Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” is a sci-fi adventure film based on Ernest Cline's best-selling 2011 novel that takes place 27 years from now in dismal 2045. The world is overpopulated and most of the world’s population centers have become slum-like cities while it’s not clearly stated why it went this way. In the attempt to escape the desolation of the real-world and gloomy reality, humans choose to plug themselves into a virtual reality world called OASIS where anything is possible.
The story follows Wade Watts who is an orphaned teenager who lives in the Stacks, a shanty poor neighborhood in Columbus, Ohio.
For the past five years, Wade and millions of other gamers have been obsessed over a competition which was announced by James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS who, before he died, launched a competition to find his Easter egg hidden in the game's code. To find it gamers must first find the three keys which are hidden somewhere in the virtual world and pass through the three gates where their skills will be tested. The first to find all three keys will receive Halliday's trillion-dollar fortune and control over the OASIS.
Wade’s real life is lonely and scary and it’s only in the oasis that he has a sort of a social life where Wade's avatar, Parzival is his virtual friend.
When Parzival, Wade's avatar, finds the first key, followed quickly by four other top gunters he considers friends, he's quickly threatened by a Nolan Sorrento the CEO of a rival software company called Innovative Online Industries (IOI), a global corporation that hires professional gamers (called "Sixers") to work on their behalf in the hunt for the keys. His evil plans include making as much money as possible, even if it means forcing players who have lost their virtual money to work in labor camps called Loyalty Centers in the real-life debtors’ prison.
Steven Spielberg has captured in a lovingly way the spirit of '80s nostalgia in this adventure mixed with his own spectacular style. At the same time, Ready Player One can’t help but feel ephemeral as a by-product of a culture that has already reached its peak.
The dozens or maybe hundreds of pop references built into “Ready Player One” make the movie both a pleasure and a distraction for the simple reason that they are immediately pointed out by a character to be recognizable for the viewer.
This is hardly Spielberg’s most creative genre work and can easily turn into one of his most controversial projects.
While “Ready Player One” celebrates the power of pop iconography, it also recognizes the simple truth that branding has become more important than creativity.
Spielberg definitely elevates the material, but then, that’s just because he helped write the American blockbuster rulebook in the first place.