Ready Player One ★★★★½

“Ready Player One” feels like the movie my 13-year-old self would want to make. The movie is a love letter to video games and classic movies and I couldn’t help but smile almost the entire way. Director Stephen Spielberg shows he can still bring the magic and create a fantasy world that feels real.
Based on the acclaimed novel by writer Ernest Cline (who also co-wrote the screenplay), “Ready Player One” tells the story of a poor boy who escapes his life by going into the OASIS, a virtual reality world that everyone spends most of their time in. It’s super realistic and it basically combines video games, Facebook and all of the Internet into one virtual marketplace. The creator has died and in his video will he proclaims that whichever player can find the “easter egg” hidden in the game will get half a trillion dollars and control over the OASIS. A team of “gunters” — short for egg hunters — race to solve clues and find the egg before an evil corporation beats them to it.
Think “The Matrix” meets “Willy Wonka” with maybe a dash of “TRON” thrown in there.
If you’d read the book, be prepared for lots of changes. The pop culture references in the novel are totally different on film — probably due to getting the rights — and many major plot points have been altered. The general premise and spirit of the novel are in tact though so I’m fine with the changes. In fact, it made it less predictable for me. And I feel better since Cline himself worked on the script.
The film is visually stunning and the action sequences are actually easy to follow (a flaw in so many CGI action films like “Transformers” is that you can’t really tell what’s going on in the battle scenes).
The music by Alan Silvestri is among some of his best work and I loved the subtle nods to “Back to the Future” and other films.
Is this the greatest movie ever made? No. It’s probably not even the best movie with video game influences (I’d put “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” ahead of this) but “Ready Player One” is a thrill ride that I’ll eagerly watch again when it comes out on Blu-Ray so I can pick up on any pop culture references I missed.
I do miss some scenes from the book that were left out and honestly I wish there were MORE pop culture references in this nostalgia-fueled film, but overall I was very satisfied. I was never bored and it reminded me of why I love Spielberg’s filmmaking so much.