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In an overcrowded joyless world, Wade – like many people – spends most of his time in huge online game/world Oasis, in the guise of his avatar Parzifal.  Game creator Halliday, before his death, built an easter egg into Oasis – a quest where the winner will inherit Oasis.  Wade takes part in this quest with friends.  But they are up against big business IOI, who play dirty.

I was greatly looking forward to this film: I will explain why at the end of this review.  Did it reward my anticipation?

The story is straightforward but solid.  There are no huge surprises, but you remain fully engaged for the 140 minutes running time.  The protagonists are decent but flawed, and very easy to identify with.  I particularly liked Olivia Cooke’s Artemis. Ben Mendelson is a juicy baddie.  Mark Rylance is an offbeat Halliday, and it took me a while to identify his partner Og..

Hot visuals, but too busy sometimes

Spielberg and his regular director of photography Janusz Kaminsky realise the rundown real world of Columbus’ Stacks as well as the dazzling virtual worlds of The Oasis.  And here is one of my three minor gripes.  The opening action set piece in the Oasis has too much going on.  It is so frenetic that there are times when it is difficult to follow.

As I am reporting negatives, I would comment that there is a huge expositional information dump at the start.  I thought this might have been better dropped into the narrative as the film progressed.

And I found it really difficult to understand what Parzifal’s friend H was saying, although the reason for this becomes clear.

Don’t blink

Apart from that, this exciting film with great eye candy, and some heart, is utter heaven for geeks.  It will rewarding watching in slow motion to catch all the geek references, because it is full of them. It also contains an amazing reconstruction of sets and sequences from a certain horror film which stretch the limits of a UK 12 certificate.

Read the book!

So why was I anticipating this so keenly?  Because I so thoroughly enjoyed Ernest Cline’s source novel, which I recommend wholeheartedly.  Cline is credited as co-screenwriter, which is pleasing. For anyone who embraces geek culture – computer games and sci-fi especially – should see this film and read the book!

Spielberg goes geek!
Good storyStunning visualsPlenty of heart
Difficult to understand HVisuals too busy at times
4.5Ultimate geek out
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