"Ready Player One" stands ready to take over the box office
In a world where you can be anyone, or be anything, you go to the "The Oasis." And the virtual world is just that, a 3D respite from the impoverished lives of those living in the year 2045. Hero "Wade Watts" (Ty Sheridan) is an orphan, living with his aunt in a double-wide trailer in an area of Columbus, Ohio called "The Stacks." It's pretty much what it sounds like, trailer upon trailer stacked one above the other. Wade is left to fend for himself most of the time as he tries to stay away from the aunt's abusive boyfriend. He, like the rest of the world, is caught up in a fevered race to win a game that would put him in control of The Oasis. The game's founder, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), has died, but in his will he left an opportunity for visitors to "The Oasis" to become his heir, if they win a series of tests which provide them with a series of keys and eggs that unlock the secrets of the world's favorite virtual reality resort. Wade has made a few virtual friends along the way, including a character with part-human, part-machine avatar called "Aech" (sounds like "H"), a motor-cycle riding bad ass named "Art3mis" (Olivia Cooke) and two Samurai warriors "Sho" and "Daito." Although they've never met in the real world, they have banded together as the "High Five," a group working together to conquer the virtual world.
Thrown into the mix for good measure is IOI, a corrupt corporation with the sole mission of winning the competition and gaining control of The Oasis. The company has no qualms about loaning money to desperate players, and then indenturing them when they can't pay up. Think of it as an updated debtors prison. Ben Medelsohn continues his streak of being diabolically bad in almost every picture as the head of this major conglomeration. What takes place next is a battle for control in the virtual world and in the real one. Director Steven Spielberg, working with a script co-written by "Ready Player One" author Ernest Cline, deftly takes the audience into a virtual world filled with fantasy, friendship, romance, humor and 80s references. Spielberg, as only Spielberg can, does a wonderful job of making sure the special effects don't overwhelm or drag-out the story (something the folks at Marvel could learn). I have to admit when I first saw the trailer for "Ready Player One" I was not enthusiastic. Once the movie started going, I was quickly hooked and happily entered this virtual world where anyone can be anything, at least for a little while. "Ready Player One" is set to become the second blockbuster of 2018.