Synopsis: In a dystopian near future, the only refuge is a globally played video game filled with late twentieth century nostalgia, while an obsessed businessman seeks to take total control.
• An overall well executed descent into the most extreme levels of nostalgia.
• Though he avoided too many references to his own work from the twentieth century, the fact that Spielberg directed the madness was more than enough to create a bizarre kind of authenticity.
• The writers of the film not only did their trivia homework, but also clearly played a lot of video games, particularly in how hidden doors, puzzles, and easter eggs are applied.
• Incredibly self-aware film, especially with it showing how the game affected the people of real world.
• The pacing was pitch perfect, especially through how it emulated actual video game plots.
• Not quite the sum of its very, very many moving parts.
• For some, the pop-culture references might have either been sensory overload or endless confusion.
• Not necessarily a film for those unimpressed by nostalgia.
Steven Spielberg might genuinely prefer to make insanely fun films. He may have made some of the best historical dramas of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but there was always a distinct glee in his less serious films like 1941 (1979) or all of the Indiana Jones films. He was having fun, and so were we. So, given that he helped shape the nostalgia that fuels the story of Ready Player One, Spielberg might have been the only person who could have even come close to making the film work at all. With an epic level of glee, like some kind of God of Film, he grasped that nostalgia, and threw it all back at us. Like the characters in the film, it was easy to miss the real point of it all, even though we are told right at the beginning: escaping through a mask to better understand ourselves might be humanly necessary, but we must come back to our harsh reality for a toilet and decent meal sometimes. It might be one of the harshest and direct messages Spielberg ever gave us, and perhaps the hardest for some to grasp.
Rotten Tomatoes — 72%