Ready Player One
Steven Spielberg goes for broke but leaves you bleary-eyed in a bad way with Ready Player One, based on the very popular Ernest Cline novel. The film is so full of pop culture references that it doesn’t so much deliver them as visually vomit them into your face. Rather than relishing the opportunity for ’80s nostalgia, Spielberg opts for whiplash pacing and miscasting, squandering the chance to allow any of the fun elements to really sink in. They pass by so fast, the film comes off as more of an exercise for speed trivia aptitude than an attempt at a true narrative. The futuristic storyline involves something called the OASIS, a virtual reality world that is not only a pastime, but a total escape from real-world poverty and pollution. Wade (Tye Sheridan) lives in a place called the Stacks, basically manufactured homes piled on top of each other, and he whiles away many hours in the OASIS as his alter ego/avatar Parzival. There’s a plethora of pop culture cameos inside the OASIS, including King Kong, Freddy Krueger and the Iron Giant, but there’s very little substance. The story fails to engage and the whole thing amounts to a lot of imagery, occasionally interesting but mostly dull, flying by with little impact.