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Ready Player One, the novel by Ernest Cline, on screen is a brilliant merger of the mind of Steven Spielberg and the adoption of the screenplay. Here is a film that any pop culture fanboy will cherish. With it premiering at this years SXSW Film Festival, the anticipation was quite high.

“I didn’t make this movie just for gamers, I made this for everybody.” ~ Steven Spielberg

Set in a dystopian trailer park in the city of Columbus in the year 2045. Within the trailer park stacks, you have Wade Watts, a real life nobody. In the virtual reality world, the Oasis, Wade finds himself to be a bit more. The Oasis is the primary way of life in the future. It is your entertainment, your fantasies, ambitions, and even your means to financial status. A world where gaming is life. Wade bares some remarkable friendships with some of the gaming elite in the alternative VR world. As you can imagine, he spends most of his time living strapped into his VR headset immersing himself in the Oasis. While there, surrounded by pop culture references that have become a way of life. These references stem from its’ creator the late James Halliday. Following his passing, it is announced that Halliday built one final game in the Oasis known as Anorak’s Quest. The mission calls for players to find three keys through a set of smaller objectives. Upon finding all three of Halliday’s keys, they will be granted the celebrated Easter Egg. This egg will give them full power and ownership of the Oasis and its assets in both worlds.

Wade Watts, whose avatar and handle is Parzival, becomes the first person to receive one of the coveted keys. In doing so draws the attention of legendary gamer, Art3mis, portrayed by Olivia Cooke. Wade also accidentally makes himself a mark for the Innovative Online Industries CEO Nolan Sorrento. Nolan, who is obsessed to take over the Oasis at any cost.

Pop Culture, Virtual Reality & Love Captivate The Hearts Of The Audience

I have to say that the combination of Spielberg, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, and the team at Industrial Light & Magic, knock this one out of the park. Capturing the VR setting and its’ potential to the big screen, to life is not an easy task for any studio. The vibe that the entire massively sized Oasis is derived from any and every fantasy you can conceive is phenomenal. Every landscape that you encounter in this film is full pop culture references, and they just are not part of the background but of the story itself.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this film, is not the incredible visual appeal and abundant references, but also the heart that Spielberg captures in this film. The message ultimately conveys that no matter how hard you try to design an artificial life, you should not lose sight of what the real world has to offer.

Spielberg does capture the character in James Halliday with inspiration and compassion between the struggle following your heart and chasing your ambitions. Not to mention the fellowship and bonds you acquire in life. There is so much emotional overtone mixed into the story that you end up leaving the theater feeling better about life.

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