Twenty-seven years from today, a major corporation creates a new video game setup showing VR possibilities where only the sky limits places of potential excursion. Appropriately enough, Ready Player One is a giant Easter egg full of smaller Easter eggs on Easter weekend, starting with a Minecraft level as just one relatively small section of a huge digital game called, the “Oasis.”
Coming from Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg, the adaptation from Ernest Cline’s novel indeed becomes “Spielbergified,” since he appropriately met his popularity height throughout the seventies and eighties, which most influences the culture of Cline’s written Oasis. Inside Spielberg’s cinematic roller coaster, MTV music sucks you in right away, leading into the first few shots that travel across the homes’ windows of 2045 Columbus, Ohio to visualize living situations in what resembles a single continuous take, a term unique to his work dubbed a “oner.”
Columbus’s “stacks” build up this future suburb with trailers stacked upon one another, perhaps topping six stories in homes; most of the inhabitants sleeping on washing machine beds. The square shapes suggest imprisonment, unexpectedly absent of red or green hues, since nobody living here can win or lose in the video game corporation’s alternate competitive materiality. Spielberg makes everything huge in scale as you fly through the immersive 3D excitement; pure CGI permits a car race to Central Park, just one of three challenges to obtain one of three keys the Oasis’ creator has hidden.
Hitherto, nobody ever found a key, so those competitors, driving in instantly recognizable automobiles including a DeLorean and Adam West Batman’s Batmobile, must face a racetrack overrun by a T-Rex and King Kong. Honestly, this may be our future of gaming: the player walks on an omnidirectorial treadmill while their customized avatar roams the Oasis. Because humans gave up on solving problems, the Oasis lets players do anything, go anywhere; until watching the players fight against nonexistent problems disturbs you.
However, once the nostalgic surplus is forgotten, you must watch selfish individuals throw in random Marvel-style humor. Consequently, the political structure allows kids to somehow outsmart government authorities because apparently, adolescent empowerment tops priority above plot authenticity. Instead, an anti-Marxist piece enforces itself by blasting, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to the volume of “Fight the Power” in Do the Right Thing. Despite uses of a clever Clark Kent disguise, these amateur players seldom prepare themselves in a sympathetic manner—one says he never saw The Shining, an important detail for when it gets said, and is played more for laughs than to make these guys seem like they’re equipped to overthrow the authorities.
The book’s author who adapted it, alongside Zak Penn (The Avengers), saw an excuse to throw Halo soldiers into a The Lord of the Rings climax but gave no characters a gradually learnt knowledge across the film’s runtime. Three of them, including the protagonist’s almost absent aunt, felt completely useless— some even sputtered Shia Labeouf’s “nononononono” on numerous occasions. Hence, several deus ex machinas extinguish a disco dance’s full visual impact midway through, a weak buildup due also to the whole first five minutes being pure voiceover narration. Since the most memorable scenes were in the trailer, teenage boys might see little rewatch value in such an ego-stroking Atari love-letter, ultimately set to deliver only whatever bland predictability was built up before frame number one.
Though Simon Pegg gives a brief yet decent performance, none of the other actors display a sense of urgency in the eyes, including one twelve-year-old kid who acts just like any other child in a huge movie. Highly doubtful anyone his age could notice the R-rated feature cameos anyway, like Chuckie and Robocop, proving why this feature should have just aimed strictly for adult viewers.
Rather than contemplate on how nostalgia halts our humane evolution, most young audiences will instead think, “OMG! The Millennium Falcon! Look! A huge castle! I wanna go there myself!” Especially since plot coincidences blur realism and digitalism, home seems dulled down, unlike the infinite technological possibilities. Why would Spielberg expect credibility in his message if his virtual universe here appears ultimately more fascinating than reality? That explains why youth culture for the most part approves of Ready Player One: it tells them to live inside an illusion, compels them with a misleading “moral,” then runs off with the theatergoer’s gullible gold coins in hand.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Grady, Constance. “The Ready Player One backlash, explained.” Digital image. Vox. Vox Media, 26 Mar 2018. Web. <https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/3/26/17148350/ready-player-one-book-backlash-controversy-gamergate-explained>.
Nathalie. “The Spielberg Oner: How Spielberg Uses “Wallflower” Long Takes in His Films.” Mentorless. Web. <https://www.mentorless.com/2014/05/09/spielberg-oner-watch-spielberg-uses-wallflower-long-takes-films/>.
Ready Player One. Warner Bros. Web. <http://readyplayeronemovie.com/>.
Trujillo, Jesus Leal; Tuesday, Joseph Parilla. “The World’s 10 Fastest Growing Metropolitan Areas.” Brookings. The Brookings Institution, 10 Feb 2015. Web. <https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2015/02/10/the-worlds-10-fastest-growing-metropolitan-areas/>.