Pick it or flick it: Ready Player One

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Tye Sheridan as Ready Player One’s protagonist entering the virtual world, the Oasis (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Spielberg’s Ready Player One is filled to bursting with pop culture references and barely has any room left over for anything original. From The Shining and Back to the Future, to Minecraft and everything else in between, it’s no surprise that a movie this bursting at the seams with references struggles to find its own voice.

While the film is a mess of popular culture and spends its run time carefully dodging any real substance with character interactions and plot, it still manages to be entertaining. Filled with fast paced action, adventure, romance, and enough references to excite and entertain any fan. Spielberg adds another crowd pleasing film to his career.

Familiar video game characters, Tracer and Chun-Li join the charge in Ready Player One (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Despite its crowd appeal the film doesn’t quite live up to Spielberg’s other work. Packed with cheesy lines like “A fanboy knows a hater” delivered as serious dialog, the film can come across as cringy at times. Audiences may find themselves groaning at the desperate antics of our hero Wade Watts played by Tye Sheridan, whose only character trait is his obsessive fanboy knowledge of pop culture in the 80’s and falls to awkward pieces whenever our leading lady, Art3mis played by Olivia Cooke, is on screen.

For fans of the book the film takes quite a few liberties but still manages to remain true to the spirit of the original. Key plot twists remain almost unchanged, while many character and story details have been changed almost beyond recognition.

If you’re a purist you might be better off staying home and rereading the book, but if you do you’ll miss out on the visual treat that is the virtual world of the Oasis. Visually stimulating, Spielberg does not disappoint with the spectacular visuals and unique scenes, taking full advantage of the innovative cinematic opportunities that a virtual world gives him.

Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke’s avatars in the Oasis, Parzival and Art3mis (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Ready Player One is not terribly original but is that surprising? The entire concept was built out of references to other works of fiction. Expecting it to be something profound might be asking too much of this fanboy extravaganza.

While this film can be cringy at times and a bit unoriginal, it still manages to give the audience a good time. If you’re looking for something new and unique then this movie is not for you. If you’re looking for a fun escape from reality, and a celebration of all your favorite 80’s classics, then Ready Player One is a Pick it for you.