Spielberg Gets Nostalgic in Ready Player One
Dozens of 1980s references are 'too sweet to spoil,' critic says
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 30, 2018 9:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One, adapted from Ernest Cline's 2011 novel of the same name, is set in 2045, but it's clearly homesick for the 1980s. Packed with nostalgic references, it follows gamer Wade Watts on a quest to take control of a virtual-reality world in which people now spend most of their time. Here's what critics are saying:

  • David Sims calls it "a decent meal with tantalizing hints of something more complex." Given that Ready Player One's virtual-reality world is built around "pop-culture artifacts," Spielberg could've done a lot more than simply lob nostalgia at the audience, Sims writes at the Atlantic. He also says Tye Sheridan is "an inescapably dull hero." Then again, "there are far worse worlds one could get lost in, and far worse filmmakers to get stuck on a quest with."
  • Christy Lemire liked Ready Player One, but found it didn't leave a lasting impression. The movie is "forward-thinking in its technology, with a combination of gritty live action and glossy CGI." One particular scene boasts "the cleverest use of CGI within a live-action setting," she writes at RogerEbert.com. But "wallowing in '80s nostalgia is only so much fun for so long." And the film leaves "you wondering what its point is beyond validating the insularity of ravenous fandom."

  • Adam Graham is more effusive. Ready Player One is "a gloriously geeky ode to the last 40 years of pop culture wrapped up in a thrilling old-school adventure tale" and "a blast of pure childlike amusement," he writes at Detroit News. "Beyond its encyclopedic citations of pop culture past, it has a kinetic energy and big picture feel all its own" and "feels like a new classic," Graham adds. Consider it "a just reward for spending way too much of your life camped out in front of your television."
  • Peter Travers had fun, too. The film is "a mindbending joyride that jacks you into a fantasia bursting with CGI wonders." There are a host of 1980s references "too sweet to spoil" and "enough battles and showdowns to fill a dozen movies," he writes at Rolling Stone. "Is it overkill? You bet. But Spielberg's visual inventiveness is unflagging." Plus, Lena Waithe, playing Watts' best bud, is "absolutely terrific—every movie should have her."

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