Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) spends his days escaping reality in the OASIS, a virtual world created by the late James Halliday (Mark Rylance) who left clues to a Golden Easter Egg granting ownership of the OASIS to whoever finds it in the adaptation of Ernest Cline’s International Best-Seller directed by Steven Spielberg.
The name itself creates high expectations. Steven Spielberg has become a trademark of good – if not excellent – filmmaking, and when news were that the legendary filmmaker was behind the adaptation of pop culture phenomenon, I was up and ready to take as much as I could from the film. I even waited to see the film first before reading the books to avoid spoiling surprises. The result? In my opinion, Steven Spielberg probably made the most significant film for cinema in years, I’d even say since maybe Jurassic Park. Yes, just that; freaking Jurassic Park. Hear me out…
Ready Player One sets the bar high when it comes to the use of motion capture, just as Jurassic Park set the bar high for computer generated images back in 1993. In short, Spielberg proved once again that his understanding of the cinematic language and its tools was unprecedented and crafted the greatest action sequences one can see. Take the first challenge for instance, captured in one continuous shot where the camera follows the racing cars, going under one truck and making moves that no real camera could have done. Nobody can stage action sequences like him. It takes someone that completely understands how to craft one great continuous shot (he already made one in The Adventures of Tintin and has continuously made some in his previous works) to imagine one from scratch that the special effects team will have the task to do on computers. And he proves that he can make one in real life with a crane in the second shot in the film, when he follows Wade Watts going down the stack of trailers.
I had a blast with Ready Player One.
Spielberg is also an author and proves just that in the second challenge when Parzival and his fellow gunthers visit the Overlook Hotel from Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece The Shining. This choice is by no means innocent. Spielberg and Kubrick were long-time friends and the latter asked Spielberg to direct one of his project, which he eventually did after Kubrick’s death when he wrote, produced and directed A.I. Artificial Intelligence. In the book, the characters are visiting the Voight-kampff scene from Blade Runner in which Deckard meets Rachel for the first time. I’m sure that Spielberg changed the setting to pay homage to his late friend. And what an homage! The Overlook Hotel looks like it’s coming straight-up from the 1980 film. What’s more, he add the bright idea to bring in a character that never saw the film, thus using him as a character the audience can relate to. The scene is masterfully handled, recreating shots from Kubrick’s film that are pixel-perfect and building the suspense with clever easter eggs for the fans.
I had a blast with Ready Player One. In a time when nostalgia fills our screens through remakes, reboots, sequels and films or TV shows inspired by the 80s such as Stranger Things, Ready Player One imposed itself as the ultimate reference. I don’t think anyone could craft a better movie for many years. It’s the perfect blend between an authors’ work and a blockbuster. I also have to mention the score composed, not by John Williams this time around, but veteran composer Alan Silvestri who brought in cues from Back to the Future. A perfect match for the film. Yes, characters may feel under-developed and we can mention a lack of credibility when we saw people running on the streets with the VR masks on and never hitting a wall, but who cares when a film is that good of an entertainment and can be a love letter to films and pop-culture?