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‘Ready Player One’ is why we go to the movies

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Tye Sheridan in a scene from "Ready Player One," a film by Steven Spielberg. (Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

The last several weeks have been fairly disappointing for movie releases. That changed this week with the release of Steven Spielberg’s latest, “Ready Player One.”

The film is an adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name based in a very near future where people have given up on living their real lives. Instead, they live vicariously through their online avatars inside a virtual reality called The Oasis.

“Ready Player One” may not be a cinematic masterpiece, and it falls victim to cheesy lines and somewhat shallow characters, but it doesn’t really matter because it is an absolute blast.

“Ready Player One” is popcorn-movie watching at its best and will remind us why we go to the movies in the first place: to escape and have a good time.

Here are some of the reasons I had such a great time watching it.

The nostalgia

The novel by Ernest Cline is packed to the gills with 1980s pop culture and nods to an era gone by. Every adventure the main character embarks upon is paved with ’80s music, movies, video games and TV shows and the movie does the exact same thing.

There is something about seeing the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” race around New York City while avoiding King Kong and battling it out with Max Rockatansky’s battle-ready car that just makes you smile and move toward the edge of your seat. That’s just one moment in a 2 1/2 hour movie filled with this kind of stuff.

It’s great for fans of the book and those who have never read it

I saw this movie with my fellow KSL movie critic Dave Clyde, which was fun because we were watching it from two different perspectives. Dave had never read the book, and I am a big fan of it. We both agreed that this movie is a crowdpleaser.

From the nonreader point-of-view, this movie created a world that draws you in with characters that you care about. It was a visual feast of clever puzzles, intense action with real consequences and surprises aplenty.

For fans of the book, I believe there was a lot there to love even though it did not stay 100 percent true to the source material. Truth be told, that is what made it so much fun for book readers.

The vibe and tone of the book is what made it such a great read. Spielberg and the writers, one of which was Cline himself, made sure to keep all of that intact. The overall plot and characters are the same, as is the feel and ’80s references, which are so important.

But the filmmakers wanted to make sure the book readers had a unique experience without sacrificing what made the book so wonderful. Even though I knew how Parzival’s story ended in the book, I was still surprised by some of the twists in the movie thanks to some necessary changes to make the story more cinematic.

I have no doubt some readers will be upset with all the changes, but I feel it’s exactly what the story needed to make it a great movie and not a badly cut-up version of the book.

It’s vintage Spielberg with an updated twist

“Ready Player One” feels like Spielberg tapped into his younger self from the days of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “E.T.” and “Jaws.” I felt like I did when I was a kid experiencing “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” for the first time or how my jaw dropped when I saw the space ship from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

That Spielberg we grew up with is back, but now he has new toys and updated tech to push the “wow” factor over the edge.

It makes for his most fun and enjoyable movie since “Jurassic Park.”

Conclusion

“Ready Player One” has its issues here and there and it’s not going to be a best picture candidate, but who cares? That’s not why I went to the theater. I went to have a giant smile on my face and have a great time while drinking a soda and eating some snacks, and “Ready Player One” delivered.

As a kid I would get so excited about the big summer movies, and I still remember being swept away by the magic of the movies. I’d like to thank Steven Spielberg and Ernest Cline for giving me that experience once again.

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