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How Steven Spielberg adventure Ready Player One is taking nostalgia to a new level


When you think of the best directors of all time, there are many that come to mind. David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan – these are just three examples of filmmakers who have cast a long shadow over cinema.

One of Hollywood's most influential filmmakers is Steven Spielberg, the man who more or less invented the summer blockbuster with Jaws back in 1975. He’s since gone on to direct numerous classic historical epics and adventure stories alike, including Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan.

2018 may be one of his biggest years yet, with Oscar contender The Post on release this Friday, and potentially one of the year’s biggest blockbusters Ready Player One arriving in Cineworld in March.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the only escape comes via a virtual reality game known as the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), this thrilling sci-fi adventure, based on Ernest Cline’s bestselling novel, is set to bring out your inner fanboy or fangirl.

Here’s how Ready Player One will take nostalgia to a new level.

The plot is dominated by 80s pop culture

Ready Player One begins with the death of OASIS creator James Halliday (played by Bridge of Spies Oscar-winner Mark Rylance). He leaves behind his $240 billion corporation to the winner of his new ‘Anorak’s Game’, where players need to search for the ultimate ‘easter egg’.

Our treasure-hunting hero is Wade Watts (X-Men: Apocalypse actor Tye Sheridan), who goes by the OASIS alter-ego Parzival, and who uses the game to escape the industrial, futuristic nightmare that is the city of Colombus, Ohio.

Whilst searching for the fortune alongside fellow gamers including Samantha Evelyn Cook/Art3mi (Me, Earl and the Dying Girl's Olivia Cooke), a deadly threat is brewing. That's because ruthless Innovative Online Industries (IOI) chief Nolan Sorrento (Rogue One's Ben Mendelsohn) has deployed his own batch of players, and wants to claim the treasure for his own ends.

In Ernest Cline’s book, Halliday loves 80s culture, and the ‘egg hunters’ spend their time researching all different sorts of 80s media, from cult films such as Ridley Scott’s cult classic Legend, to the popular arcade game Joust. The Ready Player One trailers have already teased these breathtaking moments, with infamous serial killer Freddie Krueger (immortalised in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies) and the time-travelling DeLorean from the Back to the Future trilogy making an appearance.

It’s Spielberg

If there’s any one director that can make a film that’s essentially a pop culture extravaganza, it’s the one and only Steven Spielberg. He's responsible for a string of 70s and 80s classics, from the terrifying Jaws to the heartwarming E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and the thrilling Raiders of the Lost Ark.

After directing some of the biggest films known in the geek community, it’s no wonder that his latest comes steeped in references to the 1980s. After all, that was the period in which Spielberg rose to become one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood – he’s therefore uniquely positioned to riff on classic pop culture references from the same era.

He also hasn’t made an adventure movie since 2011’s exciting motion capture adventure The Adventures of Tintin, and we can’t wait to see him return to the genre.

Author/screenwriter Ernest Cline is a sucker for nostalgia

Author of the original novel and the film’s co-writer (along with The Incredible Hulk screenwriter Zak Penn), it’s apparent that Ernest Cline knows his geek culture.

In the 'trailer launch event' held last December, Cline described Ready Player One in the following terms: "If Willy Wonka was a video game designer instead of a candy maker and he held his golden ticket contest inside the world’s greatest video game — that’s the essence of what the story is".

On a side note, he is no stranger to writing screenplays: in 2009, he wrote indie comedy Fanboys, a film about a group of nerds in 1998, who travel to Skywalker’s Ranch (the Lucasfilm headquarters) to see a screening of The Phantom Menace before it’s released. Notice any similar themes?

It looks like Ready Player One will be the ultimate fantasy for anyone in love with geek entertainment, with many references and throwbacks to get fans excited. And given Spielberg has focused more on historical epics in recent years with the Oscar winning Lincoln and the critically praised Bridge of Spies, we can’t wait for him to take us inside the OASIS.

Jake Gibbard is an Unlimited card holder who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.