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Missing the Spielberg magic: Rashid Irani reviews Ready Player One

In a future dystopia, when man has escaped into a parallel virtual reality, gamers must chase down a bounty like no other.

movie reviews Updated: Mar 29, 2018 17:12 IST
Rashid Irani
Rashid Irani
Hindustan Times
Steven Spielberg,Ernest Cline,Artificial Intelligence
The action devolves from time to time into soap opera-ish scenes between the lovey-dovey young couple at the forefront of the action.
  • Direction: Steven Spielberg
  • Actors: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke
  • Rating: 3 / 5

The good news is, it’s Steven Spielberg. The not-so-good news: The Spielberg sci-fi magic is missing in this adaptation of Ernest Cline’s young-adult novel.

This is no AI: Artificial Intelligence or Minority Report; or indeed any of the scores of other pop culture classics referenced throughout the film.

Ready Player One is set in a dystopian cityscape, circa 2045. The world is so desolate that humans have sought refuge in a Utopian virtual-reality universe.

The death of the inventor (Mark Rylance, a Spielberg regular lately) of one such mega-tech system, Oasis, sparks a bizarre treasure hunt where gamers must race across digital worlds in search of a multi-million-dollar prize that will include control of the entire VR kingdom.

The plot is driven by a bizarre treasure hunt that will give the winners a multi-million-dollar prize and control of the entire VR kingdom of Oasis. There’s too much chaos on the screen, though, to focus on the wonders of this new world, or the plot.

The treasure hunters include a pair of geeky teenagers (Tye Sheridan-Olivia Cooke) determined to vanquish a rival corporate honcho (Ben Mendelsohn).

It is difficult to get excited about the thrills offered in the ostensible videogame paradise; one’s eyes are confounded rather than dazzled by the swirling chaos.

The action devolves from time to time into soap opera-ish scenes between the lovey-dovey couple. The film’s unwieldy two-and-a-half-hour runtime is another deterrent.

There is a truly terrific pastiche / homage to Stanley Kubrick’s cult classic, The Shining. But all in all, Spielberg would do well to return to the real world.

First Published: Mar 29, 2018 17:12 IST