5 Ways to Prep: Ready Player One
By George Rose
April 2, 2018
From what the Ready Player One trailers promise us, the story is about a futuristic version of society where a corporation controls everything, everyone is poor and the only escape is a virtual reality world called Oasis. The creator of Oasis wants to be generous so he decides to pass this bazillion dollar chat room on to whoever can find the needle in the game-stack. This is where the rag-tag hero emerges and begs the audience to root for him instead of the big, bad Corp, which would have total control over the world if it had their hands on Oasis.
If this sounds like a movie (or several movies) that you’ve heard of before, that’s because it is. If that makes you nervous about the potential quality, then you are a smart person that can smell desperation from a mile away. If you know that the film is directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg and the early reviews are hovering around 80%, then maybe you’ll be a forgiving person and give the film a chance. Still not sold on the premise? Wait, there’s more!
There’s source material! Yes, Ready Player One was actually a book released in 2011. Great, that explains the same dystopian future every other Young Adult novel from the last decade has promised us. Not only is the movie not original (being a book adaptation), the original novel really isn’t either. Or maybe it is, I don’t know, but what the trailers promise us is that this Oasis is a land of virtual plagiarism. Some players have digital avatars that might be unique creations but it is the understanding of anyone who saw the trailer that there is tons of nostalgia here.
In the commercials alone, we know the following references will come to pass: King Kong, Jurassic Park, Iron Giant, Final Fantasy style CGI and… Chucky?! It’s basically a 80’s/90’s pop culture orgy. This would usually be a bad thing, like a Meet the Spartans mock-movie, but in the hands of Spielberg it has genuinely intriguing appeal to it. Then again, he has never partaken in such an overwhelming amount of reference juggling. Spielberg makes magic when he focuses on a core premise; Indiana Jones is the best treasure hunter, Jurassic Park is the best dinosaur movie, E.T. is the world’s most beloved alien, and so on. He can do it all and he already has.
Ready Player One, however, is a combination of so many other masterful works. It seems like a great idea but, aside from the already mentioned references, there seems to be MANY other “inspirations” for this film. Since it is such a complicated mess of ideas, I’m thinking it’s going to require a few more ways to prep than the usual five. What you should already know is that Spielberg is a genius, so if anyone is going to make this movie work it’s him. On paper, everything points to success. In reality, March 2018 is the stinky crap in the turd sandwich that is the waiting period between Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. In case do plan to see the movie, here are a few ways to help you prep for our last chance at a March blockbuster.
#1) THE MATRIX (1999)
BASIC PREMISE: In the world formerly ruled by people, artificial intelligence has taken control of the planet and now harvests humans for energy. In their comatose state, men and women exist in an online world knows as The Matrix but only The One can possibly help set them free.
HOW IT COMPARES: The real world is a wasteland and people are part of an online community, where gravity-defying action and imagination can help one meet their potential.
#2) TRON: LEGACY (2010)
BASIC PREMISE: Once upon a time, a man invented a digital world where anything was possible. That man’s entire physical form gets trapped in the game and decades later his son returns to help him escape, despite the growing intelligence of the now evolved technology.
HOW IT COMPARES: Unlike the Matrix, the few people inside Tron and the hordes inside Oasis are seemingly aware of where they are at all times. Except, people want to leave Tron while everyone else can’t wait to jump back into Oasis.
#3) HUNGER GAMES (2012)
BASIC PREMISE: The world is broken into twelve districts, the first for the richest and trickling down to the poorest in group twelve. Every year two people from each district gather to fight to the death with one winner, although it’s just to distract from the real problems of class warfare.
HOW IT COMPARES: It could be Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner or any other Young Adult book. In those movies and in this one, rich people suck and poor people prevail. The battleground in each is what separates their stories: deathmatches vs mazes vs video games.
#4) WRECK-IT RALPH (2012)
BASIC PREMISE: Speaking of video games, this brilliant animated Disney classic tells the action-packed story of what the characters in an arcade are up to after the shop closes.
HOW IT COMPARES: In Wreck-It Ralph, the people playing the games are not the same as the characters inside the game. In Ready Player One, the player is the character. What links the two is the endless potential of pop culture references inside the world of video games.
#5) WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)
BASIC PREMISE: A chocolate candy mogul decides to retire and pass off his entire company to one of five lucky shoppers that recently won a golden ticket found inside the candy.
HOW IT COMPARES: The core plot is exactly the same. The difference is that Willy Wonka narrows the entire world down to five before the final winner is crowned. In Ready Player One, the keys to Oasis can be acquired by consumers or corporations, and the latter never plays fair.
#6) INCEPTION (2010)
BASIC PREMISE: In a fairly realistic version of the modern world, a futuristic technology allows people to enter dream worlds to alter the subconscious of the unaware, sleeping host.
HOW IT COMPARES: The visuals in Ready Player One’s trailers seem very similar to Inception in that the secondary world can be built, broken and reorganized at the click of the thought. Then again, Inception borrowed some of those same fight sequence physics from The Matrix.
#7) PIXELS (2015)
BASIC PREMISE: Decades ago, the people of Earth sent a time capsule into space which included video games. Flash forward to today with aliens from afar assuming it was a declaration of war and using the video games as inspiration for weapons of mass destruction.
HOW IT COMPARES: In Ready Player One, the player enters the game and it is there that we see pop culture explode from the screen. In Pixels, our favorite (deadly) games come to us.
#8) X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (2016)
BASIC PREMISE: Marvel’s favorite non-Disney superheroes team up to fight an ancient evil.
HOW IT COMPARES: Though there can only be a single winner in Ready Player One, it will take a team of players with unique skills to conquer the nasty corporation. In both movies is Tye Sheridan, a rising Hollywood star that will spend half his screen time with obstructive eyewear.
#9) WORLD OF WARCRAFT (2004)
BASIC PREMISE: No, this isn’t the movie. This is the game the crappy movie was based on. It’s the “mass multiplayer online role playing game” (MMORPG) that became a worldwide phenomenon. People log on, play whatever missions they want and interact with others.
HOW IT COMPARES: When people play Warcraft, they accomplish small tasks in exchange for digital rewards of no real value. If the owner of the game ever decides to hand off the company to a player that found a hidden object, you’d see the game make a long-overdue comeback.
#10) POKÉMON GO (2016)
BASIC PREMISE: Not a movie but a time-consuming game app. Using augmented reality, players can walk around the real world to catch and collect an army of adorable monsters.
HOW IT COMPARES: Movies like Tron and The Matrix bring the user into a virtual reality inside an online space of its own while Ready Player One adds augmented reality to the mix. The players don’t just wear a headset; they have to walk on a treadmill, run around town and get driven in vans to move about Oasis. Coming soon - Ready Player Two: Class Action Lawsuits.