The sell for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One is a little like the sell for Jurassic Park, except instead of dinosaur shock and awe, it’s pop-culture nostalgia shock and awe.
So the T-rex from Jurassic Park is actually in there, along with King Kong, the Iron Giant, Lara Croft, Marty McFly’s time-traveling DeLorean and Adam West’s Batmobile, a notable weapon from the Alien franchise, an iconic setting from a celebrated horror movie, an ’80s-centric score that includes Van Halen, Tears for Fears and Joan Jett, and far, far too many video game and cinematic homages and Easter eggs to document, even if I saw the movie a dozen times, which would definitely be at least 10 times too many.
Worlds collide in Ready Player One in a digital mashup multiverse called the OASIS, a sci-fi virtual vale akin in its own way to J.M. Barrie’s Neverland or C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, a patchwork of disparate mythologies all hugger-mugger. (Barrie juxtaposes pirates, mermaids, fairies, American Indians and flying children; Lewis draws on Greco-Roman and Norse mythology, Hans Christian Andersen, Beatrix Potter and Kenneth Grahame, Arthurian legend, Father Time and even Father Christmas, and, of course, the Bible.)
J.R.R. Tolkien detested such pastiches, but the sort of person who loves Tolkien for the encyclopedic depth of Middle-earth will often love the very different encyclopedic quality of Narnia — or the OASIS.
Ready Player One is a curator’s garden of delights, and if you love the sort of things that go into it and you don’t mind your carrots and peas touching (the way Tolkien did), this movie might be your candy store.
You know there’s a “but” coming, right?
The world of the OASIS exists in 2045 alongside an oppressive dystopian future from which the virtual reality of the OASIS is the only escape for most people.
Take our hero, a young orphan named Wade Watts (The Tree of Life’s Tye Sheridan), who lives in the high-rise trailer-park slums of what used to be Columbus, Ohio, with his aunt and her abusive boyfriend (Susan Lynch and Ralph Ineson).
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.