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"Ready Player One" Review: Spielberg goes back to the future

"Why can not we even go back?" the protagonist of "Ready Player One" wonders, just before he starts his "Back to the Future" DeLorean in the opposite direction. "Really kick the metal."

Pressing rewind is an understandable desire these days, if at all. But in today's reboot, the remake-crazy movies, it's not floating against the tide. But Steven Spielberg's "Ready Player One", a freaky virtual geek party flooded by the ephemera of the 80s, does not want to wade back into the past. It wants to race at full throttle. "Ready Player One" is a good dizzy overdose for those who have become obsessed with pop nostalgia.

In a dystopian 2045, where the world looks almost like rubbish, teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) lives in "The Stacks" ̵

1; not in books, but in huge mobile homes – in Columbus, Ohio, with his Aunt. "These days," he says, "reality is a crap." With the desolation around everyone is addicted to a headset and the virtual reality of OASIS. There an individual can turn into a digital avatar – live action or animated, human or extraterrestrial, Sonny or Cher – and basically do anything. Your imagination is your only limit. You can even, as we are told, climb the mountain. Everest with Batman! Presumably, the thin air would make him less grumpy.

It has been five years since the death of OASIS creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance), a bubbly Steve Jobs-meets-Willy Wonka nerd-deity, who left a trio of easter eggs – hidden cues – in his play. The first to find the keys and follow them to the end will win the rights for the trillion-dollar firm. Wade, who comes from Parzival in OASIS, is among the competitors who are still trying to crack the first challenge – a fierce melee through New York City streets, where racers include King Kong and the T-Rex from Jurassic Park. "

At the SXSW premiere of the film, Spielberg presented" Ready Player One, "based on Ernest Cline's bestselling book of 2011, as" film, "not" film. " Spielberg is also turning the clock back – just four months after releasing his well-timed ode to press freedom, "The Post" – with a thrill ride spectacle that goes back to his "Schindler's List". Days and the popcorn-friendly flights of film magic that Spielberg conjured up before focusing on "more serious" stories.

The funny, sometimes embarrassing irony of "Ready Player One" is that Spielberg does not just make a movie like his old films; He makes a movie with his old films. Playberg, who initially thought a younger director should have written Cline and Zak Penn's screenplay, said he had removed many of his own credentials from the script.

But the universe of "Ready Player One" remains a loving, fanboy tribute to the escapist entertainments Spielberg did more than anyone else to create. "Ready Player One" could be under the title "Spielberg: The Remix". It's a little bit like sitting with a Spielberg cover band – a band that is totally excited to have the master in their midst.

It's also an opportunity for one of cinema's most absurd and craziest films directors, who had to reckon with both his blockbuster legacy and the digitally savvy generations of fantasy seekers who followed him. In OASIS there are soloists named "Gunters" like Parzival and his VR crush Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) who deeply believe in the game and its creator. And there are companies, notably Innovative Online Industries, led by a classy suit called Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) that sends armies of players into battle hoping to capture the lucrative business – and into the worst anti-nerd Plots – Open OASIS for advertising.

If it is not through the 1980's references to Tootsie Roll pop commercials to Buckaroo Banzai, "Ready Player One" is an Internet parabola. There is evidence of earlier "band raiding" before this fight to keep OASIS open to all. "Ready Player One" is both game and war, whose stakes are sometimes tempered by the fact that it is a country in which one believes. Much of "Ready Player One" also promotes a boring player culture where "real" fanboys outnumber "haters," geeks compete with suits, and tech wizards are slavishly revered. Between the book and the film, Gamergate exposed the toxicity of the video game culture presented here.

As breathtaking as the kaleidoscopic OASIS – a brighter, lower priced pop culture soup than the one in "The Lego Movie" – "Ready Player One" is best when it sets foot in the real world. It's very clear where Spielberg's heart is and where he feels, he longs to lead his film. (Sorry, "movie".)

Spielberg shows, however, that he is just as capable of making a scary spectacle. The momentum is upside down, the visual fireworks are brilliant and despite every change in reality, each scene is perfectly staged. It's incredibly forward-moving for a backward-looking movie. Spielberg makes stuff easier and more registered than anyone else in blockbuster making.

But if I choose between Vintage Spielberg and Meta Spielberg, I still prefer the original article – not too fanboyic.

"Ready Player One," a Warner Bros. release, is released by the Motion Picture Association of America for "Sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language" rated PG-13. "Running time: 140 minutes, three out of four stars

Follow AP movie writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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