High Five for virtual thrills
Ready Player One (12A) The DeLorean screeches past as the Iron Giant stomps around and The Joker and Harley Quinn share a laugh.
If that sounds like a cinematic pipe dream then think again as Steven Spielberg’s take on Ernest Cline’s seminal, award-winning 2011 sci-fi novel treats us to a shared universe to make even Marvel blush.
It’s all possible due to fantastical virtual reality world the OASIS, where regular user Wade (Tye Sheridan) lives out his days among too many famous pop culture icons to mention in the year 2045.
Wade and others are drawn into a three-part contest where the winner gets to take total control of the OASIS following the death of its creator, James Halliday (Mark Rylance).
Having never read Cline’s book, I went into this intriguing-sounding blockbuster totally blind; and was all the better for it with several surprises taking me on a gripping adventure.
There’s a lot more to Spielberg’s latest – his second film this year after The Post — than playing spot the familiar face as the legendary director furnishes us with equal levels of drama in both the real world and the OASIS.
Sheridan handles his biggest role to date with great aplomb and even acting veterans would struggle to match the sizzling chemistry he and Olivia Cooke (Samantha) share.
What Ready Player One does lack, though, is genuinely chilling villainy; Ben Mendelsohn is surprisingly subdued as relentless CEO Sorrento and leaves you pining for Spielberg to somehow use the OASIS to resurrect Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Belloq or even Bruce the shark from Jaws.
Cline himself co-wrote the screenplay with Zak Penn (X-Men 2, Avengers Assemble) and the latter’s knack for layering a big-budget production with warmth, humour and interesting physical and emotional challenges is prevalent once again.
It wouldn’t be a Spielberg movie without disrupted family dynamics and Wade, Samantha and the other OASIS players who form the “High Five” give off a Lost Boys – and Girls – of Neverland vibe.
The director has never been shy of a timeless set-piece and the breathless visuals will leave you exhilarated, on edge and a little dizzy.
There is so much going on up on the screen that it’s impossible to take it all in on a single viewing; I look forward to poring over multiple scenes, with slow-mo button at the ready on my remote, when the movie hits DVD shelves.
Fist-pumping eighties tunes create a sensational soundtrack that will hammer the eardrums of those of a certain age – myself included – with nostalgia.
Hints of The Matrix and Avatar there may be, but Ready Player One stands on its own two feet as a tantalising thrill ride worthy of Spielberg’s greatness.
Cline is already penning a sequel and it’s not hard to understand why. This is a world you won’t be ready to say goodbye to.
Cinema with Ian Bunting Game on Sheridan prepares to plug in to the OASIS