Sunday, April 01, 2018

Ready Player One (2018)

I saw Spielberg's new film, Ready Player One, on its opening night. There's rarely any film that attracts me enough to see it on the day of its release, and I have zero interest in the current crop of slick, overproduced, corporate blockbusters, and about the same amount of interest in video games. But I was interested enough to see what Spielberg had done with the material.

Set in the near future, it deals with a lonely young man who spends his days inside the fantasy world of an immersive role-playing video game. His only friends are his virtual ones, and his life experiences are limited to being tethered to the virtual reality station. When he begins to fall in love with a female avatar in the game, and has to stop an evil corporate scumbag from hijacking control of the entire game for his own nefarious purposes, the lines between reality and virtual reality begin to blur.

This is another one of these science fiction stories reflecting the anxieties of our obsession with technology, our loss of humanity within the fantasy worlds created by social media, the stunted development of generations raised perpetually plugged-in to electronics and glued to screens, etc. None of it is explored in any real depth here, and the ending is too facile in its dealing with any of these ideas to offer much to think about afterward.

It's a little difficult to buy any such idea from this film, anyway, when it's obviously conceived as an escapist withdrawal into the world of '80s and '90s pop culture nostalgia. The result is such a hodge podge that you come away from it feeling a little dazed.

I will say that I enjoyed it considerably more than his previous film, The Post, which is Spielberg at his safest and most ossified, and totally predictable, yet -- perhaps like the nostalgia mined in Ready Player One -- there can be something oddly comforting in that.

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