Missing the Spielberg magic: Rashid Irani reviews Ready Player One

Ready Player One Reviews Are In—and It's Giving Critics Pop Culture Whiplash

Ready Player One Reviews Are In—and It's Giving Critics Pop Culture Whiplash

The screenplay from Zak Penn and Ernest Cline is inventive and buoyant, barrelling along without hitting too many slow spots. Breathlessly name-checking everything from Atari games to "Back to the Future" to Rush's "2112' album, it was like a literary adaptation of the basement of my best friend in high school". He was the flawless choice to adapt Ernest Cline's novel, elevating the enjoyable source material into a work of pop art. But, in comparison to the edge of "Deadpool" and "Logan" and the personalities from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Ready Player One's" characters, arcs and message feel tame, and renders the film itself hollow. We made the movie on an abstract set. Who wouldn't want to escape from that, except the drone delivered pizzas which sound rather cool? When the OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance), he embedded a three-part contest into it to find a worthy heir for his vast fortune and total control of this virtual world, and as Wade and his friends, called the High Five, take on the challenge, they put themselves directly into the path of danger.

Our hero, Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), lives in a teetering trailer park called "the Stacks".

But the film's female cast is equally strong, featuring Olivia Cooke ("Me and Earl and the Dead Girl"), Emmy Award-winner Lena Waithe ("Master of None"), Hannah John-Kamen ("Tomb Raider"), and "Black Panther" breakout Letitia Wright in strong, complex roles that not only complement their male counterparts, but also commandeer the screen.

Win Morisaki (AKA Daito), however, has a character-subverting reason as to why he has a certain Easter egg in mind: "In the [Iron Giant] movie he says, 'I am not a gun, ' but in this movie he used a laser". It just seems to be in their bloodstream, nostalgia for a time they were never actually around to experience. If he can locate three Easter eggs hidden by the late James Halliday (Mark Rylance), creator of OASIS, Wade can leave his bleak, poverty-stricken existence behind and enjoy a lifestyle of wealth and success. IOI wants to control the OASIS and pollute it with the computer nerd's worst enemy - pop-up ads. It was fast paced and video game-like with the believability of an end to a world that people care about.

Halliday died five years ago, and no one has found even the first key yet.

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The game is the aptly named Oasis, a virtual reality where players can indulge in their greatest fantasies and travel far from the postapocalyptic nightmare of the outside world. It also helps a lot if you're familiar with at least a good portion of all the other references that come at us as if Spielberg is wielding a giant pop culture paint gun with a bottomless supply of ammunition. In the second act, there is a scene in which Watts as Parzival and his gang go through a classic horror movie that had me hooked once the film was first mentioned.

Ready Player One is in cinemas from today.

Yet Ready Player One is a movie of ups and down, both literally in its zany, bustling environment and in its narrative construction intended for its audience. Maybe it's on Spielberg's mind as well.

The tribute to Cline's childhood influences - 1980s movies and music - resonated immediately with critics as well, receiving warm reviews from Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Globe and others.

Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One is looking to come out of the Easter weekend the victor with a projected $42 million at the U.S. box office.

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