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John Batchelor


‘Ready Player One’ is a great work of the imagination

I think the world is quite ready for “Ready Player One.” I give it 3.5/4 stars. The movie delivers everything people would want and a great deal more. It is loaded with pop culture references and presents visually-inventive sequences. This is a movie people will go see again, and again. And it will add substantially to the already glowing and growing filmography of Steven Spielberg.

“Ready Player One” is based on a successful 2011 novel and takes place in 2045. Of course, it’s a dystopian future where people have nothing to live for in the real world. So they choose to live in this corporate-created, alternate universe which is a video game called the “Oasis.”

The story has overtones of having our eyes on our phones all the time, or escaping into virtual reality.

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Like a lot of Spielberg’s older films, there are very few big name actors. Lead actor Tye Sheridan doesn’t light up the marquee, for example. But it doesn’t matter because it’s Spielberg.

Sheridan is Wade, a young man living a destitute, miserable existence. But he has great existence in this alternate reality of the Oasis. The creator of the Oasis is like a Steve Jobs – a mystical genius. He has died, but he left behind this game. He left challenges, various “eggs” in the Oasis. Anybody who captures those eggs will be able to take over the Oasis will get a trillion dollars in wealth. They will basically become the most powerful person on Earth.

Everybody has become so addicted to playing games and living in virtual reality — for love, excitement, and gratification. They’ve become indentured servants to this to this evil corporation headed by a sleazy character. Wade on the other hand is a pretty nerdy guy, a bit overweight. His avatar in the Oasis is handsome with a shock of blonde hair, and young. Of course, he falls in love inside this alternate reality.

In the novel, this all happens in Oklahoma City. But the movie is set in Columbus, Ohio. It’s now the biggest city in the world. People live in what is called “the stacks” — trailers stacked on top of each other. People live in their trailers and play video games all day.

“Ready Player One” is funny, inventive, and visually stunning. The set and production designs are brilliant. Do I think it’s meaningful or has some important social commentary, or predicts what the world will be like in 2045? No. There’s very little of that.

This is Spielberg’s gift. It’s been his gift since his early movies. He can lock you into a story, however silly or incredible it may be, and carry you along. This movie, in particular, is enriched by all kinds of pop culture references. This is a great work of the imagination.

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