Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of “Ready Player One,” Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name, manages to be both coldly dystopian and wildly entertaining.
In the real world, cities have become structurally worn away by humanity having become addicted to a virtual reality program called OASIS and having stopped caring for real-world architecture.
In OASIS, there is a world of possibilities limited only by the imagination of the user.
The film’s plot centers around Wade Watts, a teenager living in a rundown Columbus, Ohio.
Wade explains to the audience via voiceover that he grew up in poverty after people ceased to tend to cities.
An avid OASIS player, he wishes to solve a series of puzzles that will grant him the rights to OASIS and half a trillion dollars, thus providing him with enough money to buy a better life.
Along the way, playing under the name Parzival, Wade encounters more than his share of pop-culture-oriented thrills, — racing across Manhattan in the DeLorean only to be stopped by King Kong, venturing through Stanley Kubrick’s version of “The Shining” centered on OASIS owner and co-founder James Halliday (Mark Rylance), teaming up with a virtual-world technology designer (Lena White) who builds the Iron Giant and fights a robotic Godzilla.
Admittedly, at least a couple of these references don’t make sense when one considers the film’s target demographic; most teens are unlikely to understand the film’s multiple references to mid-20th century classic films such as “Citizen Kane” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Nevertheless, “Ready Player One” offers the exact sorts of thrills its premise promises.
Between its action scenes and the increasingly intriguing puzzles its characters must face in order to receive the fortunes promised by Halliday, the film grows only more interesting as the story advances.
Certainly, this isn’t the film to watch if one wishes to become emotionally invested in a character, nor is it likely to win an Oscar in any category, and it’s certainly a far cry from “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan,” two of Spielberg’s most famous works, having a much more casual feel to it than either of those two films. Still, as a popcorn flick, “Ready Player One” is a good watch.
For those interested in viewing “Ready Player One,” it can be found on the film’s IMDB page.
Cal Sylvia can be contacted at