Last night was the press screening of the new Steven Spielberg film ‘Ready Player One‘ based on the book by author Ernie Cline. This movie has been highly anticipated ever since it was announced that it was being made and if ever a director was a good fit for helming a film, it’s definitely Spielberg and it’s definitely for this film! For those unfamiliar with the premise, the story takes place in the future (the year 2045 to be exact) where the entire population engages in a virtual reality world called The Oasis in order to escape the drudge of real life with it’s overpopulation, pollution, poverty, etc. When the creator of The Oasis, James Halliday (played by Mark Rylance) dies, he reveals that he has hidden an Easter Egg in the game that, when discovered, will grant the winner his entire fortune as well as full control of The Oasis! The race is on (literally!) as everyone seeks to find clues that will lead them to this Easter Egg. A corporation known as IOI headed by Nolan Sorrento (portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn) wants control of The Oasis for themselves in order to complete their stranglehold on the populace. However, the first person to break on to the leader board is not one of IOI’s “sixer” workers, but lone player & Halliday super-fan Wade Watts (actor Tye Sheridan) who goes by the avatar Parzival. Now with the 1st of 3 keys in his possession, he becomes the target of IOI who will stop at nothing to make sure that they are the ones to win “Anorak’s Quest” (Halliday’s in-game avatar) and gain complete control of The Oasis.
Full disclosure: I may be a bit biased as this movie was made for someone like me. I’m in my early 40’s, I love video games, I grew up seeing the movies that are referenced in this film (and there are a LOT of them), I am an 80’s fan so, yes, this movie hit on everything I love and hold dear. Even with that being said, this movie is outstanding and would be enjoyed by anyone! Older people will appreciate the nods to items like King Kong and the Batmobile from the ’66 Batman series, younger fans will love the action and VR aspect of the movie which will seem as incredible & futuristic to them as the notion of ‘Knight Rider‘ seemed to those of us who grew up in the 80’s and those who are right around my age will love seeing the Delorean from ‘Back To The Future‘ and hearing “Jump” by Van Halen. The run time of 2 hours 20 minutes flew by before I knew what had happened as my brain struggled to catch all of the visual gems which were replete throughout the film.
As a fellow reviewer pointed out as we discussed the film after last night’s screening – It’s almost mind-boggling to think that the same director responsible for the very serious and almost academic film ‘The Post‘ which came out earlier this year, is also the man who directed a mind-blowingly fantastical joyride of a film like ‘Ready Player One’. This only further proves beyond doubt that Steven Spielberg is deservedly one of Hollywood’s greatest directors! I found myself grinning profusely during the opening race sequence, at the “Staying Alive” dance scene, during the cast’s VR exploration of ‘The Shining‘ world and every part in between! Through the magic of Spielberg’s movie making, I was once again that little 7 year old boy watching Elliott and his friends fly in front of the moon with E.T. , filled with the same wonder and excitement I felt watching Indiana Jones escape The Temple Of Doom and cheering on the hero like I did when Peter Pan finally realized who he was as he battled Hook! Steven Spielberg has a unique style of directing that can be tangibly felt in much the same way other truly great directors like Hitchcock, Soderbergh & del Toro have with their work and this film was almost like a love letter from Spielberg to his fans. The showing that I went to was standard format but I am very excited to see how it looks in a 3D setting (something I will be undertaking this weekend when the film is released.). It bears mentioning that the entire cast never missed a beat and was totally up to the task of selling this film with vigor and conviction! Olivia Cooke (aka: Art3mis), Lena Waithe (aka: Aech), Simon Pegg (Ogden Morrow) & Hannah john-Kamen (F’nale) were all outstanding while never being over-the-top which, in a movie like this one, could have possibly happened. A solid story, great cast and rock-steady directing allows this film to LEVEL UP and become the very first movie which I have ever scored as a perfect 10 out of 10!!! This is one that you will need to see in theaters and, if you want to try to catch all of the Easter Eggs, that you’ll need to see at least 2 or 3 times!!!