“Ready Player One” is Pure Imagination Come to Life

Earlier this year, San Diego Comic Com left us with our collective nerd jaws on the floor. The torrent of movies, games, television shows and comics unleashed at the world famous event gave fans more than enough to look forward to in the coming year. One such gem was the incredible trailer for “Ready Player One,” the film adaption of Ernest Cline‘s 2011 sci-fi novel.

Cline’s novel tells the story of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan, “X-Men: Apocalypse”), a teenager living in a dystopian future where a virtual reality gaming world called OASIS is the only escape from the harshness of his poverty-stricken life. In the trailer, Wade refers to the sprawling digital universe as a world where the limits of reality are your own imagination.” OASIS is more than just a game. That quickly becomes apparent when the creator of OASIS, the reclusive and mysterious James Halliday (Mark Rylance), dies prior to the start of the book and leaves players with the opportunity to inherit his entire fortune and company.

In order to win the prize, a player must locate an “easter egg” that Halliday hid deep within one of the OASIS worlds. It may sound simple, but there is always a catch. Halliday’s obsession with ’80s pop/geek culture pervades every last bit of the quest. Dungeons & Dragons, Schoolhouse Rock, the original Blade Runner” (not to be confused with Blade Runner 2049), “Zork” — the only way to find the prize is to know Halliday’s beloved ’80s favorites as well as he did.

Wade and other players like him devote their lives to doing just that, but Wade’s narration in the book reveals that players have been hunting for years with no success. Innovative Online Industries (IOI), the massive corporation planning to overtake OASIS in the wake of Halliday’s death, goes as far as to employ agents like Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn, “Bloodline,” “Rouge One: A Star Wars Story”) to invade OASIS in order to find the prize first. If they do, the corporation would gain near full control of Internet services across the world. Needless to say, Halliday’s treasure becomes one of the most sought after items in history.

One can imagine Wade’s shock when he becomes the first player in the world to discover the first clue. That discovery takes Wade on a journey through OASIS as his avatar, Parzival (a reference to King Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail), and he is joined by his two online friends and fellow clue hunters, Aech and Art3mis.

If the movie is anything like the book, the trio will be in for a wild ride. The teaser trailer pictures Wade living in the trailer park city of towering “stacks” (as a proud northerner, I can assure you that Columbus, OH, does not look like that) and opens with him entering the stunning world of OASIS. From there, director Steven Spielberg seems to take a page right out of Cline’s book and bombards us with a staggering amount of pop culture easter eggs and nostalgia.

We see everyone from Harley Quinn to the Iron Giant as a gorgeous rendition of “Pure Imagination” plays in the background. The trailer picks up speed when Akira’s lightcycle, the Delorean, the A-Team van and several other wheeled icons are pictured roaring through a virtual New York City. Unfortunately, the trailer is painfully short and does not offer much detail as to how Spielberg’s interpretation, touted as “the holy grail of pop culture,” will differ from the book.

Reading “Ready Player One” might be a fantastic way to wrap up what has been a nostalgia-packed year in entertainment. While the movie will no doubt be a blast even for those that have not read the book, indulging in that extra layer might help you spy a few surprises in the movie or, at the very least, help you step up your trivia game.

Be ready to play for keeps when “Ready Player One” opens in theaters on March 30, 2018.

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