A blast from the past with a futuristic twist – Steven Speilberg’s Ready Player One is the virtual reality world that everyone wants to live in.
It’s the year 2045, and Columbus, Ohio is a far cry from the state capital of 2018. Destroyed by global warming, poverty and everything in between, the future is far less shiny than what anyone hoped it would be; but there’s one thing that’s holding everyone together and that’s the OASIS.
Created by James Halliday, the OASIS is an immersive Virtual Reality game that screams ‘Final Fantasy‘, where everyone escapes the real world and builds their dream life through their own avatar, but when Halliday passes away and leaves the world heartbroken, he leaves them a challenge in the game that no-one is yet to complete.
It’s a simple premise really, complete three challenges to gain a key, which unlocks a clue to the next task. The first player to complete all three tasks will be presented with an Easter Egg which entitles them to inherit all of Halliday’s fortune and complete rule of the OASIS.
It’s here that we meet Wade Watts, a 20-year-old living with his auntie in ‘The Stacks’, a trailer park where homes are stacked on top of one another. He knows everything there is to know about his Halliday, his favourite movie, his most famous quotes, his favourite video games – and he’s determined to become the very first player of Halliday’s Easter Egg hunt with a futuristic twist using his avatar Parzival.
But Wade’s not the only one determined to get his hands on Halliday’s multi-million fortune; corporate players the IOI, lead by Nolan Sorrento, are after the goods too. The deceptive players within the OASIS, their avatars don’t have names and go only by numbers, and when Sorrento discovers Wade’s true identity, their hunt begins to track him down and knock him off the leaderboard.
Based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel, Ready Player One is packed with adventure, spectacular visuals, witty humour and a soundtrack that – dare I say it – rivals that of Guardians of the Galaxy‘s, with a mash-up of everything from Hall & Oates to Duran Duran and Van Halen; music alone is one of the many references that younger viewers won’t quite resonate with, but older viewers will soak up.
Speilberg is, after all, the master of movies; the man behind some of the biggest films of all time including Jurassic Park, E.T. and Schindler’s List, his latest creation is no different. And one of the best parts is, Speilberg chose to film multiple scenes of this action-packed movie here in Birmingham on the streets of Digbeth and Jewellery Quarter. They’re not ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moments either, unlike the 20-second snippets that were clipped into the Kingsman franchise.
Brilliantly clever, the transition between the CGI world of the OASIS to the dark, soulless streets of Columbus, you can only wonder whether Speilberg is trying to do just more than make a movie here. The reality is that the present world is encased by virtual reality and the threats of global warming are continuing to breathe down our kneck each and every day.
Whilst Ready Player One does shine a positive light on the world of Virtual Reality and the ways of meeting people through it, there’s also the dark side of not knowing if someone really is so they say they are. It’s a lengthy film too running at two hours and 20 minutes, but with a continuous run of fast-paced car chases and challenges with retro references from The Shining to The Iron Giant and Back to the Future.
Ready Player One may be Speilberg’s a complete switch up from 2017’s drama The Post, it’ll have you laughing one minute and gripping onto the arms of your chair the next, but it’s clear that the inner child of one of the finest filmmakers of all time is the reason why this movie will appeal to so many. Awe-inspiring and enticing, this is a movie well worth the price of a cinema ticket.
Ready Player One is released in UK cinemas on Thursday, March 29.