Is the Ready Player One movie a breakthrough moment for VR?

READY PLAYER ONE Is A Parade Of Pop Culture References…And It's So Damn Fun

To escape the doldrums of reality people enter the "Oasis", a virtual reality playland created by James Halliday (Mark Rylance) in which individuals can be anything they desire - the only limit is one's imagination. When Wade cleverly deciphers the first clue, he brings his closest friends along for the ride, including online love interest Samantha (Olivia Cooke) to seek out the true meaning to OASIS and to discover whether Halliday is actually dead or not.

The offer's irresistible to gamers like Wade and competing tech CEO Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), who deploys an army of searchers so he can turn the Oasis into ad space ("We can sell up to 80 percent of a user's visual field before inducing seizures").

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Days before a Steve Spielberg adaptation of his bestselling science fiction novel is due to hit theaters, writer Ernest Cline reflected on the sometimes uneasy dynamic between reality and fantasy in people's lives. Visually, this is as impressive as anything the director has done in some time.

Spielberg makes an absolute pig of himself here.

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In one of the film's opening scenes, Parzival races his DeLorean from Back to the Future through city streets, trying to evade the T-Rex from Jurassic Park and King Kong. It's particularly spell-binding during one of the film's biggest and longest action sequences involving a violent and heart-pounding sequence that would make Nascar wet itself. The film takes a weird turn, however, when it re-creates key scenes from Halliday's favorite movie, 1980's "The Shining". If you adore Netflix's "Stranger Things" throwback style, expect to have a blast with this nostalgic romp through the 1980s. It's just a joy to watch, especially in the hands of the master. The biggest references though is the DeLorean Time Machine vehicle from Back to the Futureand the motorbike from AkiraCline's book had one of their biggest sequences featuring Japanese superhero Ultraman and the mecha Leopardon from the Japanese version of Spider-Man. "Visually, I had to see it twice". And that really can't be underestimated, because there's a good chance that it's going to take years to even find them all. We shall see, at least. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Although Spielberg was reportedly reluctant to make too many references to his own work - especially after getting roasted for lampooning "Duel" and "Jaws" in "1941" - he remains the connective tissue holding virtually the whole film together, not just as its director, but the architect of so numerous worlds within its story thanks to his own iconic body of work. Not just a fun adventure, it's also a condemnation of the very activities celebrated within. Once a person goes into this digital minefield, they can become anyone or anything they want, which allows Spielberg, Penn and Cline to open up their pop culture bag of goodies where a plethora of familiar characters and gizmos abound. It may not be the sort of prestige fare that The Post was a year ago, but in terms of just being a good time at the movies, this is Spielberg totally in control. It's barely been 3 months since The Post released and you're here again, with another adventure too big to ignore and yet managing to remain human and relatable. But, in comparison to the edge of "Deadpool" and "Logan" and the personalities from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Ready Player One's" characters, arcs and message feel tame, and renders the film itself hollow.

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