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By Walker Edwards - Reporter. April 16, 2018 - 9:00 am
Ready Player One, the latest film from legendary director Steven Spielberg, succeeds by sticking to the tropes and emotional beats that characterized the 80s classics it pays tribute to. Those hoping for an action-packed, nostalgia-soaked thrill ride will not be dissapointed.
The film is set in a dystopian version of Columbus, Ohio where people derive most of their pleasure in life from adventures in a virtual reality world called ‘OASIS’. When the creator of OASIS dies, leaving his fortune and control of the virtual world to whoever can solve a series of hidden challenges, Wade Watts, played by Tye Sheridan, is determined to complete the tasks at any cost.
Ready Player One does not attempt to condemn escapes into virtual worlds or criticize the more vapid aspects of pop culture. Rather, it celebrates fan-favorite stories and characters while giving them new life working alongside the movie’s main characters. In one moment, the protagonist will all at once be driving the Back to the Future Delorean, fighting King Kong, and racing against Hello Kitty. This rapid fire presentation of tropes and characters would be overwhelming if it were not for Spielberg’s expert directing and a tight script, co-written by Ernest Cline, author of the original Ready Player One novel.
The film’s only troubles come when the characters leave OASIS. The sequences in the real world pale in comparison to the nonstop visual delights presented in the virtual world. The special effects in Ready Player One are spectacular, and when they are gone it seems an unwelcome absence.
Though most of the characters are memorable, a few are introduced only to disappear later without having made an impression. Mark Rylance gives a stand out performance as James Halliday, the eccentric creator of OASIS and the character the movie spends the most time examining.
Overall, Ready Player One is a highly enjoyable piece of shameless pop culture homage, likely to entertain children who hardly notice the countless references, as well as adults who may take pleasure in trying to spot them all. Spielberg’s touch as director elevates it above the herd of enjoyable action flicks that have come out this year by exploring the relationships between regret, loss and achievement through the characters of James Halliday and Wade Watts.
Ready Player One will please anyone looking to be visually dazzled and reminded of the joys of childhood escape into imaginary worlds. Spielberg’s love and respect for great stories of the past goes deeper than the obvious references shown on screen; it is infused into the emotional core of the story itself.