It may sound like hyperbole, but Steven Spielberg was born to direct Ready Player One. If Spielberg and Amblin hadn’t dominated the ’80s, Ready Player One wouldn’t exist. I haven’t read Ernest Cline’s novel yet, but as co-writer, Cline — along with Spielberg and co-writer Zak Penn — explodes the novel onto the big screen in the biggest way possible. If I could get away with a one word review it would be: “Spielbergasm.” Marvel may think they’ve cornered the market on Easter Eggs, but Ready Player One is one giant Easter Egg. Fittingly being released Easter weekend, this movie demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible (cough IMAX cough). The addition of 3D just makes the film even more immersive.
It’s 2045, and Wade Watts/Parzival (Tye Sheridan) lives in “The Stacks” of Columbus, Ohio with his aunt and the only escape from the world is through the OASIS: a virtual world where anyone can be anything they want and be anything they want. It all comes up for grabs after the death of its co-creator Halliday/Anorak (Mark Rylance). Promising fortune and glory, and full control of the OASIS, the whole world sets out to conquer “Anorak’s Quest” to hunt down Halliday’s deeply planted Easter Eggs. Calling upon some help from his friends — Art3mis/Samantha (Olivia Cooke), Aech/Helen (Lena Waithe), Sho (Philip Zhao), and Daito (Win Morisaki), aka the “High Five” — they set out to save the OASIS from the evil clutches of Innovative Online Industries (IOI) CEO Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). Sorrento unleashes I-R0k (T.J. Miller), F’nale Zandor (Hannah John-Kamen) and his debt-indentured Sixers to stop them.
Ready Player One is pure entertainment. From start to finish there’s no lag time. Spielberg, Cline, Penn, and their army of visual effects artists ensure you are never bored with your mind constantly titillated. It’s almost too much to handle at times. Thankfully, Spielberg knows how to control the chaos and pumps the brakes often enough to let you catch up. Then it’s off to the races again. The cast are having the time of their lives — Cooke, Mendelsohn, and Waithe are standouts — and Spielberg is working in hyper drive. And it shows with fun oozing from every frame. A midpoint sequence in particular showcases Spielberg’s love for OASIS.
There’s been some mention that Ready Player One looks down on pop culture fans, but this is a celebration of the last 30-plus years. Hilarious, heartfelt, surprising, jaw-dropping, action-packed, exhaustingly nostalgic. Ready Player One is the true spectacle we rarely get at the movies anymore and it’s no surprise Spielberg was the one to deliver. Even Alan Silvestri’s score is pure ’80s goodness. I have yet to read the novel, but having finally seen the film, I can hardly wait. I’ve heard the two split in very different directions, but Cline is already working on a sequel to the book. I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear about a sequel to the movie as well. I can’t wait to see what adventure they take us on next!