Ready Player One

Mar 28, 2018

Spielberg calling home once again with adventuresome, nostalgic pop culture.

Ready Player One

Grade: B

Director: Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of a Third Kind)

Screenplay: Zak Penn (The Avengers), Ernest Cline (Fanboys), based on the novel by Cline.

Cast: Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse), Olivia Cooke (Thoroughbreds)

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 2 hr 20 min

by John DeSando

Steven Spielberg’s world has always been virtual realities of adventure and nostalgia, from Indiana Jones and ET to Close Encounters. Once again in Ready Player One he goes adventure- fantastical into the gamers’ world of the virtual where a hunt for an egg can be Easter’s annual hunt or a serious search for happiness among goggles and graft. This film is solid Spielberg, not great Spielberg but with enough pop-cult allusions to please even the most fervid geek.

Young Parzival (Tye Sheridan) is the likeliest gamer to discover the three keys that will win the Easter egg and the vast Oasis empire, which has enslaved the world to games, and my Columbus, Ohio, in 2045. More like “mesmerized” because the world of trash and piled-high trailers or “stacks” is what the virtual gamers like him are hoping to escape.

No need for me, at least, to see how our civilization, and my precious city, is in danger of enslavement by smart phones.  Just look anywhere in public to see the absorption technology engenders to the exclusion of old-fashioned socializing.

Recently I was a visiting professor at a high-end college classroom. As I walked in 10 minutes before class, every one of the 13 students was on a smart phone. Very depressing image about a time I used to cherish as an undergrad to gossip and schmooze face to face.

It’s not difficult to figure out Spielberg’s game of warning us all about our consuming games and more universally, smart phones. Yet that acclaimed director keeps his childlike fascination with the complexities of family and love, as Tye, like us, finds there’s no place like the home and love, the latter the most real place on earth. Although the film misses the intimacy and poetry of his greatest hits, it provides enough adventure and sentiment to please the general public.

Although great director Spielberg can dazzle with graphics lovely to behold, he still juxtaposes those fantasies with real world shenanigans, bad guys and all.  You’ll want to find a zero-gravity dance hall right after the movie; Spielbergean sentiment will have you do it with your best love, not some virtual fantasy.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at