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Ready Player One is Film's Hidden Oasis

Author: Zak Qureshi
16-Apr-2018

Category: Opinion

Ready Player One is a dystopian science fiction story written by Ernst Cline in 2011 and adapted to film by Spielberg in 2018. It is a mesmerising journey that feels special even if every reference doesn't resonate with you on that deep, personal level.

Ready Player One is Film's Hidden Oasis
I just came back from watching Ready Player One and everything feels sort of surreal. The whole journey home, my sister and I both felt as if we were in a movie or something, but it didn't feel like the reality we had come to know. Now I know that “Going outside is highly overrated”, but I had been eagerly waiting to see this movie since the day I first saw the trailer. The remix of Pure Imagination was mesmerising and perfectly sets us up for what this is. So much has changed since I first saw the trailer. I read the book, and it's currently my favourite book ever. I've tried to watch as many references as I could before I see the movie, so I can appreciate its nudges. Backstory aside, player one is ready. 

I'll probably look more closely at comparisons between the adaptation and the original separately, but generally, this was not like the book. The challenges were different, the events transpired differently and characters developed differently. I don't think this is a bad thing. I can appreciate both versions as standalone visions on the same concept and adore both. Using both to paint a singular picture makes it even more vibrant, like seeing a different side to it all. For me, the most polarising cut was Anorak's Almanac, a sort of Bible for the Gunters. I actually use it as a list of things I need to watch/play. But the use of the curator makes a lot of sense for the film, making everything much more visual. 

Ready Player One is Film's Hidden Oasis
The OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation) is magic. Not magical; it itself is just electronic magic. It evokes a pure sense of childlike wonder that was set free and dominated the vision of the movie. Spielberg was the only director who could take this book and adapt it so well. He changed it while keeping it strong enough to its roots so that it remains reminiscent of what readers loved about it.

The most notable thing from every piece of promotional material for this film is the number of references to a wide spectrum of pop culture. This was Spielberg recognising and appreciating the greatness that we have to offer and culminating it into a singularity, wide example of commemoration. "It's fucking Chuckie!' Yes, it fucking was, and it was fucking awesome. This film does a better job of this than any other that I've seen try, such as Wreck-it Ralph and The Lego Movie. The scope of the whole project was bigger, and that lent itself great to the big ideas Spielberg has for things like this. While it would've been cool to see how sync-flicks would've been shown in the film adaptation, I found each challenge in the movie to be much more memorable than the one described in the book; to no fault of Cline. That race was glorious; truly something I hope becomes iconic in cinema. The recreation of The Overlook Hotel from The Shining is as haunting as it once was both literally and in how meticulously it was redone and crafted, and I haven't even seen The Shining.

Honestly, everything just felt like it was almost catered towards me. The fact Wade drove the DeLorean was so sick as I saw Back to the Future a week or so before and I was blown away by how good it was. The Zemeckis Cube was a wonderful inclusion as a nod to the director. The way he chose Staying Alive to dance with Art3mis to was a perfect choice. It was just well thought out. And the Iron Giant was beautiful to look at, as well as the Gundam. That was just so badass. I will probably watch a Gundam series in the near future now. 
         
And that's what this was, a celebration of all things pop culture. One may see something and think it looks cool, only to discover their new favourite movie *cough*The DeLorean*cough*.

Ready Player One is Film's Hidden Oasis
The plot was never a real standout thing, but it was endearing and charming. The characters were all developed well, honestly, everything subtly weaved into the story from the novel to here. While it would've been odd to see Wade not have a sense of remorse for his Aunt Alice's death, one can assume a sense of the Dursleys adopting Harry Potter from this. Wade Watts, the real name alias to his superhero name, Parzival, the knight who found the holy grail, was chosen by the curator and co-creator, Ogden Morrow as the saviour of the OASIS. It doesn't get much more badass than that... except for complete control of the OASIS, making Wade a Kirito-type character who actually earned his credentials. Samantha Cooke was arguably fleshed out a bit more in the movie adaptation, from an object of Wade's affection to a more fleshed out character. This seemed counter-intuitive considering her role as the damsel in distress when she was sent to the Loyalty Centre instead of Wade, but she ended up being a very pivotal character and strong for that. Daito and Sho at first seemed like extras to just tie to Japanese gamers, but they too were awesome characters. Daito was a badass dude who happened to be Japanese and Sho is the coolest 11-year-old in the world. The actors played their respective roles very well, I have no qualms with any portrayal of any of them. The dialogue is fun and quirky, as one would expect from major fanatics of pop culture (as I refrain from using the term "nerd" or "geek"). “You’re evil, you know that?” I said. 
She grinned and shook her head. “Chaotic Neutral, sugar.” 


As is standard with the imagination, things can be interpreted in different ways. One can make a cool link that seems to line up with a reference that could've been completely unintentional by the creator, but that makes their work even more special to the individual. For me, having Simon Pegg as Ogden Morrow was a complete homage to him as an actor and Edgar Wright as a director, considering the fact that he's been the main actor for 3/5 of his directorial films. Also, having the final challenge in an icy setting makes no sense until you consider the fact that Anorak's Castle was James Donovan Halliday's personal place of refuge since “I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn't know how to connect with the people there." His own fortress of solitude, if you will.

Ready Player One is Film's Hidden Oasis       
What can easily be seen as a cluster of CGI actually has a unique image and design. The worlds are beautiful, and the character designs are standout and pretty cool; I really want Parzival's denim jacket. The raw energy and Spielberg's love for filmmaking just emanated and oozed from every frame of this film and it was contagious. Everything popped and felt vibrant, and it never felt dreary when the fate of the world as they knew it hung in the balance of a video game easter egg hunt. 

What IOI tried to implement into the OASIS seems eerily similar to the repercussions of getting rid of net neutrality. It also saw the mass potential of virtual reality years before it really started to surge. These two ideas show how much of a visionary Cline is; we know that he invested his experience points into intelligence, and has now become clairvoyant. Joking aside, these ideas have yet to revolutionise the world as seen in his dystopia, but the mere fact that it predated the rise of such inventions is as remarkable as George Orwell's 1984 foreseeing the heinous acts of Big Brother. 

When the size of the world is infinitely larger than before, questions of existential proportions pop up, especially in a dystopian world of material deprivation. Stacks don't refer to a bunch of money, after all. These brief moments help humanise the characters: “Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One of over a hundred billion in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of the billions of other galaxies in the observable universe. This helped me keep things in perspective.” Halliday also teaches us about regret for not taking the leap. It's surely something I will keep in mind when it comes to making decisions. I've always tried to live without regrets, merely categorising missed opportunities as what they are - what-ifs. 

Ready Player One is Film's Hidden Oasis
“You'd be amazed how much research you can get done when you have no life whatsoever.” This is me writing up my thoughts on a movie I just saw on a Friday night, a minute and a half to midnight, because I want to talk about this movie. I had too many thoughts(so many that I had to come back and carry on writing weeks later) to make it a sensible review and so that's not what this is. The great thing about Ready Player One is that, in a way, I am admiring the work of almost everyone. Mainly Cline and Spielberg, but also Stephen King, Warren Robinett (creator of Adventure), Zemeckis and many, many more.  The whole discovery that reality is the only thing that's real may seem absolutely bonkers and almost redundant, but it can serve as a genuine reminder for people who like to stay inside and hide among the interwebs.

The bold move to close the OASIS on certain days shows the progression of the High Five as characters, in attempt to help the whole of humanity to progress. I may be pulling loose strings, but they're still attached to the film. I simply can't sing enough praises to this film for everything it tried to do and pulled off to varying degrees of success. This is a starting point into the world of cinema, gaming and everything pop culture. It encapsulates something truly special, and when the curtain comes down, we need some magic to believe in. 



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