4 out of 5

I’m not a gamer, never have been really. I’ve picked up a controller here and there, and had a lot of fun on the computer and various gaming systems — but I’ve never been one to spend hours playing a game — especially in the way it is done now. I’ve tried — it just never really appealed to me. I guess I’m old and stuff.

So to say I had low expectations for “Ready Player One” would be an understatement. But I figured since it was a Steven Spielberg film, at the very least it would be well made and directed. What I got though was a film that was completely entertaining, filled with dazzling visuals and nostalgia that would make anyone point to the screen and smile at some point. Though some of the references might be more for children of the 80’s and 90’s — the movie really does have something for everyone.

The story is set in the year 2045, and pretty much everything we’ve grown accustomed to in life has vanished in some way shape or form. Desolation has replaced comfort, and everyone escapes the harshness of life through a virtual reality platform called the OASIS. In this version of the world — people can really do anything, go anywhere and be just about anything they want to be. The whole thing was designed by a man who was socially awkward his whole life and needed a way to relate to others by the name of James Halliday. Because of his creation, though he isn’t a man of great charisma, the entirety of humanity essentially worships him as he is viewed as a savior of sorts. So when he passes away early on in the film — the whole world stops. As a good bye gift he transmits a message to everyone detailing how he has left three keys that will unlock different parts of the game, and ultimately lead to a giant Easter Egg. The person who finds the keys, and captures the egg will be given Halliday’s entire fortune and become the one who has total control of the OASIS.

With the fortune being massive, and more importantly control of pretty much everything in everyone’s lives up for grabs — the hunt is part of nearly everyone’s activities when they enter the game. Including an organization called IOI, which has gathered an enormous amount of players with the promise of fame and fortune if they can help solve the puzzle — thereby giving control to IOI and its crooked leader, Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). A young man named, Wade, or Parzival in the OASIS (Tye Sheridan), is one of the premier players, and even though it has been 5 years since Halliday’s passing, he is still obsessed with finding the keys and conquering the game — but for more pure reasons. This all starts with “The Race” which takes place regularly and promises the release of the first key to the one who can complete it. Nearly everyone has tried and they all have failed — but it is Parzival who figures out the cryptic clues and solves the first puzzle and wins the first key. All of this gains the attention of IOI (along with nearly everyone else in the game), and starts the march toward the other keys — with IOI willing to do anything to anyone who gets in their way.

This movie is genuinely what I go to movies for. I love to be entertained (duh), and I just love to watch a story unfold that is original — somewhat of a rarity these days. The film is based on a book, and I was told that the movie is a very faithful adaptation. I was also told there’s a second book — which means if this film does well for everyone’s wallet — surely there will be a sequel. What is most amazing about this film is just how real it looks. I would guess that a majority of what is on the screen is CGI, and there are times where it impossible to tell the difference from the real shots to those that were done on a computer (wait until you see the scene from “The Shining”). It is nearly seamless.

All of the acting is terrific and Tye Sheridan is quickly becoming a reliable young actor in terms of being able to pull off a big role in a big film. He is supported by Olivia Cooke, who also does an admirable job — and Ben Mendelsohn is just as evil as he was as Krennic in “Rogue One.” Since the release of “Black Panther,” there hasn’t been a whole lot to get excited about at theaters, but “Ready Player One” gets things back on track, and is a fun movie for nearly any moviegoer. Kids will love it for the video game aspect and the young people acting in the film, and parents will love watching for all of the things that made their childhood so fun.

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