Ready Player One – Spielberg’s Got His ’80s Mojo Back


Set in Columbus, Ohio, 27 years into the future, the world has become overpopulated. While not a true dystopia, it’s certainly approaching that territory (Wade Watts lives in a town of camper vans piled on top of one other). While bandwidth riots and corn syrup droughts are mentioned, it isn’t particularly clear how the world became this way.

For most of its inhabitants, however, it’s a world from which they can’t wait to escape; and to do that, they have to plug into the OASIS: a virtual reality where anything and everything is possible. For any filmmaker asked to create such a world, it immediately becomes an enticing prospect. Enter Steven Spielberg.

Virtual nostalgia

The OASIS that the legendary director puts up on screen is visually stunning. Computer-generated graphics are almost constantly in play; which is allowed, considering it’s a fictional video game reality. It also offers enough realism to ensure that you don’t feel like you’re watching a big-budget cartoon. There are pop culture references throughout, although some are of a split second, so it will require waiting for the bluray and using freeze frame to spot them.

A gamer’s perfect movie

We have been seeing more and more convergence between film and gaming in recent years. The hand-held era has hugely contributed to this culture, with consumers being able to switch from one to the other readily on their mobile device. For example, they can be watching a movie on Netflix one minute before pausing it to go and play their favourite game. The game may be a traditional online game, such as Minecraft or Pokemon Go, or an online slot game like Rizk. Rizk is considered one of the best in 2018, and is a game that allows users to play for free, so it’s one that could easily delay consumers going back to watch that Netflix movie. Still, the option is there all the same. This convergence, coupled with a love of nostalgia, and the 80’s in particular, made this the perfect time for a movie such as Ready Player One.

Competing for the world

The story is based on a competition created by James Halliday. Halliday created the OASIS and announced the competition on his deathbed, in a bid to find his successor. He has hidden three keys in the virtual world, and the first to find them will be handed his fortune, as well as control over the VR world. The story jumps forward five years in time, with the first key yet to be found.

Yup! There are bad guys

Most of the players have simply given up, but Wade and co are still searching.  Nolan Sorrento, a CEO of a rival software firm hires an army of players to find the key on his behalf. As his endgame is to make as much money as he can from it, this isn’t a good thing. That’s especially the case, seeing as he intends to force players into debt to work in web-based labour camps called Loyalty Centres.

An ’80s boy’s dream

Spielberg deftly switches between the real and virtual worlds. There’s the occasional sidetrack, such as explaining what certain terms mean or why they exist in the story, but in the main, it’s an absolute pleasure to watch. The legendary filmmaker clearly revels in going back in time and paying homage to his 1980s roots. Any boy who grew up in that particular decade will be in awe when watching this movie over and over.

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