Pop Goes the Culture (Ready Player One review)

Ready Player One is the new blockbuster film from Steven Spielberg, the man responsible for defining what a blockbuster film actual is. Having to follow up hits like Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones, just two of his countless hits, is a monumental task. It is with the biggest smile on my face that I announce that he has managed to add another amazing film to his legendary back catalogue.

Ready Player One, set in 2045, is based on the book by Ernest Cline and tells the story of Wade Watts and his fellow players, who all play an online virtual reality game called the ‘OASIS’. The creator of the game, James Halliday, was a huge pop culture fan, and upon his death he hid three keys inside the game. The player to find those three keys wins control of the OASIS and half a trillion dollars. A treasure hunt of sorts, the characters find themselves racing to find the clues before a selfish rival company win the game and fill it with corporate advertising. That’s about as much plot info as you need, because it’s not the story that makes the film quite so great.

What makes the film so damn cool is that left right and center you’re hit with reference after reference from just about every Film, TV show and Game you could possibly think of. From the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, to King Kong chasing a Delorean, to a whole five minutes set inside a perfect replica of the Overlook Hotel, this film is bursting at the seams with pop culture references, but it manages to never get lost in the nostalgia. While all these references are amazing (and boy there are a lot of them), they never distract from the plot, but rather enhance it. Deidre Backs, the films special-projects supervisor, is credited for clearing the licenses to all the properties depicted in the film, and I can only imagine how much work that must’ve been.

With such a cool premise, the film’s visuals have to live up to it and I’m glad to say that they really do. Spielberg’s resident editor and cinematographer, Michael Kahn and Janusz Kaminski respectively, have created a brilliant style and pace to the film, and the stunning visual effects are perfectly created to look just like a video game, without ever looking too fake or unrealistic. The music by Alan Silvestri (only the third time a composer other than John Williams has scored for Spielberg) is wonderfully crafted, and he equally includes some pop culture references in his music, most notably crafting in several themes from Back to The Future, which he also scored for.

This film really has everything. A fantastic cast, incredible visuals and an exciting story that never gets lost, despite the thousands of pop-culture references it throws at us. I honestly had a smile on my face the entire time, and could feel my eyes growing bigger and bigger while fixed on the screen. Ultimately, it was a film only ‘Mr Movie’s’ himself could’ve pulled off. It almost feels that Steven Spielberg has been working up to this project. Only he has the legacy, skill and knowledge to pull off such a huge feat, and to watch the master at work once again was an unforgettable experience. People, go see Ready Player One, and prepare to have your mind truly blown.

9 Stars

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