After filling three decades worth of summer blockbusters and high budget films, Steven Speilberg, also known as the Micheal Jordan of Filmmaking (it’s not even a debate if we’re being honest), took a large break to focus on more visceral and realistic films to add more Oscars to his mantle. Although these films were magnificent in their own right and tested the mastery of Speilberg, a little part of me wished to see an imaginative adventure helmed by Speilberg that reminds me how it felt wearing out multiple vcr tapes of Jurassic Park and the original Indiana Jones trilogy(Kingdom of The Crystal Skull has been erased from my brain). When hearing the announcement that Steven Speilberg would be handling the behemoth that is the source material of Ready Player One, a 2011 science fiction novel that is largely regarded as an unfilmable intellectual property I was over the moon happy. If there was any single director that could translate the heart and nerdiness of the 2011 book, it would be Speilberg.

After much anticipation for what was entitled a “nergasm” by author Ernest Cline, Speilberg delivered one of the best summer blockbusters in recent memory while writing a very personal love letter to Nerd material; delivering an enthralling adventure based in a dystopian future.

Ready Player One is a 2018 American science fiction adventure film produced and directed by Steven Spielberg,written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline and stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance.

Imagine a dystopian world that is still technology driven in 2045, and the whole world logs into a networking virtual reality world that provides an escape from a mundane reality entitled the OASIS. To escape their terrible reality,creator and nerd lover James Halliday created his own reality for people to practically live in. Ready Player One follows Eighteen-year-old Wade Watts mission to find three keys hidden inside the OASIS, to inherit James Halliday’s share and become the sole owner of this new world.

Leaving the screening room for Ready Player One, I was brimming with joy but in order to provide an unbiased and honest review I had an obligation to sit down and dissect the experience that the film provided me, from the technical aspects of the film to the character developments of our casts.

It would be easy to forego the monumental task that was placed on Spielberg’s shoulders, but aided by his regular cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, Steven Speilberg utilizes the source material given to him and provided us a euphoric pop culture galaxy, filled with late-20th- and early-21st-century entertainment that we all know and love with hundreds of more hidden in the shadows.

Speilberg understands and acknowledges the fine line between paying homage and bombarding us with pop-culture and ensures that the characters and in particular the OASIS is the focal point of Ready Player One. It would be extremely easy to abuse the pop-culture for cheap and momentary thrills, but Speilberg understands that it would leave viewers dissatisfied with the overall product and provides a rich story. Tribute is paid to Mr. Spielberg’s colleagues like John Hughes and Stanley Kubrick in a tasteful manner that will have cinema fans smiling.

The action is breathless and non-stop in it’s nature, leaving viewers wide eyed and craving more. The visual marvel that is provided withReady Player One is revolutionary in it’s nature. Ready Player One is a combination of gritty live action and perfect CGI and it’s a combination that is extremely difficult to master, but when done right it elevates good action to great. It’s an ambitious and calculated risk, but pays off tenfold. With deliberately long and overwhelming action sequences which plays right into the blockbuster feel adds to the video game-esque aesthetic that Ready Player One provides.

Not to be outdone by the masterful job done by Speilberg, all across the board the cast of Ready Player One deliver within the confines of their roles.Wade and his friends Aech (Lena Waithe), Daito (Win Morisaki), Shoto (Philip Zhao) and Artemis (Olivia Cooke) all are great in their roles but the two standout performances are awarded to Ben Mendelsohn(Nolan Sorrento) and Mark Rylance(James Halliday). The bond created between the main protagonists between the film via the vessel of the OASIS feels organic and you find yourself rooting for these characters in their quest to find these Easter eggs in order to change their lives.

To add to the age old cliche that a film is only as good as it’s villain Ready Player One finds its mustache twirling villain with Ben Mendelsohn, who plays former Halliday intern and would-be corporate competition Nolan Sorrento. Ben Mendelsohn just looks evil and looks to be having the time of his life playing the evil head hancho. Conniving and devious in his actions, Mendelsohn provides the perfect threat to our heroes.

Ready Player One aims to celebrate fanboys, and James Halliday as the creator of the OASIS is everything we love about nerds, geek culture encapsulated into one character. Mark Rylance provided that dad-like humor us nerds have and the skittish personality that nerds are stereotyped with and is endearing in his performance.

If I were to pinpoint the films flaw, the film falters when a romance brews between two of our main characters. To keep the review completely spoiler free, the romantic relationship feels extremely rushed in comparison and feels like a forced subplot in order for the film to have something to sympathize towards in such a imaginative and fantastical world.

Ready Player One is the return of what I like to call Magical Speilberg and the tools he’s sharpened with his recent run of realistic films are displayed throughout this big-budget blockbuster. Ready Player One’s shining strength is the spirit and heart that this cinematic experience prides itself in. If Ready Player One was a kid in High School, it would be that kid that’s always in your classes but doesn’t say anything, but once you get to know him/her, you realize they’re pretty awesome.

Grade:A

Ananth Para
paramana@mcmaster.ca

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