“Ready Player One”

Release Date: March 29, 2018

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language)

I ventured into the cineplex to view “Ready Player One” knowing that I am not part of the target demographic for the film, but also realizing that I was longing for the visionary work of Steven Spielberg, who is both director and producer of this effort.

Whether it was the subject matter of a virtual reality world, or the 140 minutes running time, I found myself alternating between nodding off and being somewhat interested as the story unfolded. 

Set in the year 2045, the reality of life is so unpleasant that folks find their escape in the virtual world known as OASIS, created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance), an eccentric, beloved, iconic genius that seems equal parts Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, and Stan Lee.   The convoluted plot, written by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline based on Cline’s 2011 science-fiction novel, involves Halliday leaving his fortune and control of OASIS to the winner of a contest.  That’s where a young man named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) comes into play, as he and several peers, known as the High Five, attempt to win the three keys during a virtual treasure hunt as they compete against an evil tech executive named Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn). 

The film is visually pleasing and is filled with dozens of pop culture references ranging from early Atari video games to the appearance of the Batmobile from the 1960s television series.  And yet, for all its big screen, thrill ride scope, the action sequences are repetitious, and I found this film to be emotionally flat – which is so unlike a Spielberg offering.  For me, that lack of empathy made it game over for “Ready Player One.”

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