Brooke Nicholson | Arts & Entertainment Editor
Based on the 2011 best-selling novel by Ernest Cline, the mainly 80’s pop-culture nostalgia “Ready Player One” debuted just in time for the Easter holiday weekend.
Set in the year 2044 in the dystopia future of Columbus, Ohio (Oklahoma City in the book), we are introduced to Wade Watts, an 18-year-old living in one of the fastest-growing (and most poverty driven) cities in the world. After learning the tragic news that James Halliday, the mastermind behind the virtual world that people use to escape their own realities, the OASIS, has died and created an Easter egg in the OASIS that will give anybody who finds it half a trillion dollars and total control over the virtual reality simulator. After years of nobody even coming close to finding the first clue, Wade does some extra digging, and the movie really begins once he's found the first key. He embarks on a journey for the rest of the keys to the Easter egg with other avatars (people in the OASIS) against a greedy corporation, IOI, who want to take corporate control over the OASIS and market it.
After the trailers for “Ready Player One” were released to the public, it was no surprise that fans of every pop-culture reference framed in the movie would be heated about the portrayal of their favorite characters. While in the midst of this action-packed, extremely flashy journey through the OASIS to find the keys to the Easter egg, if you even blinked once the entire film, you’d miss some sort of reference made. Spielberg (director) made sure that there was no shortage of modern and nostalgic pop-culture references thrown in during any given moment in the film. While fans marveled at the fact that they’ve never seen some characters on the big screen before (e.g. Tracer from “Overwatch”, Hello Kitty, Commander Shepperd, and Chun-Li) the movie felt like a huge “Where’s Waldo?” search for Easter eggs in a movie about Easter eggs.
While the movie looked marvelous, hosted a larger than life race far superior to anything in the Fast & Furious franchise, and gave characters a chance on the big screen they never had, some elements of the virtual reality mega movie fell flat once they were brought back into the real world again. With an underdeveloped romance between Wade and Art3mis (Sam Cooke in the real world), the ‘heroic’ Wade and his sidekicks seemed cardboard-thin every time they stepped out of the OASIS. The movie equated seeing your favorite characters on screen to being a great movie, but once the fun of seeing exciting characters on screen was over, the movie goes back to lacking in the originality department. One of the highlights of the movie is the main characters searching for the next key inside the world of Stephen King’s “The Shining”, but for people who have never seen the movie before, are forced to sit through 15 minutes of references they are not going to get.
While fans who had read the book prior to seeing the movie seemed more disappointed than non-readers, the movie can be a fun thrill ride, especially when you spot a character you haven’t thought about in a while, tricking you into feeling like a kid again.