But no one has done it quite as impressively, and has quite as much fun, as Spielberg and co do here.
The three-keys quest gives Ready Player One its simple structure, and it's a wonder it doesn't wear out its welcome, clocking in at a solid two-hours-and-20. So, there are a couple of things that he couldn't get because they were in lawsuits or something. The action has verve but no soul. Citizens the world over plug into a virtual reality called the Oasis which, by virtue of having been invented by a GenXer named Halliday (Mark Rylance, looking like a cross between Bill Gates and Garth from Wayne's World), is heavily influenced by all things '80s. It doesn't have to be this way; the superflat-inspired digital spaces of Mamoru Hosoda's Summer Wars are just as packed with detail but in a vivid, engrossing way.
Ready Player One accomplished something the book failed at: it managed to be dumb fun. The film is comprised of handsome shots filled with clutter and endless detail, much like how one would imagine the mind of a creator like Halliday, who is compared to Steve Jobs in the film, would be.
The glut of references is also the crux of the plot. Using Halliday's personal story and favorite pieces of pop culture history, users must search for clues and find the hidden Easter egg the creator left in the Oasis. No seriously, that's his only special quality. He is the embodiment of the nerdy white male lead whom a presumed nerdy white male audience is meant to project onto. In between the book and the movie, "Gamergate" exposed the toxicity of the video-game culture lionized here. Back to the Future, The Shining, Akira, The Iron Giant, Halo, Child's Play, Overwatch. Hell, he helped create and pave the way for numerous references and characters that were in the book. I was hooked! Every book has to go through a process of adaptation when it goes from a literary work to a cinematic one.
Spielberg's reputation as a master entertainer came with the release of "Jaws", his 1975 shark attack thriller. Their treatment of Halliday extrapolates the cult of Steve Jobs into full-on religion - children weep at news of his death, and Wade even falls to his knees upon meeting his avatar. I think we ended up with just the right elements to tell a truly wonderful story. All they need is imagination, and that will take them far in the OASIS.
"Why can't we go backwards for once?" he muses at one point, and it's the question on the mind of the nostalgia-obsessed "Ready Player One". "One would often hear, "...the story was weak but it looked unbelievable".
The movie, based on the popular book of the same name, is a return to a genre that Spielberg helped pioneer, which is why he says it made him nostalgic.
Watching the preview of "Ready Player One" at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square in Manhattan was awesome because the theater was jam packed with excited video game fans. The way the movie ends, however, changes the way the main theme of reconnecting with reality and valuing personal relationships over technology is relayed to Wade (and therefore the audience).
Sadly, numerous book's references to Spielberg's cultural artifacts have been stripped away, but he imbibes the movie with flashes of colour and heart that rekindle a sense of wonderment that will transport many viewers back to their childhoods.
The movie is set in a dystopian 2045 where most working-class people live in high-rise trailer parks, spending their lives working off an ever-accumulating mound of debt owed to a major corporation known as IOI.