Let’s say you have no interest at all in 70s and 80s pop culture. Would you still enjoy Ready Player One? Probably.
Ready Player One (Film) Synopsis
In 2044, teenager Wade Watts lives in poverty with his aunt in a world stricken by depleting energy sources and other social issues. His only reprisal is the OASIS, an immensely popular virtual reality realm created by the reclusive genius James Halliday. So as to escape his dreary life, Wade races against other “Gunters” to find an Easter egg Halliday hid in the OASIS before dying, the discovery of which would grant Wade full control of the imaginary world. After locating the first key to the egg, Wade earns the deadly attention of Nolan Sorrento, unscrupulous CEO of Innovative Online industries. In short, Sorrento would stop at nothing, not even murder, to claim the multi-billion prize that is the OASIS.
I watched Ready Player One on Saturday. Since then, more and more criticism have surfaced online over the so-called celebration of pop culture icons. Among these, the one that sounded most reasonable to me was how it was not pop culture in general, but pop culture from very specific eras that’s being honoured in the movie.
Indeed, Ready Player One feels in many ways to be Steven Spielberg’s personal joyride through his favourite years. That said, I think what’s disregarded is the fact that the novel i.e. Ernest Cline himself was even more pinpointing in what he loves. Just download the sample from Google Books and see for yourself. The prologue clearly states it’s all about synth-pop 80s. Spielberg’s movie version actually expanded the boundaries a little by including some post 2000 icons.
But enough about that. I don’t intend for this snappy review to challenge those opinions. Instead, I’d like to give my two cents’ worth on whether it’s possible for someone NOT into pop culture to enjoy Ready Player One.
Say, you’re not the type who gets the shivers on hearing U.S.S. Sulaco being namedropped. Or, you don’t see what’s so dangerous about staying in the 237th room of a hotel.
And you truly, truly think that big Japanese robot with a vent for a nose is ugly.
Would you still enjoy Ready Player One?
My answer is … yes. Because let’s face it, this is a Spielberg movie and the man is good at what he does. The paper-thin, predictable plot aside, Spielberg knows exactly when and where to use sly little human touches to yank at your heartstrings.
There’s also, of course, the action, which is as slick as it gets, at least for the animated portions. If these still do not convince you Ready Player One is a great movie, then consider this. My mother doesn’t even know the meanings of “pop culture” and “Easter eggs.” Neither does she speak English. Yet, when I asked her which figurine could massacre an entire platoon within minutes, she immediately had the correct answer.* An answer celebrated in this movie.
For better or worse, that’s how pervasive American pop culture has been for the past half-century; to a lesser extent, Japanese pop culture too. Unless you have been living in a cave for the past 50 years, I think this movie will have something you can relate to. In my case, it was a mile-long list of it.
* Thereafter she reminded me how much she still hates Jason, and broke my heart.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews.
Read my musings about the real-world feasibility of the Oasis.