The entertainment industry these days is built on the back of the 80s. The pulpy and vibrant blood, sweat and tears shed by entertainment’s most formative decade has seen it granted a second life, as many modern-day consumers pine for a decade they missed out on. But this 80s exploitation and nostalgia aren’t happening for no reason. No sir, the 80s kids are replicating their favourite years because what they know best and it’s what entertains the most. Who knows, maybe 20 years from now we’ll be looking back on Game of Thrones, the Marvel movies and ‘Gangnam Style’ with nostalgia goggles firmly on.
But if there were ever one work to encapsulate this 80s trip, it’s Ernest Cline’s “pop culture holy grail” Ready Player One. This coming March, Cline’s smash hit novel is finally arriving on the big screen, in the capable hands of one Steven Spielberg no less. An 80s maestro if ever there were one.
Starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Simon Pegg, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller and Mark Rylance, Ready Player One takes place in the future, in a world in which Planet Earth is on its last legs as a stable society. But this impending dystopia has a saving grace – the OASIS, an immersive VR experience, epic in scope, populated by millions of regular users and filled to the brim with pop culture worlds, characters, missions and easter eggs. Think The Sims meets Skyrim, by way of an 80s entertainment crash course. But the OASIS will forever change when its creator James Halliday (Rylance) dies, leaving behind a will which reveals that he has hidden a series of clues within the OASIS, the discovery of which will lead to an easter egg abd the ultimate prize. One lowly user, a Halliday superfan Wade Watts (Sheridan) stumbles upon this first clue, thus initiating an OASIS wide manhunt for the Halliday’s egg and his fortune.
What sets Ready Player One out from every other blockbuster this coming year is the sheer inventiveness and visual spectacular. Whilst the story itself is enamouring and the characters endearing, the world of Ready Player One, the OASIS in particular, will be like nothing you have ever seen before. To bring this creative bonanza to life, Spielberg reportedly created sets on an unparalleled level, and if his blockbuster track record is anything to go by, the action within his creation should be incredible.
The pop culture battle royale style of the film promises to be an exhilarating experience for the eyes and ears (we’ve already seen glimpses of The Iron Giant, Deadpool, Freddy Krueger and Link), but it would be nothing without the great cast behind it. Sheridan is clearly a rising star in the industry, one whom Spielberg clearly has a lot of faith in, Olivia Cooke was sensational in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, T.J. Miller is always comedic gold, this feels like the perfect film for Hollywood’s resident geek Simon Pegg, Mendelsohn is establishing himself as one of the business’ most sought-after character actors, and Rylance is Spielberg’s new go-to guy, like Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks before him. It’s a thrilling ensemble who look set to elevate Cline’s fantastic material (he serves as the movie’s screenwriter also).
Ready Player One promises to be, above all, unique. In a world of sequels, reboots, remakes and spin offs, Hollywood’s greatest living director is back with a movie from the 80s generation, for the new generation, with visuals on a totally new stage to anything ever witnessed before. The master is back, and he’s ready to define a generation all over again.
Ready Player One (2018), directed by Steven Spielberg is set for a UK cinema release of March 30th, certificate tbc.