“Ready Player One” marks a return to blockbuster form for Steven Spielberg to the genre he helped invent and reinvent. Filled with an endless supply of nostalgic charm, this movie will bring out your inner geek in more ways than one.
That, in itself, is both good and bad.
The movie is set in Cleveland in the year 2045 and revolves around a kid named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) who plays a virtual reality game that allows him to live in a world known as the OASIS. People enter the OASIS using avatars and can use it for virtually every aspect of life.
The founder of the game (Mark Rylance) dies and leaves Easter eggs that are three keys hidden in the game and whoever finds all three will inherit control of the game.
Olivia Cooke costars as a character named Art3mis who joins Wade to find the keys, but she may end up becoming his competition. Then again they may fall in love. Who knows?
Ben Mendelsohn is Nolan Sorrento, a corrupt CEO rival who wants to find the keys himself.
The plot can occasionally be all over the map, but that’s not exactly why we go to see it, do we? We’re in it for all those pop culture references and there are enough to make your head spin. Where do I begin? Of course, Spielberg gives some not-so-subtle nods to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Jurassic Park.” Not to mention, the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” making a few appearances. It’s amazing that Batman doesn’t pop up. Oh, yeah, I forgot. He does. You can end up climbing Mt. Everest with him.
Perhaps the most wild and memorable scene is when Wade and Art3mis enter the world of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” and have to find their way out of that terrifying maze and avoid Jack Nicholson’s dreaded ax.
The movie is filled with dazzling imagery and sensational sequences that should be experience in IMAX, but the story and its 140 minute run time keep it from being as terrific as we had hoped. There’s so many needless complications during the second and third acts and it has a tendency to embrace the silly, but for each time we start feeling exasperated by the convolutions, there’s more pop culture to add energy and style.
Spielberg once again proves he’s in a class by himself and this movie is definitive evidence he hasn’t lost his touch in the wonderment department. If only the material was executed in a similar fashion to his visuals.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta hop in the DeLorean while a T-Rex chases after me.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.