Fight for OASIS

Olivia Cooke as Samantha and Tye Sheridan as Wade appear in a scene from Ready Player One.

WHILE reading Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One, it became very clear that there was only one director who could turn this book into a movie. Fortunately, Warner Bros. felt the same way.

The idea of Steven Spielberg directing a movie so rooted in the nostalgia of the 70s, 80s and 90s is almost as awesome as the actuality of Spielberg directing said movie. After all, he’s responsible for a very large chunk of the nostalgia that Cline tapped into while writing his novel.

In the Columbus, Ohio of 2045, humankind has grown obsessed with plugging themselves in to the OASIS, a perfect combination of the Internet, virtual reality, a massive online video game, social media network and digital shopping mall. It is quite literally a digital oasis people flock to in order to escape the harsh, dreary realities of living in 2045.

When James Halliday, creator of the OASIS, passed away, he left behind a massive game in which the winner will inherit half a trillion dollars as well as complete control over the OASIS.

This resulted in a world where people obsessively try and level-up their online avatars in an effort to crack the codes and find the keys to Halliday’s Easter egg. Unfortunately, the second-largest company on the planet, IOI, wants control of the OASIS for its own nefarious gain.

Enter Wade Watts and his gang of friends who are trying desperately to prevent IOI from gaining control of the OASIS. The cast of the film was terrific, with the likes of Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cook, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg and Mark Rylance portraying the various characters.

It should go without saying that this film was mind-blowing from a visual and technical level; it was essentially Spielberg unleashed. Spielberg utilized his uncanny ability to anchor the audience in a way that allows viewers to follow the insane action without becoming disoriented (think the exact opposite of the Transformers movies).

This is some of the best action that Spielberg has put on film since his 2011 film The Adventures of Tintin.

One of the criticisms of the book is that it sometimes felt tedious to read through what felt like lists of cool things from the 80s.

This is where the film works so well; nearly every frame is so jam-packed with references to pop culture, yet they are mostly blink-and-you-miss-it moments. Whereas Cline had to list these things in the book, Spielberg is able to actually show the audience.

This is one of the things that makes the movie so fun, is that no matter what slice of pop culture you’re a fan of, there’s something for everyone in this movie. The film does differ quite a bit from the book, however the changes made to the story definitely help make this a more cinematic adventure.

The film alludes to what could literally be our own future as well, especially when it comes to things like online privacy, commodification of people through the use of invasive advertising, as well as bitcoin and net neutrality and corporate super-conglomerates monopolizing the telecommunications industry. These are further discussed in the book, but the movie does touch on them.

The key word for Ready Player One however is fun. While the movie has an overarching social commentary regarding people who are obsessed with technology and so rarely “unplug”, it is primarily a sci-fi adventure film full of heart and endearing sentimentality (which is perfect for Spielberg). Highly recommended.

Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at tbaymovieguy@gmail.com.

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