“Ready Player One” is the best thing to happen to movies and gaming since Tron. It made a huge splash since the first teaser trailer made its debut at San Diego Comic-Con. There are already extensive videos dedicated to finding Easter eggs in the trailers,and there are many, many, articles dedicated to finding all the cameos and nods to gaming history. This is NOT one of those articles, because this movie is more than fan service, it is so much more than that. Here’s 5 reasons why Ready Player One is important.
5) Team of industry leaders
Every hand that has touched this movie is a titan in their field. The film is a faithful adaptation of the New York Times bestselling novel written by Ernest Cline. Zak Penn, (the writer for “Avengers”) also worked directly with Cline on the script. The movie is being directed by the great Stephen Spielberg. (Which is pretty funny considering the book pays homage to much of Spielberg’s work.) Spielberg also worked closely with Cline to make the film an accurate depiction of the word in Cline’s novel. Spielberg talks about this collaboration in the “See the Future” trailer. All of the trailers on the movie’s website are showing an insane attention to detail. The first trailer leads into the second, and the crystal key that connects the two is incredibly important for the story line of the original novel. We’ll avoid spoilers, but this imagery of major plot points could help allay fan fears that Spielberg would take too many liberties with the story. The soundtrack is composed by Alan Silvestri, the man who wrote music for everything from the iconic “Back to the Future”, to the endearing “Lilo and Stitch”, to the modern “Avengers”. The team doesn’t just have everything they need to make the movie work, they have some of the greatest that working professionals in the industry today.
4) The Culturally Relevant Story
To give a brief summary without any spoilers, the world of the original novel takes place after climate change has set in, fossil fuels have been depleted, and an energy crisis has devastated society. The main character of the novel – and most of the population – live in stacks of poverty stricken – trailer park skyscrapers. The poor struggle with income inequality and an opiod epidemic while wealthy corporations try to monopolize an economy that revolves around digital escapism. There are so many parallels to modern society – the fight for income equality – the opiod epidemic – the cultural touchstones – it almost seems that the book is a commentary on current events, but it was actually written seven years ago, in 2011. The plot is similar to Willy Wonka’s golden ticket premise, where an aging creator decides who inherits his legacy in a contest, and the poor urchin must resist and combat the corrupting allure of corporate greed. Stephen Spielberg even tried to get Gene Wilder to play the universe’s equivalent of Willy Wonka, but unfortunately for us Wilder declined and has since passed away. Spielberg still gave a nod to Mr. Wilder by using a re-mixed version “Pure Imagination” in the trailer. But this story setting took more than just imagination, it is as relevant as it is prophetic. Before Japan started accepting bitcoin – or the DOW had the largest single day fall in history – Cline predicted the dystopian future we now live in, and he imagines a way out.
3) The Revolution is REAL
The main villian in the story is Innovative Online Industries (IOI), a multinational corporation bent on taking control of the OASIS and monetizing it. There couldn’t be a better time for a movie like that to come out. EA’s horrible monetization of Star Wars Battlefront is still fresh in the minds of gamers everywhere. The gaming community banded together against EA’s monetization scheme creating the most disliked post in reddit history. Not only did the outcry succeed in EA changing the method, but now it looks like it may result in EA losing the Star Wars contract entirely. Players are fighting against corporate greed and winning. Even gaming companies are protesting against things that would hurt players, such as the net neutrality repeal. Ready Player One taps into and celebrates the resistance that is actively fighting now, and also the spirit of revolution that is rising in a country being devastated by class warfare identical to the one described in the book. By combining icons of gaming that surpass generations and struggles that everyone in our society continue to deal with on a daily basis, Ready Player One gives a sense of unity in a world impoverished by division. This movie isn’t just entertainment, its important because it tackles corporate exploitation, a rarity in mainstream cinema.
2) The New Gaming Renaissance: E-Sports
E-Sports has not only changed the face of gaming, it has gone a long way to change how society views gaming. The rise of Twitch, Overwatch League, TESPA, and MLG have been invading the territory of mainstream sports networks such as ESPN since 2015. It’s important to mention this all happened 4 years after Cline’s book was released, another example of how his story was ahead of the curve. An internationally franchised E-Sports League isn’t a far-fetched science-fiction fantasy anymore, it exists. Ready Player One looks forward as it adds fuel to the fires of this new gaming renaissance. This movie could just herald another major transition, but it could even help inspire one. A gamer revolution may seem like pipe-dream, but there’s more historical precedent than you might think.
1) The Roger Rabbit Factor
In 2016, “Who framed Roger Rabbit?” was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The movie was a blockbuster and a cultural landmark that sparked the Disney Renaissance. The film is the perfect parallel for Ready Player One, because it has many of the same components and could easily receive the same reaction from the public.
Look at what each movie has:
- Well established characters from different universes, all with loyal fan bases
- Most of those characters appearing alongside one another for the first time, ever
- A mature story with stylistic, culturally relevant themes
- Seamless blend of digital animation and live action
- Stephen Spielberg calling the shots
Roger Rabbit is criminally underrated, it helped create the Disney Empire, and all of those same ingredients have been assembled in this project. To expect anything other than game changing would be disregarding history. Ready Player One could theoretically do for gaming what Roger Rabbit did for animation. It could bring about a golden age of gaming where mainstream society adopts the passions of a once small community, but its pretty easy to argue that it has already started happening. So, to the pessimists giving up on the movie before it comes out, I say this:
Ready Player One is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. in the United States on March 29, 2018.