Thursday, March 29, 2018


Ready Player One

Ready Player One official site The legendary writer-director Steven Spielberg has made many films in the past which became significant fixtures in American pop culture. From "Jaws" (1975) to "E.T." (1982), from "Schindler's List" (1993) to "The Post" (2017), his films range from delightful entertainments to thought-provoking intellectuals pieces. With virtual reality (VR) gaining popularity in recent years, he dives into the fun of VR games through the bulky eye-wear in "Ready Player One" (USA 2018 | 140 min.). He playfully takes us into a colorful virtual reality world while nodding to various pop-culture icons in the '70s and '80s, including many characters in his own films.

The film is set in a dystopian Columbus, Ohio in 2045. Giving up their lives in reality, almost everyone is wearing a VR eye-wear and appears to be an avatar in a virtual reality world called OASIS, created by the late gifted game-creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance). Although he is already dead, his legacy lives on in OASIS. Before his death, he hid an Easter Egg in OASIS and the gamers need to find three keys in order to find the egg. Whoever gets the egg will also inherit Halliday's fortune. The game of egg is on.

One of the egg-hunting contenders is a teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) who sleeps on top of a washing machine and slides in between piles of junk cars to get out of his trailer into a van. Once he gets into the van and puts on his VR wear, he becomes an aviator Parzival in OASIS, driving a DeLorean from "Back to the Future" (1985). During an exhilarating car racing scene involving King Kong and dinosaurs from Jurassic Park (1993), he befriends an aviator on motorcycle Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) whose real-life name is Samantha. With the help from another giant iron-man aviator Aech (Lena Waithe), they make some progress in searching for those mysterious keys, and they are joined later by Daito (Win Morisaki) and 11-year-old Sho (Philip Zhao).

But of course, they are not the only ones in the pursuit of the egg. The villain in the game is Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the head of a gaming corporation called Innovative Online Industries (IOI) who wants to control OASIS. The VR game battle among the rivals is intensely played out on the giant IMAX screen in 3D, while the human drama in real life unfolds as a side plot monitored by drones.

Ready Player One Official Site

Even if you are not a big computer gamer, you will appreciate the immersive experience that Steven Spielberg creates in the film. You might gain some understanding about why so many people are addicted to the computer games, especially when they are played in a VR environment. You can truly be anyone you want in a fantasy world and completely escape from reality.

Obviously, Steven Spielberg is having as much fun as the viewers watching the film. Among the numerous pop culture references in to music and cinema, the most amusing moment takes place when the aviators revisit the sets in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" (1980), including the haunted Room 237. You definitely should get a refresher on "The Shining" before watching this film.

Compared to some other films by Steven Spielberg, "Ready Player One" is a much lighter-weight project without compromising its dazzling visuals. The storyline may be easily forgotten, but its appeal of drawing more youngsters to a gaming world might linger much longer.

"Ready Player One," opens on Thursday, March 29, 2018.

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