david and Goliath but with a dash of Willy Wonka thrown in for good measure.
This is a gorgeous film and, for anyone in their mid 30’s or 40’s it will be an immersive ride through amazing nostalgia. Spielberg is careful to not alienate the current viewers either by including modern popular culture such as Mine Craft and Overwatch, but it is clear that he felt free to let loose and play in the decades that made him who he is today. Everything is referenced, from obscure references to movies like Silent Running to subtle hints at tv series like Greatest American Hero. It also embraces the known entities like Akira and even horror classics like the Shining (which plays in a major, impressive, scene), so there is literally something in this film for everyone. Even the musical queues are reminiscent of some of the greatest scores of the 80’s and 90’s touching on Back To The Future, E.T. and many more. It is a trip down so many memory lanes that it will require an infinite number of viewings to drive down them all. It is abundantly clear that the people working on this film had fun with it and that joy and energy oozes through every frame.
The movie title itself is a reference to the arcade life of the80’s. Ready Player One stands for that moment that everyone my age had when they dropped a quarter into an arcade machine. It was a magical moment that can never be duplicated on a home console. Quarters were more valuable than gold to us back then and stepping into an Arcade was on par with Wade stepping into the Oasis. The Arcade was an escape from reality, a place where you could literally be anyone or anything you wanted. You could fly solo or team up with your friends on multiplayer games like TMNT or Street Fighter. For a brief moment, or however long your parents were in the mall, you found an escape and it was pure bliss.
Nowadays we have an escape through our consoles or gaming rigs at home. I play video games like any other person my age, having grown up on the arcade , the Atari, the NES and on, it is part of my DNA, part of my culture. There is still an option to play with others but you miss out on the physical contact with your friends as everyone is an avatar. The same can be said about social media and the like, everyone is anonymous and everyone is alone surrounded by everyone else. During the course of the film, Wade/Parzival realizes that it is just as important to team up inside the Oasis as it is to join forces in the real world. His very existence depends on him discovering the world beyond the Oasis.
That, as it turns out, is the true message of this film. Behind all of the pop culture, references and flashy graphics, behind the intense action and humorous lines, this is a film about rediscovering reality. About realizing that, outside of the screen, outside of your room, there is a real world with real people. While it is good to jump in and embrace your geeky side in a video game or a movie, the lesson here is that you shouldn’t forget about the people who are around you every day. As we left the theater today the world looked a little more vibrant. Almost as if it had received it’s very own graphical upgrade.
One fair warning, I promised I wouldn’t compare this film to the book and I won’t but, if you are a diehard fan of the book, seperate yourself from the source material and allow yourself to have fun. It is not a perfect adaptation but it shares a similar soul.
Thank you for reading, This is Late To The Game, signing off.
Late To The Game 4/1/2018
Thank you for reading today. I hope you enjoyed the review. If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also a complete review of Star Trek Discovery. We also have a fun Retro TV Review series in which we are currently reviewing the entire Star Trek The Next Generation Series, episode by episode.
As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these movies as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!