Late last year, I suspected Ready Player One might be the most difficult project of Steven Spielberg's career – not because the director was unable to produce soaring popcorn extravaganzas, but because of his provenance material , Ernest Cline's 2011 novel, was below average. Okay, I went a bit further and called it "a terribly written piece of youth fantasy that basically represents everything wrong and repugnant to modern nerd culture."
I stand by this assessment of both the book and the task placed before Spielberg. And, having seen the movie now, I can say that the illustrious director, with all due respect for my esteemed editor, has failed to meet this challenge and has barely improved the many fundamental flaws of Cline's work.
Although Spielberg is a master of coherent and gripping action sets, his empathy for underdog outsiders is as strong and authentic as ever. Despite the removal of some of the most disgusting elements of his story, his adaptation is a one-note celebration of pop culture nostalgia, which only cares to praise their audience for their love of Batman, Child's Play [1
In terms of Loyalty Ready Player One – written by Zak Penn and Cline himself – prepares the narrative of the spine book while reconfiguring most of its peculiarities. As before, teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) escapes his dreary 2045 life in Columbus, Ohio's shabby "stacks" by venturing into the Oasis VR universe, a simulation by mastermind James Halliday (Mark Rylance), where Geeks can indulge endlessly geekery. Watts does not visit the oasis just to fool around. Like the rest of the earth's population, he's there to search for three keys that uncover a secret "Easter egg" hidden by Halliday. Find the egg and gain control of the oasis itself – a prize that Wade (like his avatar Parzival) with his friends Aech (Lena Waithe) and Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) is looking for, and also from the evil society IOI and
[Beware! Spoilers Ahead!]
While this storyline comes straight from Cline's bestseller, Spielberg takes enormous liberties with the details of Wade's Quest.
On the big screen Ready Player One the secrets Wade must unlock far less with PC games in front of consoles and Dungeons & Dragons RPGs than with Halliday's understanding & # 39; s staff have to do Life is a welcome change, made even better by the fact that it's Claine's concept of fandom as a company that relies on memorizing song lyrics and dialogues. Spielberg's portrait of pop culture fanaticism is simply more exuberant there. However, this enthusiasm is often hopelessly belligerent, as the film's decision to banish the book's fetishism from the 1980s – the shoutouts in the 1970s to the present day – means that his nerve-wracking cameos are arbitrary and devoid of any Feeling Principles
Instead of Joust competitions and first-person walkthroughs of WarGames Spielberg delivers a spastic chase Back to the Future 's DeLorean, a T. Rex, and King Kong and a virtual reality by The Shining – the latter a misguided sequence that banned Kubrick's classic to a haunted house, and no doubt the Auteur has turned into his frenziedly fast grave. These are just a few of the myriad references scattered in Ready Player One and while the film does not root it out with the same sly smugness of the book, it still pats the audience on the back for recognizing it like they whiz across the screen. Wade & # 39; s adventures are reduced to a role of the famous Freddy Krueger! Hello Kitty! Beetlejuice! – This seems to be just right for recurring homemedia viewing when fans can freeze every frame to find out who's hiding in the CGI gangs (like Boba Fett and He-Man-SQUEE!)
By Art3mis and Aech in the only moderate pop culture lover (the latter has not seen amazingly in 1945 ) Player One mitigates some of Cline's allusion overload show offer. These reconfigured characterizations, however, make little sense, as both figures are said to be the best competitors for Hallidy's Easter Egg – and therefore should know far more about the obsessions of the deceased genius than they. This is hardest to feel in an early scene that reveals to Wade the fundamental story of Halliday's supposedly formidable art. And it is in line with the overall failure of the film to convey the global nature of this hunt – as well as its difficulty, as the clues Wade and Company Unravel are of a rudimentary nature compared to those in Cline's esoterically laden tome.  Similarly, Sheridan's Wade is deprived of his self-determined geekdom, making him a cardboard-cut hero. A bit more color comes with Mendelsohn's scenery chewing Sorrento and Rylance's Weirdo Halliday (less about Waithe, Cooke, and TJ Miller's i-R0k, a bounty hunter with a skull for a body that is unique in Spielberg's film the more better) . But there's so much fidgeting over overloaded digital warp-speed digital landscapes that there is no chance for something truly human. For an artist who has long since moved into a more complex terrain (see: Lincoln Bridge of Spies and The Post ), Ready Player One plays like a misguided detour back to youth. To a greater extent than Cline's book is a children's saga in which everyone is more concerned about saving their fantasy land – and the youthful little things they cling to unhealthily – as their real world at the end of the story of environmental and economic ruin is haunted (but hey, Wade learns to mess around with girls!).
This is ultimately the most frustrating part of Ready Player One : in addition to the feeling that people do not love their beloved movies and games. It has no interest in keeping a critical eye on the all-consuming fan-dom and cast stunted puberty that can perpetuate it. Like Hook it is a simple plea to rediscover the wonders of childhood, a reverie in which rejection of maturity is the key to the coolest, most desirable, and most beloved person on the planet – and as such, a love letter to the Idiots who continue to believe that the right recognition of Robocop and John Hughes quotes is the end of everything, is all for life.
Spielberg may have removed these unfortunate cline passages of virgin Wade praising the size of masturbation, but his film is still little more than a fanatic act.