If you are a fan of the hit serial Stranger Things and old enough to feel cheated and let down by Hollywoods recent and lackluster big-screen adaptations of your childhood favorites such as The A-Team, Baywatch, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power-Rangers, and Ghostbusters, then you are going to enjoy Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One. Co-written by the author of the 2011 novel Ernest Cline (with Zak Penn), Ready Player One differs somewhat from the novel such as a less intimidating portrayal of villain Nolan Sorrento (portrayed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's Ben Mendelsohn), a kinder portrayal of The Oasis' creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance), and the members of the High Five; Parzival, Aech, Art3mis, Sho, and Daito meeting "in-real-life" much earlier in the narrative of the movie. These and other differences from the novel actually make the big-screen adaptation of Ready Player One a much more enjoyable, family friendly and quintessentially a more traditional Spielberg experience, something of which the novel and its author hoped the movie would achieve.
Some detractors, such as Janet Maslin (New York Times) have criticized Cline's novel for being too nostalgic and referential and relying too much on the video-gaming parallels used to depict the Oasis. Such critics and even fans of Cline's debut novel have since voiced concerns that the big-screen adaptation would be a nostalgia-driven exploitation of the childhood of a generation, much like the aforementioned recent plethora of '80s childhood favorites. While Spielberg's Ready Player One is filled with nostalgic easter eggs throughout, the abundance of such cameos actually support the main characters hunt to find Halliday's fabled easter egg within the Oasis, helping the audience to associate with the character while also giving pop-culture fans a monumental easter egg hunt of their own. Since the release of the movie, a wave of videos has bombarded YouTube in an attempt to discover all of the movies easter eggs, cameos, and references, but so far they have only scratched the surface of the literal and inferred artefacts waiting to be discovered, such as the 1979 Big Trak, Spawn, The Gremlins and Rylance's Garth-like (1992's Waynes World) portrayal of Halliday. Thankfully, thanks to Spielberg's expert direction this virtual, metaphorical and literal nostalgic egg hunt is played against a heart-warming story about identity, friendship, and freedom as perceived through the eyes of the movies leading young cast, which is reminiscent of classic, vintage '80's movies such as E.T., The Goonies, and The Breakfast Club.
Less nostalgia driven audiences will appreciate the movies narrative similarities to classic movies such as 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1982's Tron, and 1987's The Running man, of which the movie can be best described as an expert weaving of all three such movies in Spielberg's classic and beloved style. The film does have some shortfalls, such as Hannah John-Kamen's one-dimensional portrayal of hench-woman F'Nale Zandor, and Mendelsohn's aforementioned portrayal of a more inept version of Nolan Sorrento, but with set pieces including the Overlook Hotel from Stanley Kubrick's classic 1980 chiller The Shining, Mecha-Godzilla's third act appearance, and the King Kong dominated racetrack there is plenty to keep nostalgia fans, Spielberg fans, and fans of the '80's entertained across multiple viewings.
As for the audiences easter egg hunt; expect hundreds, if not thousands to have been discovered when Ready Player One is released on DVD and Blu-Ray. Until then good hunting!
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