Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One More Than Just an Entertaining Sc-Fi Flick


Director Steven Spielberg (left) delivers a blockbuster in Ready Player One, the tale of a teen making his way through an alternate universe.

A rollercoaster ride. That is the best way to describe Steven Spielberg’s new action-packed sci-fi film, Ready Player One. The movie takes viewers to an alternate reality in which anything is possible, including unlimited technology, weapons, magic, and superheroes.

Moviegoers will notice various references to 1980s pop culture and appearances by famous cartoon and comic book characters. There are allusions to Back to the Future, Pokemon, DC Comics, and much more.  For teenagers, the movie is especially appealing because it combines action, romance, mystery, drama, fantasy, and science all in one two-and-one-half hour movie. There are numerous twists and turns that propel the audience to stay interested despite the film’s length, and there is incredible animation that will awe older viewers.

Additionally, Ready Player One is extremely perplexing and intriguing due to the fact that an estimated 90 minutes of the movie’s running time is computer generated with the rest being live action. Set in a dystopian Ohio in 2045 where the world is on the verge of collapse and destruction, the inhabitants of the earth have found a haven in a virtual world known as the OASIS. Each person enters the OASIS as a character of their choosing, sort of like an alter-ego. What’s really awesome is that players can fashion cars and guns with their bare hands. This virtual universe was created by the incredibly intelligent but socially awkward James Halliday (played by Mark Rylance). When Halliday died, he left his enormous fortune to be collected by the first person who found a digital Easter egg that he hid somewhere in the OASIS. This sparks an intensely competitive contest around the world for those who want to receive millions of dollars and control of the game.

A young man named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) emerges as the movie’s unlikely hero. He lives in an area called the “stacks” in which the poorer residents of Columbus, Ohio, cling onto hope and their virtual reality glasses. He wishes to participate in the scavenger hunt so that he can bring himself out of poverty. When Wade (AKA Parzival in the OASIS) finishes the first of three challenges in the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends – known as the High Five – are shoved into a fantastical universe of danger and discovery to save the OASIS. Using only wit and skills, Wade and his team must guarantee that the fate of the world does not end up in the wrong hands.

Ready Player One hit theaters on March 29, 2018, and so far it has had a mostly positive reaction from viewers. It received a 74 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, an eight out of ten score on IMDb, and a 64 percent on Metacritic. During Easter weekend in North America, it grossed $53.2 million in ticket sales. Overseas audiences even chipped in an additional $128 million according to the New York Times, with Chinese ticket buyers contributing a huge turnout in particular.

Those results, improved by IMAX and other premium-priced, large-format screenings, easily made Ready Player One the number one movie in the world at the time of its debut. Before it hit theaters, theater sales analysts were worried that the sales would not be high because the main actors were not household names, and because advertisers were left with the difficult task of explaining the movie and making it sound entertaining while also not spoiling it. Fortunately, Ready Player One overcame these obstacles, as evidenced by its high ticket sales. Ultimately, it was a surprising new success for esteemed director Spielberg, who has not had a recent blockbuster. Against all odds, the film dominated the box office during its opening weekend.

Ready Player One is actually based on a 2011 science fiction novel with the same name. One of the many reasons the movie was predicted to possibly arrive with only $38 million in ticket sales was because a fan base for the franchise did not exist beyond those who read the novel. Movie makers were given the painstaking challenge of allowing it to be attractive to an assortment of audience types while also not diverging too far away from the book. On a side note, author Ernest Cline took readers to the year 2044 in his renown novel, and he is currently working on a sequel.

There are also numerous underlying messages provided in the movie. Although buried deep, there are lessons about the future and of what technology has done to society. In a dystopian future where virtual reality has consumed people’s lives, the movie prompts viewers to enjoy the presence of others in the real world. The characters learn that they spend too much time in the OASIS, and that they destroy their relationships with their friends and families by being absorbed in virtual reality.

The film also gives us a possible glimpse into the future, as virtual glasses transport gamers into an alternate universe where they can feel whatever pains, emotions, and sensations that their avatar feels. Societal norms in this future parallel life today as technology can be both entertaining and addicting. In a way, this makes the movie somewhat frightening as this may very well be our lives in twenty years from now.

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