OK, you got me. I’m gonna adress this elephant in the room, right here, right now.
I haven’t read Ready Player One.
I wasn’t even aware of the novel by Ernest Cline (whom my brain stubbornly insist on calling Ernest Borgnine. Why? I don’t know! There isn’t a single black combat helicopter in the damn book!). I only found out about it when El Spielbergo started production on the movie of the book. Then I found out that I should’ve been aware of it, seeing as it’s brimming with pop culture references from things close to my nostalgia-filled core.
And then I forgot about it.
The thing with nostalgia-filled cores is that they tend to have memory problems. Every single bit of free space being filled with nostalgia and all that.
But fret not, dear readers, as I now hold the movie in my hand! And I plan on watching it, right now!
For those of you who, like me, have been living under a nostalgia-heavy rock (enough with the nostalgia already! –ed.) the plot is fairly straightforward. The year is 2045. The world has gone to crap, but everyone is playing a real cool immersive VR game called OASIS. In it, you can be and do anything you want. The game’s eccentric creator, James Halliday, died years ago and revealed he’d hidden a special easter egg in OASIS. Anyone who finds the egg, gets Halliday’s stock in the company, making the winner the sole owner of OASIS. Enter teen Wade Watts. He happens to find the first clue and in doing so, sets off a massive race to the easter egg. Joined by his friends, he’ll have to do anything to keep the easter egg from falling into the hands of rival company IOI.
There. Standard plot, set up, characters. In the hands of the right director, this could be an enjoyable actionflick. In the hands of the Spielmeister it becomes so much more. Spielberg manages to add that spielbergian touch to the film that makes it transcend its generic story. The millions of easter eggs, nods, visual references and callbacks to popular franchises from other films are enjoyable on their own, but when they’re added with such a loving touch… Example: earlier in the film, it is mentioned that Halliday’s favourite music video is Aha’s Take On Me. “Great,” you think, “another reference to a song from the eighties! Nice one.” But is goes so much further than that. When Wade and his love interest have to escape some nasty IOI goons, Spielberg lets them do so in a way that mirrors the bit in the Aha video where the girl and the pencildrawn dude escape some goons. Blink and you’ll miss it, but when you see it…
So there’s a cool story, with added spielbergian touches and millions of easter eggs. But does the movie deliver beyond these three given things? I think it does. We get decent acting (Ben Mendelsohn is terrific), believeable CGI and a fantastic score made up of original music (with occasional musical cue references of its own) and songs from the eighties. Honestly, I wasn’t bored a single minute of the movie’s lengthy 2 hours and 20 minutes runtime, and I’m ready for a second viewing to catch the hundreds of easter eggs I missed on the first go.
So yeah, I’m convinced. Great movie. Consider my nostalgia-levels replenished. What? Have I read the book yet? What book?