READY PLAYER ONE Is A Parade Of Pop Culture References…And It’s So Damn Fun

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Ready Player One finally hits theaters this weekend; it’s directed by Steven Spielberg, and is based on the book by Ernest Cline, with a screenplay by Cline and Zak Penn.

In 2044, the majority of people spend most of their time in the OASIS, a virtual reality world created by ubernerd James Halliday. When Halliday passes away, he reveals a quest hidden within the OASIS, and whoever fulfills the quest wins the creator’s riches and full ownership of the VR world. Now a race is underway between a group of teens who want to keep Halliday’s vision alive and a rival corporation who wants to monetize the crap out of it.

Here’s some inside baseball for you: bad movies are easy to review. They’re so distractingly bad that all you notice are the flaws. Instead of getting sucked into the story, you sit there thinking, “that’s bad acting; that’s bad writing; that makes no sense.”

Ready Player One is not a bad movie.

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ready player oneFrom Cline’s source material, Spielberg has created a flick that’s pure fun to watch. The OASIS and action sequences are incredibly well-crafted, and it is so easy to just get lost in the moment. You’re instantly absorbed into this story and this world, so much so that you don’t even notice whatever minor flaws the movie has. And if you do notice, you don’t really care; you’re too busy having fun.

Yes, RPO heavily uses pop culture Easter eggs and nostalgia, and it’s wonderful. If you’re the kind of person that can’t stand that stuff, I have two pieces of advice for you. One, stay at home and spare us your whining; no one’s forcing you to see this. Two, remember that movies are first and foremost meant to entertain. Ready Player One is a love letter to pop culture, from video games to movies, and from blockbusters like Jurassic Park to horror movies like The Shining to classics like Citizen Kane. Even the stuffiest of film fans should fine a reference to enjoy. Spielberg is reminding us of the things we love while giving us a whole new world to love in itself.

Perhaps the most refreshing bit of RPO is that, while it is fun, it’s not dumb fun. There’s a clear message about our technology-obsessed culture. And while you could guess that just from the trailers, it still adds just enough substance to the film to make it more than an endless parade of “hey, I understood that reference!”

A good movie, A) is rewatchable, and B) sucks you into the story. Ready Player One checks both of these boxes. If you’re looking for pure popcorn entertainment that reminds you why you love going to the movies (or the arcade), be sure to catch Spielberg’s latest this weekend.