The new film by director Steven Spielberg, is based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline – Ready Player One. Cline additionally co-wrote the screenplay with Zak Penn.
Set in a dystopian future, specifically 2045, where ‘post the corn syrup drought, and the bandwidth riots’ the world has taken to ‘living with problems rather than trying to solve them’. The film centres on Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a teenager, orphaned and living with his aunt in the ‘Stacks’ – an future-esque shanty town made of mobile homes stacked on top of each other.
Wade and the rest of the world, spend the majority of their time in the ‘Oasis’, a virtual reality games environment, as big as your imagination will allow. Designed by programmer James Halliday (Mark Rylance) – the Willy Wonka of the film – the Oasis allows you to do, or be anything that you want. As a result it provides the vehicle for escapism on a mass scale.
Halliday has revealed, post his death, that within the oasis, that he hid 3 keys. The first person to find all of the 3 keys, will not only receive his fortune, but also total control of the oasis.
In his quest to Achieve this, Watts (user name of Percival) is joined by online friends such as Aech (Lena Waithe), Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Daito (Win Morisaki), and Sho (Phillip Zhao), as he finds himself set against the sixers, an army of gamers employed by IOI – a sinister corporation headed by former Halliday employee Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelssohn) , seeking to control the Oasis. IOI have monetised the usage of the Oasis and now run loyalty centres where those that have run up debts on it, are battery farmed gamers as they work to pay their debts.
What Spielberg achieves here is remarkable. This film is both a celebration of pop culture and an indictment of the online environments that, we now increasingly view life through. Remarks about the responsibility of the creator of such worlds for what happens within them, and their impact on society could not feel more relevant, especially in recent weeks.
I don’t know the source material so can’t comment on the adaptation, but with classic Spielberg ‘heroics of youth’ narrative and a nostaligic roller coaster ride through very well executed CGI, I loved it.