Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
A reflection of the entertainment of our past, present, and where we are heading in the future.
Ready Player One is by far the most fun I have had at the movies in years, and it is the first movie since 'Avatar' that you must see in 3D.
I was a little worried based on the trailer that I would have already seen much of the charm this movie was going to deliver, but thankfully most of that is just from the first couple minutes where the story is setup.
So basically there is a video game world called 'The Oasis', where a large part of the population spends countless hours of their day in via Virtual Reality headsets. The challenge is that the creator of this game world has died, but the winner of his final challenge will win control of 'The Oasis' and his fortune.
The antagonist of the movie is a company called IOI that makes VR equipment, and wants to win the challenge so they can make even more money on the 'The Oasis' by filling it with as many advertisements as possible.
When people enter the game they are represented as an avatar of their choosing, and the player can earn coins to level up. There is an interesting element showing some players, who have a gambling like addiction and invest too much money into the game that it hurts them in the real world.
This is an excellent Spielberg movie, but it does have its faults. 'The Oasis' fills so grandiose, that every time we go back to reality it feels a little meh. The pop songs are really great, but the score was mostly forgettable other than the occasion hints of 'Back to the Future' that were thrown in when they discovered something new. Also I thought the Avatars for the lead characters Parzival and Art3mis were a little generic.
It was neat how all the puzzles were based on the creator of the challenge's life and his knowledge of movies and games, so the main characters learning more about him helped them solve each puzzle.
That scene where Parzival and Art3mis are dancing to a disco song really clicked with me about the movie's theme. These characters are coming together in appreciation for this 70s style of music in this virtual gaming realm that is fast becoming the future of gaming. It is so fascinating seeing the collision of all these forms of entertainment/ escapes from reality blended together. And Spielberg even gives us a wink at the end, that it is good to take a break for some actual human connection from time to time.
The actions scenes are by far the best part with this extreme wave of pop culture references from the 70s all the way up to the 2000s. Some elements are featured while others are in the background, but it is still fun to see them all come together and to pick out all the ones you know and love.
Stanley Kubrick is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time, and 'The Shining' is among my favorite films. So to have the entire middle challenge be the best homage ever to this masterpiece of horror cinema had me smiling from ear to ear. I just hope that seeing so much of 'The Shining' out of context simply encourages kids to see it one day and not spoil their enjoyment. From seeing the characters walk thru the over look hotel, to the elevator of blood, and a giant ax in the hedge maze ... I have a feeling Spielberg felt Kubrick's presence as he crafted this amazing salute to his old friend.
I am not exactly sure where they were going with that end part where they hinted that the created of 'The Oasis' may not really be dead, but instead just a permanent addition to this virtual world. To be honest I am fine with it just being left ambiguous. The end did not really amaze me, but I sure had fun with the journey getting to that point.
Wanted to list some of the references that I enjoyed:
Parziva drives the DeLorean from 'Back to the Future'
The Iron Giant gets plenty of screen time and I really loved seeing my son enjoy that character in another movie where he gets plenty of action. I had to give a little cheer when The Iron Giant got lowered into the lava and payed homage to T2
King Kong doing some serious damage on the race course
TMNT and the Battle Toads
Plenty of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat characters
Chest burster from Alien
John Hughes trivia
Mario Kart reference
Fu$& its Chucky
The HOLY HAND GRENADE!!!!
And so so so many more!
This movie is an excellent popcorn flick and is a total blast to see on the big screen!
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Happy movie watching... SKOL!