Directed by Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” is a busy sci-fi adventure punctuated by dark atmospheres and cathartic agitation in the form of wild action sequences filled with flashy, rowdy, and usually tiresome battles. The script, co-penned by Zac Penn and Ernest Cline, was based on the latter's 2011 novel of the same name. Despite the intelligent story, which alerts for current concerns about the addictive power of the ‘unreal’ world of the Internet and video games, the film’s visuals are hyper-saturated, assaulting our brain with the same uncontrolled trepidation as when you loop vertically on a rollercoaster.
Set in 2045, the story follows Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), an 18-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, who lives fascinated with an immersive virtual world called The Oasis, where he is one of the many compulsive players. As a place of the imagination, the Oasis allows you to be who you want to be, do anything, and go anywhere under the guise of an avatar. That way, you can feel every emotion of the experience while escaping from the desolation of the planet.
Our hero chose the Arthurian figure Parzival as his imaginary incarnation, here depicted with a David Bowie-ish hairstyle. He is prepared to plunge into a gaming contest in the Oasis that can change his life forever. The creator of the massively popular game was the venerated James Halliday (Mark Rylance), a quirky dreamer whose posthumous message to the world stated that his fortune and control of The Oasis would be given to the winning player of The Quest, a tough multi-phased contest. With the support of his team, The High-Five, Wade will explore many unknown and dangerous places, as well as fighting personal battles on both sides, the virtual and the real.
The competition will also serve as a rebellion to free the Oasis from the hands of Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the cunning CEO of a video game company, and his evil allies i-R0k (T.J. Miller) and F'Nale Zandor (Hannah John-Kamen), bounty hunter and operations assistant, respectively. In addition to the challenge, an extra motivation turns up when Wade falls for Samantha Cook (Olivia Cooke), the clouded woman behind the well-known player Art3mis, even before seeing her real face.
The film makes a nostalgic cult to the 70's and 80's, giving it a special flavor. An amazing soundtrack, rich pop-culture elements, and a horrifying recreation of Kubrick's “The Shining” with bloodbath and everything, are some of the good aspects you'll find.
It’s understandable that Spielberg wants to ride the fashion waves of trendiness, after the sobriety and formalism of meritorious dramas such as “Lincoln”, "Bridge of Spies", and “The Post”. However, he does with sensorially exhausting pyrotechnics. In the end, I couldn’t agree more with Halliday: “the real world is the only place you can get a decent meal.” Maybe there’s some truth in the film's tech prognostication, but for now, I rather focus on our planet, where huge problems have urgently to be fixed. Especially when the virtual world depicted wasn’t so attractive.