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Written by / 3/28/2018 / No comments / , , ,

STEVEN SPIELBERG GOES FUTURE-PAST IN 'READY PLAYER ONE'

Real of Release: 2018 Years of Celebration: 1980's
Most films begin slowly, and then open up into an adventurous middle with pockets of character-developing downtime leading to the kind of crescendo that READY PLAYER ONE ignites from the get-go.

Taking place about fifty years from now in the usual raggedy dystopic future, this particular urban wasteland's known as The Stacks, which the living quarters are, one atop the other. But a virtual reality game-world, Oasis, has become a sparkling haven beyond the squalor, and as people play into the games wearing helmets, walking on treadmills, etc., their avatars fight to stay alive while... and here's the plot... trying to find three keys that Oasis's dead founder left — for then the winner takes over the half-a-trillion dollar company...

Lloyd? You Around?
Steven Spielberg seems almost too perfect as director since this otherworld is loaded with not only an abundance of 80's references but earlier gems like CITIZEN KANE (he owns one of the Rosebud sleds), SILENT RUNNING and even the STAR WARS prequels...

PITFALL is even mentioned... a personal favorite
One "Easter egg" in particular was extremely joyful to catch: the name of a makeshift bar/garage with a sign that reads, COCKTAILS & DREAMS, Bryan Brown's cheesy name for he and Tom Cruises's future bar in... COCKTAIL, with the same font and vapid neon colors.

And then there's music such as Van Halen's electrogasm hit, Jump, and the mention of just about every Atari 2600 Game Gen-Xers grew up playing. But what's most important about our known-for-his-flow director is, while not getting too deep into fleshing out the characters (sayeth mostly fans of the source novel), there's a nice balance between the real world and the virtual one so that each player means a little more than their endless bouts of action in that other place...

Score: ***1/2
Which includes a trip inside THE SHINING's Overlook Hotel (and snow maze), the Stanley Kubrick horror classic that his good friend Spielberg compared to Kabuki theater. This is probably the best scene in the rollercoaster ride of a mind trip adventure, and the small band of characters are, here and in other locations, able to open up comically without seeming too Marvel—  although PLAYER ONE is really a two man... or rather, one man and a girl... show...

The worst bar name in movie history
That's where the pop culture science-fiction yarn turns into your basic HUNGER GAMES type of poor underdog rebels vs Fascist corporate monsters (literally in some cases), and this melodramatic aspect prolongs an otherwise entertaining and jovially lightweight experience into a motion picture that doesn't quite know when to end: Then again, Spielberg's most important film (though JAWS is still his best!), SCHINDLER'S LIST, had the same problem. In that it was historical retribution, and here's it's the gobs of future-world exposition, which provides another slight roadblock. Making a sequel would be pretty logical since, having suffered through so many rules of the game, it'd be nice to simply play along with those playing within the... by that time... familiar enough territory.
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