When I heard that the great Steven Spielberg would be taking on the task of adapting Ernest Cline’s book about a kid who lives out his long days in a huge VR world where 80s pop culture is the star of it all (Ready Player One), I got curious and decided to check out what the craze over this book was all about. The novel takes place in 2045 where a messy and chaotic Earth is just getting by each day. As the main character of the story, Wade Watts, tells us in the films opening narration, “In 2045, there’s nowhere left to go, but the Oasis.” People in the Oasis are searching for 3 keys that unlock an “Easter Egg” and when Wade’s avatar Parzival meets the very popular Art3mis, a.k.a Samantha Evelyn Cook, they gain clues that are highly sought after by the film’s villain Nolan Sorrento, owner of the massive company IOI. What ensues is an adrenaline filled race against time with huge doses of 80s pop culture done right. The film manages to find a balance between fun homages and references and proper storytelling. Many of the big references are to Spielberg flicks like Jurassic Park and Jaws. This gives the film a much-needed advantage. One major flaw the film is unable to hide is the lack of characterization which is mainly limited to some narration and character conversations. The side characters beyond Wade and Samantha had basically no characterization at all thus leaving you feeling a little less empathetic for them. From a visual standpoint this yet another landmark. The world of the Oasis is beautifully crafted/realized and visually stunning. The action scenes that take place (most notably the final battle between regular users and IOI) are helmed beautifully as we cut in between the real world and the virtual one. What makes many of the scenes with IOI in them so fun to watch is the performance from Ben Mendelsohn who plays the big baddie Nolan Sorrento does a fantastic job of creating an uneasy, overpowering atmosphere whenever he is on screen. While this film is certainly not one of Spielberg’s award-contenders, this is certainly a triumphant return to blockbuster filmmaking for the man himself. If you’re looking for a solidly-made popcorn-flick to watch with some friends look no farther than Ready Player One. That is unless you haven’t seen Black Panther which you most likely have seen…you have right?