REVIEW: ‘Ready Player One’ masterfully brings out the teenager in all of us


Ready Player One

Alex Novak

The magic of going to the movies can undoubtedly be one of the best experiences a person can ever have during their life. Nothing quite matches the feeling of being exhilarated by a memorable film.

“Ready Player One” does what few movies can accomplish by perfectly providing a nostalgic, inventive and original story that takes over your mind.

Based on the 2011 novel of the same name, the movie is the latest entry from all-time great filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who brought us classics such as “Jaws,” “E.T. the “Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jurassic Park,” Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan” and more.

Around every corner of the movie’s mystery — the game’s puzzle — is its numerous references or plot importances given to various pieces of ‘80s music, movies, TV shows, games, clothing, lifestyle, figures, catchphrases and comics.

One of the clear inspirations behind the film’s old-time but new-wave atmosphere is Back to the Future, which Spielberg executive produced. 

The film’s protagonist, Wade Wallace/Parzival, is essentially our Marty McFly. The film uses the famous DeLorean as Parzival’s vehicle of choice, parts of the same music mixed into the score by composer Alan Silvestri and even a Zemeckis Cube used to go a minute back in time — paying tribute to the classic trilogy’s director.

Indeed, a handful of ‘80s and pop culture references are woven seamlessly into the film, whether it be Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Shining” or the vintage Atari 2600 gaming system.

The plot of the film revolves around the teamwork of a group of normal players, known as the “High Five,” as they attempt to win the game in the virtual reality world known as the OASIS.

Through completing different challenges to find three keys, they can gain control of the OASIS from its deceased creator, James Halliday, by obtaining the golden egg and keeping it out of the hands of the IOI, a company that seeks to control the virtual reality game for its own profit and not for the good of the citizens of Earth in the year 2045.

The film also captures the life of what many introverted kids go through mentally while growing up. Quite a few teenage kids are wallflowers, distanced from the numerous cliques of the high school life and also often avid fans of many particular games, shows or bands.

We often refer to these works as not exactly popular, but to have gained a cult following.

The film explains plainly that some people simply don’t feel comfortable in this world, and the games or fantasies that they enter into are their escape. It’s a trip to a place where they feel free to be themselves and are able to do so.

It’s an appreciation film for the so-called nerds, the introverted geeks and the awkward that is within everyone. You can do anything and be anyone in the OASIS, because sometimes you don’t always like who you really are — much like Halliday felt his whole life.

And sometimes the freedom to be who you want to be can help you discover the joy in being who you truly are.

With that being said, it is not a movie just for the gamers. It explains beautifully that anyone can play a game and illustrates just how exhilarating it can be. The objective doesn’t have to be winning or even for competition; it really just has to be about having fun and discovering what could possibly turn into the incredible.

“Thank you for playing my game,” says Halliday, having left the OASIS to a trusted predecessor.

By the time the credits roll, audiences will feel like they have traveled back in time for a dip in the magic waters of their past, discovering a sense that they have witnessed greatness unfold while seeing this film.

The journey will make one feel like a kid again, young at heart, while providing them with a mindset as if they were on top of the world to leave with.

It leaves no stone unturned along its creative and seamlessly constructed, spellbinding path. With every twist and turn and big reveal, you will be watching real magic take place.

Alex Novak is an entertainment reviewer. Contact him at [email protected].