Steven Spiel­berg’s re­turn to ’ 80s geek nir­vana

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In a cin­e­matic land­scape dom­i­nated by the fa­mil­iar likes of Star Wars and the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse, a big- bud­get block­buster that isn’t based on an ex­ist­ing se­ries is a rare thing in­deed. While Ready Player One is the new­bie that bucks the trend, how­ever, it will feel com­fort­ingly fa­mil­iar – this movie is set to bring to­gether bits and pieces from as many dis­parate fran­chises as The Lego Movie did back in 2014.


Adapted from Ernest Cline’s best­selling de­but novel, Ready Player One is set in an over- pop­u­lated fu­ture where fos­sil fu­els have all but run out, and the hu­man race es­capes the mis­ery of its ev­ery­day ex­is­tence by re­treat­ing into a so­phis­ti­cated vir­tual re­al­ity sys­tem known as the OASIS. When OASIS in­ven­tor James Hal­l­i­day dies, the geeky, Steve Jobs- ish fig­ure leaves be­hind a com­plex Easter Egg hunt – the first per­son to reach the end will win con­trol of Hal­l­i­day’s vast busi­ness em­pire.


Good news for mem­bers of gen­er­a­tions X and Y! Hal­l­i­day was to­tally ob­sessed with ’ 80s pop cul­ture, so all the puz­zles he sets are based around the movies, TV, mu­sic, books, comics and games he grew up with. In Cline’s novel, many de­vote their en­tire lives to the search for Hal­l­i­day’s Easter Egg. Known as “gun­ters” ( short for Egg hunters), they re­vise every­thing they can about ’ 80s pop cul­ture – from ar­cade games to song lyrics to Monty Python movie di­a­logue – to help them in their quest.


Christo­pher Nolan was briefly linked with the movie, but see­ing as Steven Spiel­berg prob­a­bly had his fin­ger­prints over more ’ 80s clas­sics than any­one else, it’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine a bet­ter fit for the Ready Player One di­rect­ing gig. “It’s clas­sic Spiel­berg, right in the cen­tre of the sweet spot of re­ally his clas­sic work,” ex­plains pro­ducer Don­ald De Line. “There could be no one bet­ter to bring this to the screen.”


The story fo­cuses on teen orphan gunter Wade ( avatar name Parzi­val), who’ll be played by X- Men: Apoc­a­lypse’s new Cy­clops Tye Sheri­dan. Ri­val gunter Sa­man­tha Cook/ Art3mis will be played by Me And Earl And The Dy­ing Girl’s Olivia Cooke, while Si­mon Pegg has re­port­edly signed on to play Hal­l­i­day’s old busi­ness part­ner Og­den Mor­row. Chief vil­lain du­ties go to Ben Men­del­sohn ( soon to be a bad­die in Star Wars: Rogue One) as the egg- hunt­ing face of a mas­sive cor­po­ra­tion that wants con­trol of the OASIS for it­self.


While De­Line says that “We’ve had pretty darn good luck with get­ting all the var­i­ous games and char­ac­ters and brands to sign on [ to ap­pear in the movie],” we won’t be see­ing any of the nu­mer­ous nods to Spiel­berg’s fil­mog­ra­phy that ap­pear in the novel. “The movie won’t have any of my films in it,” says the di­rec­tor. “I’m just go­ing to leave my­self out of it. I can’t do that. Too self- ref­er­en­tial.”


Hav­ing moved from its orig­i­nal De­cem­ber 2017 slot to avoid Star Wars: Episode VIII, Ready Player One is now pen­cilled in for 30 March 2018.

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