If you’re looking to enter a world of pure imagination then there’s no better place to do it than in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One. This cinematic blockbuster offers a unique vision of the future, while also exploring the love for the pop-culture of the past in a way that will fill your heart with joy and take you on a VR trip into a breathtaking world beyond your wildest dreams.
Set in the near future, Ready Player One follows the adventures of Wade Watt aka Parzival (Tye Sheridan) as he steps inside the virtual reality landscape known as the Oasis. There he seeks to win an astonishing prize left behind by the world’s creator James Donovan Halliday (Mark Rylance).
When you think of cinema one name immediately comes to mind: Steven Spielberg. Since 1971’s Duel this cinematic genius has brought us incredible feats of visual storytelling that have helped us escape into far away universes and introduced us to amazing characters that have become a staple of the pop-culture landscape and who still bring us feelings of joy, happiness, suspense and marvel. Now Speilberg returns to the big screen with a blockbuster adaptation of Ernest Cline’s modern-day cult classic novel that was as much a homage to the work of Spielberg as it was a celebration of video game culture and those who love them.
In short Spielberg’s decision to direct Ready Player One is a match made in heaven and the film greatly benefits from his directorial eye. Not only does he have the ability to handle The Oasis’ grand feats of visual spectacle, but he roots the film in a world that is not unlike our own with characters who are experiencing real problems and who within The Oasis are searching for something better. This balance can be attributed to a master storyteller like Spielberg who is now regarded as one of the elder statesmen of the cinematic art form and who continues to inject passion and meaning into his work. In my own opinion this film could not have lived up to its promise had it not been for Spielberg’s guiding hand and his presence creates something truly extraordinary.
If you’re a pop-culture fiend like myself, then, well, YOU’LL LOVE READY PLAYER ONE! This film is simply a dream come true and takes everything you’ve ever loved about film, TV, video games and the 1980s and throws it all into a melting pot of extraordinary visual imagery. With every reference conceivable form Back to the Future to Overwatch present, you’ll find yourself trying to tick off your own mental list of your favourite characters. This distinctive pop-culture shapes the film’s narrative, and most importantly it’s three tasks. The way these are constructed are incredibly interesting and recall those moments that have shaped our lives from an entertainment point-of-view.
Spielberg employs some incredible visual effects to realize The Oasis and it’s awesome to see how he re-interprets the film’s source material within this crazy VR world. One moment you’ll be howling with adrenaline and the next you’ll be cowering in fear as The Oasis comes alive in front of you.
But while spectacular visual effects abound before us, it’s Spielberg’s focus on his characters that really make this film so watchable. Tye Sheridan is a completely relatable hero as Wade Watts/Parzival who takes it upon himself to follow the quest to find the hidden Easter Egg and who in doing so bears a direct reference to Sir Percival and the Grail Legend.
Wade is an all cases an everyman hero who through his quest learns to trust others, finds romance and accomplishes something truly remarkable. His journey completely references that of the classic Monomythic Structure conceived by Joseph Campbell and Sheridan really gives himself to crafting a fantastic performance.
While having a relatable hero is one key ingredient to the narrative of Ready Player One, Spielberg also examines the theme of reality and fantasy. This is scene very literally in the crumbling reality that Wade lives in and the imaginative world of The Oasis that he regularly and almost obsessively escapes to.
Spielberg explores how fantasy can be very fulfilling, it is ultimately reality that truly matters and the journey that Wade and his friends take to learn this fact is extremely thought-provoking. Ready Player One has been released at a very interesting moment in our cultural history and it offers a fascinating mirror to look at our current digital practices.
But while there are some major thought-provoking themes at the heart of Ready Player One it is ultimately an enthralling cinematic blockbuster that is just a blast to watch. It’s everything you could ever want out of a blockbuster and I implore you to watch this film on the biggest screen possible. Pop-culture has never been this much fun, and when it’s synth credits begin to roll, well, you’ll be grooving out like it’s 1985 and you’ve just stepped out of a DeLorean DMC-12.
Image: Roadshow Films