Ready Player One Puts Audience In the Game

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Lena Waithe, Win Morisaki, Olivia Cooke, and Philip Zhao in Ready Player One.

I have been a video game geek since I first played Pong and plugged into my Atari 2600 with my quest to beat Pac-Man.  The sounds, the action, the strategy has had me hooked ever since.  Video games have dramatically changed since 1979.  Simple graphics have given way to Player versus Player shooter games like the crazy popular Fortnight.  The one constant has been the Player losing themselves in the story and action of the game itself.

The question that every gamer has asked, “What if I was IN the video game itself and had full control of all its action and defeats?”  This “What if” has turned into reality in the new SciFi action adventure movie “Ready Player One” directed by Stephen Spielberg.

The year is 2045.  Life is hard.  Overpopulation, energy shortages and unemployment have ripped through the population making them search for an escape from their terrible lives.  OASIS is that escape.  OASIS is a hyper-realistic, 3D video game paradise where your imagination is the only limitation.  Everyone logs into the OASIS daily, allowing the player to choose where and what it will do in this “lifelike” paradise.  Just think what you could do without any inhibitions, insecurity or limitations.  Wade Watts (Ty Sheridan) is an eighteen-year-old gamer that wants to be more than the poor orphan from the “Stacks” which is his reality.  His quest is to find an “Easter Egg” hidden in the OASIS, by its wacky, eccentric billionaire creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance).  (For those non-gamers out there, an “Easter Egg” is a code or extra bonus hidden in video games and movies.)  Watt’s life is spent almost entirely logged onto the OASIS, playing as his avatar, Parzival.

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Five years have passed since Mr. Halliday has died and his challenge has remained unbeaten.  This “Easter Egg” is the mother of all “Easter Eggs.”  He has left his entire fortune and total control over the OASIS itself to the “Worthy Heir” who finds the one hidden in his OASIS.  The quest is not an easy one.  The winner will have to find three keys and unlock three gates.  Parzival meets up with another egg hunter or “gunter” named Art3mis (Olivia Cooke).  They form a supergroup with fellow “gunters” Aech, Daito and Shoto.  They call themselves “The High Five.”  They soon figure out where the first key is located, and they are off on a crazy tech adventure in search of the elusive “Easter Egg.”

There is one problem.  They are being hunted by the superteam “Sixers” who are employees of IOI (Innovative Online Industries).  IOI is a global telecommunications conglomerate and the world’s largest internet provider.  Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) is the head of IOI and is the main antagonist in “Ready Player One.”  His objective is to obtain the “Easter Egg” by any means necessary so that he may take over the OASIS and monetize it.  He even goes as far as to offer Parzival a job at IOI and 5 Million dollars to reveal the location of the first key.  Parzival’s declined offer sets the stage for the virtual heavyweight fight between Parzival and the “High Five” versus Sorrento and his “Sixers” with the control of the OASIS and humanity hanging in the balance.  They will partake in an 80’s video game, pop-culture, movie frenzy, game board chess match for the ages.  The winner will only have to ponder the dilemma of an absorbent fortune filled with an eternity of leisure and video games or world peace.  A tough call either way.  What would you choose young gamer?

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If you are into Video Games and are a product of the 1980’s, you MUST see this film.  “Ready Player One” is a labyrinth of 80’s video games, movies quotes, and pop culture.  There are so many 80’s Childhood references that I actually had to see it a SECOND time to get most of them.  I actually liked this movie BETTER the SECOND time I saw it.  Now that is saying something!

Spielberg is masterful in his storytelling and includes many of his own 80’s movies as “Easter Eggs” in the film which did not go unnoticed by me.  This film took me back to my childhood and for that I am very appreciative.  “Ready Player One” has some mind blowing special effects and tells a great story with a great climatic life lesson ending for the ages.  A Must See Fun Movie for all those Video Gamers out there like myself.  I give this movie a 3.75 out of 4 stars.

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