SET IN a dystopian world where people escape by living out their fantasies in a virtual universe called Oasis, this film is essentially an homage to 1980s pop culture while, at the same time, reminding us of the true value of having friends. Based on Ernest Cline’s first novel Ready Player One (Cline also co-wrote the screenplay with Zak Penn), it is directed by Spielberg, who also broke new ground in filmmaking during the 80s, making the numerous visual references in this film all the more special. There are some changes from the novel, but Spielberg has kept its spirit intact, and in doing so, delivers a film with the right balance of scenes between the real world and the virtual world, where all the players appear as the avatar of their choice. Set in 2045, we learn that Oasis was created by tech guru James Halliday (Rylance), who upon his death has given an opportunity to those who enter the Oasis to inherit his fortune and his company, by solving some clues that lead to an Easter egg he left behind in this virtual world. Years later, the search is still on, as people pore over Halliday’s life story hoping to find answers. Enter Wade Watts (Sheridan), aka Parzival in the Oasis, who has been hunting for clues with his best friend Aech, a mechanical genius whose avatar is a giant half-robot black man. They take part in a race where they meet Art3mis (Cooke), who is one of the frontrunners. Somehow, Watts figures out the answer to the first clue, and finds the first key out of three that he must collect to secure the Easter egg. He shares details on how to win with friends Aech, Art3mis, and two other players he befriended, Daito (Win Morisaki) and Shoto (Philip Zhao), allowing all of them to cross the finish line and be listed on the leader board. However, their success does not not go unnoticed. We meet the film’s antagonist, Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), the CEO of Innovative Online Industries (IOI), a company that produces top-of-the-line virtual reality equipment. Nolan wants to control the Oasis by any means necessary, and will do anything to make that happen including murder those in his way. All in, this is a highly-entertaining movie that pays homage to tech gurus as well as pop culture, and should appeal to a wide audience of film fans, not just gamers.