If you're a pop culture enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to see Ready Player One. Every scene seems to be filled with such. That's why watching the film feels like a game of "Name the reference".

After seeing the trailer, I was worried about the movie not being anything more than its pop culture references. So I read the book just to get a grasp of the story. If you're a die-hard fan of the source material, you would not be happy to hear that the movie changed a lot of plot points. At best, it's a loose adaptation of Ernest Cline's novel. I personally didn't mind, as the movie was still highly entertaining.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

In Ready Player One, the world is suffering because of an energy crisis. To seek refuge, people log on to the virtual world known as the Oasis, where anyone can be and do anything. It's basically an MMO, except that everyone uses virtual reality goggles and haptic gloves. The Oasis was created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance), who was a huge 80s geek. Upon his death, Halliday posthumously announced that he had hidden an easter egg somewhere in the Oasis for a lucky person to find. Whoever gets hold of this egg will obtain all of the creator's inheritance.

The story is told through the eyes of Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a "gunter", short for egg hunter, who has spent years looking for clues of the egg's location. The film's conflict comes in the form of the IOI corporation, which wants the egg for full control over the Oasis. In the challenges that would lead up to the easter egg's location, Wade and co. have to go head-to-head with the corporation's hired avatars, along with millions of other gunters whose avatars are based on familiar figures.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The movie may be chock-full of cameos, but that's what makes it so fun. If anything, these appearances are the only reason you need to watch the movie. Everything else, graphics, storyline, cinematography, and others are secondary. It's because you would never think to see Tracer and Chun Li in the same scene, or watch a Xenomorph bursting out of Goro's chest. While many only serve as background extras, few popular franchise characters are actually vital to the plot.

While Ready Player One heavily banks on nostalgia, it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. There's never a dull moment in the film, thanks to the elaborate set pieces which are sometimes a nod to geek culture. The movie gets even better as it progresses. Without spoiling it for you, let me just say that the final battle is, in my opinion, the most enjoyable sequence.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The film does have glaring weak points, however. For one, it's the fact that many parts of the narrative felt rushed, especially in the first act. If you weren't properly paying attention, you would be sure to miss out on important details. A concrete example would be the budding romance between Wade and the female lead, Art3mis (Olivia Cooke). There's a lack of a build up there, which is why Wade's sudden confession of love seems ridiculous.

Another point is how the film doesn't quite touch on the real world's ominous situation, or how a whole generation of people have succumbed to a piece of technology, which I think is a lost opportunity. It feels as if many scenes were left on the cutting room floor in order to make the movie suitable for a theatrical release. Hence, I'm very curious to see the Director's Cut.

There's nothing else I should discuss really, as Ready Player One's lifeblood is its geek references. It's a massive tribute to many franchises, and you'll definitely want to watch it again so that you can catch other references or appearances you may have missed in your first viewing. If anything, it's one of the more flashy additions to Steven Spielberg's recent works.

About the author: Stef Atega

GameGulp's current overlord. Stef is obsessed with cats and anything horror. She also likes shounen anime and Japanese food but refuses to be called a "weeaboo". She believes in the power of indie games.

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