Ernest Cline’s snide, pandering wish-fulfillment novel Ready Player One is hot garbage, but Steven Spielberg is one of the best directors ever to expose film to light, so there’s a better than even chance he’ll be able to spin some gold out of this particualr pile of straw. Sadly, even the ‘Berg has his off days, and looking at this new trailer, it seems we’re getting Hook/The Lost World Spielberg, not Jaws/Raiders/any one of a dozen classic films Spielberg. Bugger.
Set in the not too distant future, Ready Player One follows the exploits of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) one of millions of people who spend their lives in the OASIS, a massive VR simulation packed to the gills with things that Cline liked when he was a kid. When the creator of OASIS (Mark Rylance) dies, he reveals that he’s built a hidden Easter egg into OASIS, and whoever finds it will earn big bank and control of OASIS itself. And so our hero is off and running, with only his exhaustive reservoir of pop culture trivia giving him an edge in his quest.
The whole thing feels crass, hinging on the notion that your ability to name all the Street Sharks by heart or sing the theme song to M.A.S.K. is a special talent and not a mark of catastrophic social dysfunction. And while we’ll admit to a Pavlovian response to seeing the Akira bike, the Back to the Future DeLorean, the Iron Giant… er… Iron Giant, and whatever other thousand or so pop culture artifacts that litter this couple of minutes of footage, there’s just something particularly distasteful about a narrative whose sole function is to feed the egos of people who think culture peaked when they were 10. 99% percent of pop culture is already geared towards 40ish manchildren with ridiculous amounts of discretionary income – canting this much farther into that space just feels crude and greedy. Surely we’re better than this.
Still, on the bright side, there’s Ben Mendelsohn evilling it up – everything’s better with Mendo. We guess.
Ready Player One is in Australian cinemas from March 29, 2018.