Lately I’ve been at a loss to find any sci-fi movies that I might like. After some searches I saw a trailer for this 2018 Spielberg film and decided to give it a viewing. The scenario is a dystopian future where because of (you guessed it) global warming and the exhaustion of all fossil fuels everybody lives in trailer homes stacked on top of each other in piles. And because life is so miserable, everybody spends all their time inside a virtual reality program called the Oasis. This program was invented by an uber-geek named James Donovan Halliday who when he died revealed to the world that hidden in Oasis was an Easter Egg and clues to finding it. Whoever found it would inherit his ownership of Oasis which was worth around a trillion dollars.
This is the story of how a teen age geek named Wade Owen Watts (in game name; Parzival) with the help of his friends Aech, Art3mis, Daito and Shoto find the Easter Egg and save the gaming world from the evil IOI (Innovative Online Industries) corporation that wanted to win the contest and turn Oasis into a boring commercial wasteland. Nolan Sorrento, the head of IOI, detects Wade’s success at finding the clues and uses real world violence to try and sideline Wade and his friends. And in fact, Wade’s aunt and many people living in his trailer stack are killed in a drone attack meant for Wade. But eventually good prevails and Wade and his friends find the egg and live happily ever after. Now for my review.
This is a Spielberg film. And it is like every other Spielberg film. The hero is introduced and we watch him struggle, fail, learn and grow. The good people are hip and watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the Breakfast Club when they were young and the bad people are corporate types that wear three-piece suits. And because this is today one of the characters is a black lesbian because diversity. And like in all Spielberg films, when the climactic scene where everything will either fail or succeed is reached, there is the annoying back and forth fumbling which is supposed to produce nervous tension. In this one the on-line character is trying to get a key into a keyhole while his real-life body is standing in the back of a speeding mail truck that is being slammed into by hostile vehicles. So, for several minutes we have to watch him miss the keyhole. This sort of thing was annoying in the Indiana Jones movies and in Saving Private Ryan. It’s still annoying today.
It’s not a terrible movie. The special effects in the movie are extremely good. But the characters in Oasis and in the real world are not particularly likable or realistic. And the plot is very predictable with the usual strawman for the villain. I suppose someone who is a big fan of gaming might enjoy the in-jokes and references to classic games. I thought it was trite and very self-indulgent. Probably good for Spielberg fans.