Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts in ‘Ready Player One’


Steven Spielberg presents a dystopian version of Ohio that makes it look like we’re going to be the human version of the trash heap in Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs.” The only saving grace is the escapist virtual world of the OASIS, where Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) roams around in search of clues that will lead him to the Easter Egg left by the world’s deceased creator (Mark Rylance) who comes across like a sweetly addled lovechild of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Along the way, Wade finds real/reel love (Olivia Cooke) in the virtual ruins and life in the nostalgia of pop culture, which allows Spielberg to operate in his 1980s sweet-spot (a blockbuster about a kid in search of a lost or fallen father figure), with assistance from the novelist Ernest Cline, who adapts his own work with a hand from screenwriter-for-hire Zak Penn. This is the movie Spielberg’s been getting ready for his whole career and nothing – especially any critical talk about how the narrative’s virtual landscape stands in for our social media dependence – will stand in the way. “Ready Player One” just wants us to enjoy the frenzied ride.