Steven Spielberg takes on the video game generation and wins in this gloriously entertaining blockbuster sci-fi adventure.
Combining stunning technique and astonishing CGI effects, it rockets along like Christopher Nolan’s brainy thriller Inception remade with the manic energy and humour of The Lego Movie.
And the worlds greatest living director uses cinema to reinvent a book about virtual reality to emphasise the importance of real face-to-face human interaction.
Packed with references to your favourite films, songs and games of the 1980’s, it’s based on Ernest Cline’s best-selling 2011 novel of the same name.
The narrative is streamlined but true to its source and maintains all the major characters.
Tye Sheridan is a hugely likeable lead as Wade Watts, a trailer trash youth who spends all his time in the Oasis.
In 2045 it’s the worlds most popular virtual reality game, where anything is possible.
It was invented by the late James Halliday, whose will stipulated whoever could solve his grand puzzle would inherit the Oasis and its mind boggling wealth.
Everyone uses an online avatar to protect their identity as they compete to win the prize, including the corporate bad guys intent on a hostile takeover.
Spielberg turns Cline’s homage to pop culture into a satirical swipe at the contemporary USA.
There are digs at the monetisation of the health and criminal justice systems, warnings about online trust and celebrity, and a critique of corporate exploitation of the young.
But none of this is allowed to weigh down the fun or the thrills and is full of optimism for the youth of tomorrow.
Mark Rylance appears as Halliday and Spielberg uses the Brit actor as his own avatar, to give us a touching reflection on his own life.
Having invented the summer blockbuster in 1975 with Jaws, Spielberg demonstrates his enduring ability to entertain, while embracing the latest technology and remaining relevant to a modern audience.
Providing an early kick off to the summer season, he proves not only does he still have the moves to compete with kids, but also has a few lives still to play.

Stars 5

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