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April 23, 2018

Ready Player One is a nice trip back to the 80s

by Nene Narh-Mensah, Staff Writer
Based on the bestselling novel written by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One directed by Steven Spielberg, is set in the year 2045 in Oklahoma City, an industrial shell of a city. To escape their current situation, residents spend most of their time in the OASIS, a Virtual Reality (VR) simulator created by late video-game mogul James Halliday (Mark Rylance). Right after his death, a video was released featuring Halliday saying that in the VR universe he hid three "easter eggs" in the form of three keys. Whoever finds them will win his fortune and the OASIS. Millions of people start hunting down the keys, including huge tech company Innovative Online Industries (IOI) run by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). The lead character Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) is a nerdy teenager obsessed with studying Halliday and finding the keys.
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The film is laden with references to movies like The Shining, and video games like Street Fighter. The movie recreated the Overlook Hotel of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining with its imposing lobby and sweeping hallways. The central appeal of the OASIS is that players can be anyone they choose, so the film often has characters from Street Fighter like Ryu and Ken running around.

Halliday and his business partner Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg) have a relationship similar to that of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Halliday being the technological prodigy and Morrow the charismatic salesperson. The other characters range from somewhat interesting to monotonous. Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) is charming, a nice contrast to Watt's shallow character. Aech (pronounced "h") is clever and more realistic than the other characters. Shoto and Daito are side characters that show up occasionally in the first half of the film, yet are given important roles near the end. Sorrento's character lacks depth compared to the main character Watts' naivety. Sheridan's lack of emotion in his delivery of Watts' lines undercut a lot of the film's vital moments. Case in point, the rallying speech by Watts near the end of the movie.

Ready Player One reveals the dependence the players have on technology and the escape it gives them. In the aforementioned speech, Watts reinforces the narrative that James Halliday has god-like status. He even says that they must save the OASIS "in the name of James Halliday." This type of status has been achieved by tech moguls like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in today's society.

Players are willing to do anything to keep the game alive. There's a joke in which a player who had just lost the game tries to jump out of a window. This is emblematic of the lengths that some people are willing to go to - and a warning to today's society.

Overall, Ready Player One makes for an enjoyable time at the movies. It's a good time for anyone into the culture of the 80s and 90s.

Ready Player one is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, nudity and language. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

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