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‘Ready Player One’ is Steven Spielberg at his most glorious and most frustrating

After a shaky start the nostalgia rollercoaster picks up steam and proves to be thoroughly thrilling
Ready Player One
[Image: Warner Bros]

‘Ready Player One’
Director:
Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke
Rating: PG-13
3.5 (Out of 5) Globes

Plot: In a dystopian 2045 the inhabitants of an overpopulated Earth are piled on top of each other and spend their time engaged in the virtual reality world of the OASIS, where they can work, be educated and be entertained.

Its creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) posthumously hid Easter Eggs and clues in the OASIS, though, and the first to find three of them gains full ownership of the game, which is worth over half a trillion dollars.

Once Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) gains the first clue he strikes up a partnership with Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), but the pair soon become sought after by the CEO of Innovative Online Industries Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), who wants full control of the OASIS.

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Review: In 100 years, when film scholars are looking back at the career of Steven Spielberg and rightfully labelling him the greatest filmmaker of all time, “Ready Player One” will be used as the primary piece of evidence to showcase the best and worst of the director.

That’s because the highs of the film are so very, very high that you are practically giddy with the excitement it generates, while its lows repeatedly anchor the blockbuster and mean it always falls short of greatness.

Surprisingly for Spielberg, who is usually always so adept at captivating and pulling in his audience from the very first scene, “Ready Player One” actually begins in a clunky and heavy-handed manner. It is eventually able to shake off the former deficiency, especially once Spielberg nosedives into its increasingly impressive set-pieces, but, outside of its action, the film always goes for the obvious rather than the nuanced.

To be fair to Spielberg you can understand why, as “Ready Player One” cost around $175 million to make and he is clearly aiming it for as mainstream an audience as possible. But, in comparison to the edge of “Deadpool” and “Logan” and the personalities from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Ready Player One’s” characters, arcs and message feel tame, and renders the film itself hollow.

But all of those issues wash away when “Ready Player One” is in full flow, as Spielberg’s innate eye for detail, where to perfectly place the camera during the action and how to build momentum means that its positives immediately disintegrate the negatives.

Especially because its script and shots are littered with charming tips of the hat and visual references to classic pieces of pop culture. And while “Ready Player One” is admittedly another example of Spielberg elongating his ending to a frustrating extent, it is ultimately too feel-good and enjoyable to bear it any ill will.