The film Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline, is a sci-fi dystopian fantasy set in the year 2045.  At the beginning of the film, the audience is introduced to Wade Watts, a young man who, much like the rest of humanity, lives his life in a virtual world known as the OASIS. In this endless world, every person can look, act, and accomplish virtually anything that they desire.  When OASIS creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) dies, he leaves behind a video will that announces that any person who can figure out the Easter eggs that he has hidden in his game would be the heir to his fortune, as well as control over the OASIS as a whole.

Wade, whose avatar is called Perzival, after the Knight of the Roundtable who found the Holy Grail, sets out on a mission to accomplish this goal.  Joined by his friends AECHE and Art3mis (Olivia Cook), Wade attempts to win the game and relishes the moment. When he discovers that there a major corporation called IOI will stop at nothing to get the Easter eggs and control the program, Wade knows that he must win the game to save the lives of his friends.

Halliday’s creation is rife with references from his childhood, a nostalgic nod to many of the biggest movies and pop culture references from the 80s and 90s.  With appearances from characters and vehicles from films like Back to the Future, The Shining, Child’s Play, Voltron, and Godzilla to name a few, the film is a fun callback to the childhoods of many of the people in the audience.

The soundtrack to the movie also brings a very 80s feel to it, and as soon as Van Halen’s “Jump” starts playing over the opening credits, the action does not stop.  The battle scenes are very well done and feel like a first person shooter game, and the action is fun. Spielberg’s direction is on point, with relatable characters who are well-developed throughout.

It is interesting to see how the story develops through Halliday’s mind, and seeing Perzival/Wade navigate through the OASIS to figure out what is behind his biggest accomplishment.  As the friends grow closer and the story unravels, that is when the fun begins.

The supporting characters are great, and Ben Mendelsohn plays a very hateable villain as Surrento, the head of the IOI.  Simon Pegg plays Ogden Morrow, Ogden’s former partner, as a harbinger and a mysterious character. Supporting characters Philip Zhou as Sho and  Win Moraskai has Daito are also great. The always funny T.J. Miller voices the virtual hitman IR0c is great as a bumbling villain hellbent on victory.

The movie is timely, as so many people today find an escape in a virtual reality world.  People could say it is a commentary on the reliance of technology that numbs people to the real world, or the power it has to enable people to be themselves and interact with others.

The real world actors who play voice the avatars bring a lot of depth to the characters.  Spielberg has mastered this art so many times that it seems seamless. Once the virtual reality cross into the real world, the games change and the action gets better, and the audience can empathize with all of the characters.

The film seems like one that should be a summer blockbuster, but somehow got pushed into a March release.  Seeing it in theaters will bring those of us who are 90’s kids a flashback to our childhood and anyone younger an idea of the iconic movies that changed the game.  I would definitely recommend seeing this one in theaters before it leaves the big screen.

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