Perhaps you are old enough to remember the original movie Tron (1982, starring Jeff Bridges), one of the first movies to really use CG in a convincing way. Or at least perhaps you’re old enough to remember the second Tron movie which did not show up until 2010. In either case the film was about someone trapped within a game, or as we would call it today a virtual reality.
In various ways Steven Spielberg’s new film Ready Player One is a trip down nostalgia lane, with this difference. NOW, people actually would rather be trapped in virtual reality rather than actual reality, and we see this sort of escapism in this new film, but with a twist— in the end Spielberg will bring home the lesson that actual reality is in various ways better and preferable to any and all fantasy worlds. Hooray for an old school director using new fangled themes and ideas. This movie is rather long, and especially towards the end it drags when the conclusion is obvious and inevitable (total time 140 minutes). The visual effects are of course spectacular, and the avatars of the main ‘players’ in the film are interesting. One could do a psychological examination of why this young person picked that avatar. Inquiring minds wants to know. And the film renews a frequent theme in Spielberg’s films, namely ‘a little child will lead them’, or in this case, a young adult or three.
What should we think of this film? Other than what I’ve already mention the film doesn’t really have a profound message, it’s more about the fascination with virtual reality, and persons slipping into and out of it, and at the same time wanting to get to know the real persons behind the avatars, even though those real persons are afraid that they are but pale shadows of the avatars with super powers. It is commendable and reassuring at least that Spielberg paints the picture that even in the future there really are good guys to be cheered and bad guys to be booed, as oppose to the morally ambiguous visions of the future such as in the Blade Runner films.
Is this film suitable for older children? Well yes, and it will entertain those especially enamored with virtual reality games. It’s probably too intense for young children, and the story line bouncing back and forth between the real and the virtual worlds can be confusing. It’s not really a family heart-warming kind of film, but is sure to appeal to millenials.
This film will probably not get any Oscar nominations apart from technical categories, and certainly not for acting, but as escapist entertainment, it’s not bad.