"Ready Player One" by Yoijimbo
Yojimbo - wrote on 09/17/19
In a near-future world where the disenfranchised and downtrodden spend all of their time in a virtual reality gaming system, an ordinary kid attempts to solve three challenges that will give the winner ultimate control over both it and the most powerful corporation in the world.
Steven Spielberg's latest fantasy opus is essentially Charlie and The Chocolate Factory for the digital generation. The most obvious reference points are The Matrix, except the population are absorbed into the artificial reality out of "choice" - making their subjugation rather more subtle in its approach - and of course the original "lost in cyberspace" children's adventure Tron with Ben Mendelsohn's corporate douche bag very much in the same mould as David Warner's. It allows for a few sly digs at the corporatisation of the internet and the way people so easily volunteer away their freedom for the sake of the promise of superficial reward and the "young rebels fighting against The Man" format will be very familiar to fans of Spielberg's work. The film is not so much littered as inundated with pop culture references and as such will not be to every taste; those not familiar with gaming culture will be particularly non-plussed. The plot also seems rather off-kilter as more balance with the real world scenes would have served the story far better; we spend a little too much time in the digital realm making it feel like watching someone else playing a videogame - because in essence, that's exactly what we are doing - which makes the action sequences lack any sense of genuine jeopardy a no-one is really in danger of anything but getting "zeroed out" and "re-spawned".
Having said that, Spielberg as ever has a real feel for popular entertainment and you can't help but be carried away by its sheer exuberance...although if you're not a seasoned gamer or 80's film geek, a lot of it may fly right over your head.