Published On: Tue, Apr 3rd, 2018

Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ mashes up ‘National Treasure’ with ‘The Goonies’ for nerds

Haters claim Ready Player One is sexist. Gen Xers love the nostalgia. Film snobs hate on Spielberg and the story, while others praise the visual smorgasbord of pop culture references. Reality is that Ready Player One is an amalgam of The Goonies, National Treasure with some Matrix and Wreck-It Ralph mixed with a spoonful of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, all inside of a video game.

Based on the popular Ernest Cline novel, Ready Player One is set in 2045, a dystopian future where the impoverished populace spend more of their time in a virtual reality video game called OASIS, than they do in the real world. In OASIS, imagination rules the day with lands created out of pop culture, feeding every vice or lust.

Wade (Tye Sheridan), a teenage orphan who lives with his aunt in a trailer park, narrates the backstory of James Halliday (Mark Rylance) and Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg), creating OASIS, setting up the race for a mysterious Easter Egg inside the game. Playing as an avatar called Parzival, Wade joins with a fellow egg hunter (called “gunter”) named AECH (Lena Waithe), in the race, meeting a sexy avatar named Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), with whom he promptly falls in love.

The key to the race is crack the game secrets, linked to Halliday’s real life and obsession with 1980s pop culture, gather three keys and win ownership of OASIS before the drones of an evil, entrepreneurial figure named Sorrento (Rogue One‘s Ben Mendelsohn), who runs the rival company.

Got it?

It sounds much more complicated than it is.

The film is a bizarre commentary on the gaming community, nerds in general and the subculture of fandom. Halliday may look like Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner in Independence Day) but is a less obnoxious Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory), clumsy, reclusive yet obsessed. The game is seeking out the next Halliday in Willy Wonka fashion and Wade is the most obsessed nerd around.

The overall message of the film is great: reality matters. That said, too little time is spent mocking the gamer’s obsession (one character complains about losing their ten years of s*** when he’s wiped out) as though the accomplishments in the fictitious world should merit respect. At the end of the film, do these characters really care about reality?


Are they likely to just want to go back in the game, obsess and lead sheltered lives with phony victories? Yes and a resounding yes.

Cline’s idea taps into a conversation we should be having about video games, gamers and escapism, but there is too little substance in Ready Player One to push us in that direction. Gamergate brought sexist claims and allegations and frankly, it’s absurd. Art3mis/Samantha is as much of a protagonist in the film as Wade and proves to be more mature, focused and determined that her male counterparts.

Ready Player One is sort of hindered by Spielberg’s presence. Wade looks too much like the young Jaws director and the message is too juvenile for an older, mature target audience. The ending of the film leaves us in a worse situation than we began (why is the corporation always evil?) and we just don’t really care about the “real world.”

Fun. Enjoyable. Fodder for a great game of I-spy. An incredible visual splendor. Ready Player One is all of those things. Just not much more.

Ready Player One earns 3 stars out of 5 stars.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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