Ernest Cline’s bestselling science fiction novel, “Ready Player One,” has been given the Spielberg treatment for the film adaptation’s Mar. release. In the year 2045, the Earth has become a trash heap of a planet thanks to overpopulation and climate change. Therefore, the people of the world have turned to a virtual alternative much better than the real one. They live most of their lives in this virtual universe called the OASIS, which provides everything from socialization to entertainment to jobs. When the OASIS founder, James Halliday (Mark Rylance, “The B.F.G.”), dies, he decides to give his fortune away in a Wonka-like fashion by hiding an Easter egg within the OASIS. The one who finds it will inherit his wealth. Halliday, obsessed with the culture of his ’80s youth, drops reference upon reference to his favorite bygone era in his universe. Enter Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan, “Mud”), an OASIS fiend from my hometown of Columbus, Ohio who hopes to win the prize through his extensive knowledge of ’80s culture and skilled gaming techniques. Wade, alongside a rag-tag team of fellow gamers including the likes of Lena Waithe (“Master of None”) and Olivia Cooke (“Me, Earl and the Dying Girl”), face off against a group corporate-backed gamers after Halliday’s fortune.
The trailer gives off “Tron” and “Bladerunner 2049” vibes, trying to capture the neon-lit grittiness of a futuristic dystopia. Scattered throughout are several references to the nostalgia that Cline relies so heavily on in his novel; everything from “The Iron Giant” to the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” make an appearance in the trailer. It looks as if the film may be trying too hard to be a gamer movie. While the book is rooted in gaming culture, hopefully the film will capture the more cinematic aspects of the story.
“Ready Player One” runs the risk of getting lost in Cline’s cultural references, making it more of an ode to John Hughes than a Spielberg original. Will Spielberg deliver an “Apocalypse Now” or is “Ready Player One” destined for Atari-level failure? The film adaptation may be a hit, but I have a feeling it’s headed for Game Over.