Ready Player One
Directed by Steven Spielberg
A fanboy saves virtual reality.
“Never, ever underestimate Steven Spielberg,” said Eric Kohn in IndieWire.com. No other director could have spun such a satisfying adventure out of Ernest Cline’s best-selling 2011 sci-fi novel, a book almost tailored to be adapted into a busy, noisy blockbuster. In a dystopian near future, 18-year-old orphan Wade Watts lives like most everybody else—regularly escaping his squalid surroundings into a virtual-reality game world called the Oasis. Then one day he learns of a huge prize to be awarded to the player who tracks down three hidden keys. Though the story’s last third drags, “the first hour marks some of the most viscerally engaging filmmaking Spielberg has ever done.” From start to finish, the movie is “a coruscating explosion of pop-culture eye candy,” said Owen Gleiberman in Variety. The Oasis is crowded with shared cultural touchstones, so Wade’s “dizzyingly propulsive” adventure weaves in momentary encounters with Batman, the Transformers, the dance floor from Saturday Night Fever, and countless other memory ticklers. Wade is a thinly drawn hero, his online romance with a cool-girl avatar is more than a little problematic, “and yet, very little of that matters,” said Tasha Robinson in TheVerge.com. When Wade is racing his flying DeLorean against Beetlejuice in a Batmobile—all while dodging Donkey Kong—the “sheer dynamism ” is enough.