Review By Allie Hanley

The theater screen isn’t quite big enough to contain all the fun to be had in Steven Spielberg’s latest thrill ride, “Ready Player One,” in theaters now.

Based on Austin native Ernest Cline’s fun read of the same title, “Ready Player One (RPO)” is part roller coaster ride and part moral road map of what could happen if greed has its way with the internet.

It’s 2045, and much like today, people escape their hum-drum lives not by playing with their cell phone and taking incessant selfies, but by logging into an all consuming virtual reality, called The OASIS, where you can be anyone or anything.

Futurist and designer of The OASIS, James Halliday, has passed away. Before he left, he devised a plan to leave control of his vast fortune and controlling shares of The Oasis to the winner of a contest he designed inside of The Oasis. Think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, except bigger.

The stakes are high and a corporation called IOI is determined to win the contest by employing a vast amount of people to crack the code and win the game so that they can ultimately control The OASIS and fill it with advertising, and charge people a premium to utilize it. The main protagonist is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), and he is determined to figure out the clues and conquer the challenges so that he can claim the ultimate prize, retire rich, and help his family out. Once he meets gamer Art3mis and bumps heads with IOI, those goals change.

Fans of the original novel will notice the story diverges 15 minutes in as the film takes a different route. Some will say it’s better, most will say the book is always better than the film – in this case I agree. However, there is just so much fun to be had in the film that it truly stands on its own two feet, and one reason is the film version makes wise choices that ultimately play out on the screen perhaps better than an exact adaptation would have. Spielberg and his team made smart choices in taking the story and picking the best parts, and making a longer film rather than a two-film outing and a bloated story such as Peter Jackson’s “Hobbit” trilogy.

“Ready Player One” will undoubtedly win the hearts of 80’s fans young and old based solely on the Easter Eggs that abound throughout the film. Exciting visuals take film goers on a cinematic journey into what could possibly be the near future and paints a warning of what could happen when the mighty dollar rules the internet. Performances from the actors mostly play out especially well including villain Ben Mendelsohn. His performance gives the film an aura of just enough danger and high stakes that when the heroes come through you breathe a sigh of relief.

RPO plays well on the big screen but time will tell if it has the resonance of earlier films of Spielberg’s that have stood the test of time, including “ET” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Regardless, it will no doubt be one of the biggest films of the year and will undoubtedly have many seeing it multiple times just for the nostalgia of seeing so many beloved characters from years gone by.

“Ready Player” Fun will be generating extra lives/ repeat viewings from young and old and should be enjoyed in a theater.

4 out of 5

Rating:
PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language)
Genre:
Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Steven Spielberg
Written By:
Zak Penn, Ernest Cline
In Theaters:
Mar 29, 2018 Wide
Runtime:
140 minutes
Studio:
Warner Bros. Pictures

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