CINE. Ready Player One : the new Spielberg looks like a video game
A slum where caravans are stacked one on top of the other to form rickety buildings, everywhere the drones-lookouts with cameras scrutinizing the population, the city like a huge dump in the open air… Welcome to the United States of 2045 ! In this murky hell, only one escape : virtual reality (VR). Women, men, children and old men, all live almost constantly with the VR headset locked in the face. In a pixel paradise, they frolic in interstellar space, islands of dreams, homeric battlefields where death intervenes only to laugh-just start the game again !
Such is the fate of Wade Watts, 18, whose digital avatar Parzival explores the virtual universe of the OASIS : it is an online game “massively multi-player” (MMORPG) on which is connected the whole planet, creation of a digital goldsmith named James Halliday. Imagine an old Zuckerberg particularly introverted, if not totally beside his pumps. This is what Halliday, inventor of the social network OASIS, became the electronic cocaine of the 21st century: everyone wants his dose. Especially since said Halliday broke his pipe-it happens in the real world. He left as a legacy to his fans a long-term quest. Find in the OASIS three keys that will make their holder the master of this virtual world…
With Ready Player One, Spielberg did not want to make Black mirror
There are reasons to expect a lot from Ready Player One. First because of the book from which it came. Released in 2011, it delivered as a prophecy what the hybridization of VR with social networks could give. If Facebook, Twitter and company allow to see what his friends are doing, the addition of a virtual reality mask would allow to live it. And that’s what Zuckerberg’s firm is working on: moving from an isolated use of VR, where you are alone under your glasses, to a shared use. Facebook “no longer goes TO Facebook”, as Eric Scherer, director of Foresight and MediaLab at France Télévisions, said in a video interview granted in 2016 to Sciences et Avenir, and visible below.
In short, the blockbuster Ready Player One could have been prolonged by a dizzying reflection on the use of technologies. But Spielberg did not want to make Black mirror. He delivers a film where these themes are addressed only superficially. All for fun ! The director of Rencontre of the 3rd type seems to have only one goal here: to put his eyes full with his film version of the OASIS. Car races, pitched battles, wild dances in levitation… Ready Player One is, at three quarters, a CGI film. Technique admirably mastered by the special effects team of the film but which in the end gives the feeling to the viewer… watching someone play a video game. True, there are YouTube channels for this. But on the big screen, it’s downright boring.
The best scene in the film, by the way, is the one that, by contrast, exacerbates its excesses. When Parzival and his digital companions are immersed in the film The Shining, a masterpiece of cinema by Stanley Kubrick. Technically, it is admirable : the grain of the image, the sets, everything seems to have arisen from the 1980 feature film. But where Kubrick installed horror sparingly, elegantly, Spielberg is forced to add more, to hammer. Remember the scene in The Shining where blood flows from a door. At Spielberg, it turns into a tsunami: certainly, we have it up to our ears, but… Not even afraid !
Cold, boring and disembodied, such seemed to us Spielberg’s Ready Player One. If he is an old geek, the viewer can spend the time sorting through the stacking of quotes that constitutes the film, the avatars taking the form of characters, monsters or vehicles drawn, jumble, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Batman, Superman, Alien, Breakfast Club, the Ninja Turtles, Freddy Krugger, The Iron Giant, Beetlejuice or Friday the 13th. These appearances, not directly related to the plot, evoke those made by the famous toons in Who Wants the skin of Roger Rabbit (1988). It was already a Spielberg production, but this one was successful.