From the less spoiler to the more spoiler.
Ready Player One finally arrives in clear on television and all those who grew up with the films and video games of the years 1970/1980/1990 will be able to have fun, this evening on TF1, to locate the (auto) references of Steven Spielberg on the screen . First really liked this story of hunting “easter eggs”, and we can’t resist the urge to return to the film’s most striking nods to pop culture. Rather than ranking them from best to worst, here we choose a top “at least at most spoiler”. Like this, if you read these lines before you see RPO you will be able to appreciate part of the article. But, if so, stop halfway : if the first winks were all seen in the different trailers, it would be a shame to spoil the surprise of the last.
With Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg signs a phenomenal self-portrait [critique]
1. Jurassic Park’s T-Rex crosses paths with Last Action Hero’s Jack Slater
Steven Spielberg was quick to make it known that he planned to limit self-referrals in Ready Player One. Even if Ernest Cline’s novel is filled with nods to the work of the director ofET, Indiana Jones and Third Kind Encounters, and that the filmmaker is even mentioned by name as a major influence of pop culture, Spielberg assured that his adaptation would not be egocentric.
Before Ready Player One, 10 very cool “easter eggs” by Steven Spielberg hidden in his film
The director, who has often played the game of “easter eggs” during his career, has nevertheless agreed to leave some references to his work, including one unveiled during the promotion of the film: the T-Rex of Jurassic Park. This one is at the heart of the opening action scene, and there is another less flashy, but well thought-out element added: in the middle of the chase to the Speed Racer, the hero walks past a cinema showing the fake movie Jack Slater III. A nice nod to Last Action Hero, the brilliant comedy of John McTiernan with Arnold Schwarzenegger, released in 1993. At the time, it was precisely in direct competition with Jurassic Park at the box office, and it was the dinos that won. “No racune?”, seems to say Steven with this clever reference, which will appeal to moviegoers, without hindering the understanding of the plot: if we see it and we know the story between the two films, it’s very cool, but if we miss it, it has no impact on the history of Ready Player One.
2. The Iron Giant to the rescue
So far, we saw it from the very first teaser of the project: Brad Bird’s Iron Giant plays an important role in Ready Player One. No need to say more about it, because it is above all its symbolic place that is very interesting here. Indeed, the Warner Bros., the studio that produced the two films, accepted that this character be at the heart of the story, while when it was released in 1999, he had flopped in the United States, earning 23 million dollars for 70 of budget. This shows the growing popularity of this terribly endearing character, who subsequently found his audience on DVD and during his TV broadcasts. Not to mention that the Iron Giant is well brought into the story and is ultimately as touching as the original.
Note also that it is a return to the sympathetic sender on the part of the director, with whom Brad Bird worked at the start of his career: in the mid-1980s, he was hired as assistant director and screenwriter on his series. Fantastic stories, which has 43 episodes.
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3. Back to the future is at the heart of the concept
Steven Spielberg may not have abused self-references, but he did not shy away from winking at pals. The trilogy Back to the future, by Robert Zemeckis, which he produced, was at the heart of the novel and we find her in the film on a regular basis. There’s of course the DeLorean, used very intelligently during the race, but you can also spot Doc at the start and end of the movie, and hear some notes from the awesome soundtrack from Alan Silvestri, who agreed to compose that of RPO and can thus have fun with his own work. Without forgetting the “Zemeckis cube”, a weapon in the name “meta”, which is very useful during the film (in the novel, the director gives his name to … a planet).
Steven Spielberg: “Ready Player One is my time convector”
4. “Let’s dance!” with Michael Jackson, A-ha and Saturday Night Fever
The tributes of Ready Player One to pop culture since the 1970s also go through music. Alan Silvestri has fun covering excerpts from cult soundtracks, and Steven Spielberg has also chosen key songs of the time. If the group Rush was at the heart of the book, the blockbuster is notably punctuated by hits like “Take On Me”, by A-ha, whose half-live, half-drawn clip has marked audiences since 1985.
Saturday night fever (1977) also occupies an important place on the screen, during a very successful dance scene where the two heroes fly in the air and imitate the sway of John Travolta.
There’s also a cute nod to Michael Jackson, when Parzival searches for an ideal outfit before heading out to the party. Among his outfit, he wears for a moment the famous red costume of “Thriller”, from the cult clip of John Landis, which dates back to 1982. An element which obviously echoes the incredible popularity of the star at the time, but which also recalls his friendship with Steven Spielberg. In 1989, the filmmaker had notably agreed to appear in her music video “Liberian Girl”.
5. Video games for all generations
It is not only films that are mentioned in Ready Player One : video games are also of great importance. And there, the references are addressed to all generations, passing in bulk from Minecraft (created in 2011) at Joust (ostriches from the 1982 game appear for a short time at first, when they were the subject of a test in the book), through the games Arkham, therefore, which have been successful since 2009, different versions of Zelda (which has changed a lot since 1986) or Overwatch, who is not even two years old.
Attention, from here, the “easter eggs” spoil an element of the film
6. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek, answers Steven Spielberg here. Rumor had it that he couldn’t get the rights to the saga from his buddy George Lucas, but he quickly denied it, saying there would be “an R2-D2 hidden in a corner” (a “cameo game” that he started in 1977 in Meetings of Third Type), as well as some vessels.
Zero nod to Star Wars in Ready Player One?
On the other hand, the saga of Gene Roddenberry is very present. Already multi-cited in Cline’s novel, it is mentioned in the film during the farewell message from James Halliday (Mark Rylance). In a crucial scene, therefore, since it is through this video that the creator of the OASIS launches the treasure hunt which will make it possible to designate his successor. In his Starfleet-branded casket-capsule, he speaks directly to his players / users, ready to pass on his legacy. To choose Star Trek to symbolize such a scene is obviously no coincidence, the original series having had a huge influence on current science fiction.
7. Batman, Superman and the heroes of DC Comics
To get the rights to the movies and games he wanted to cite, Steven Spielberg and his team had to apply for multiple permissions from different studios. The Warner Bros. unsurprisingly gave access to several successful licenses, including its superheroes: Batman appears for a joke at the beginning, then Harley Quinn, the Joker or even Bat Girl (with the look of the new Arkham video games) pass furtively in the background. It is especially the reference to Superman that is well thought out, when Parzival tries to go unnoticed and Art3mis advises him to use Clark Kent’s technique. Glasses, a new haircut and, presto, you’re done.
Ready Player One: “If Steven hadn’t been here, the film wouldn’t have seen the light of day”
Attention, from here, the “easter eggs” REALLY spoil important scenes from the movie
8. Adventure or the first “easter egg” Of the history
This is the only proof of the book that was kept for the film: Adventure, released in 1979 on Atari 2600, is famous for having hidden the first “easter egg” of the history of video games. At the end of Ready Player One, the goal is not to finish the game, but to find the pixel allowing access to the secret signature of its creator Warren Robinett. Readers of Ernest Cline’s novel are not surprised, but symbolically, include this first “easter egg” in the movie was inevitable: it’s the very heart of the whole concept.
9. The Holy Granada in homage to the Monty Python
Also in the book, the Monty Python are regularly mentioned, and one of the tests discovered by Parzival (name which is obviously not chosen by chance) is to replay one of the cult scenes of the film Sacred Grail !. The idea was taken up in the film, but with another reference, both very different and just as cult (see below). The writers Zak Penn and Ernest Cline still kept an excellent nod to this comedy: the Holy Granada. “It’s one of my favorite movies, and normally the characters fit into the novel, the author explained to us. There is a reference to that in the movie with the Holy Granada, even though Parzival doesn’t count to 3 or 5 before throwing it away. I know that annoys people, but I love that we have that Holy Granada in the movie. “
10. “There are no zombies in The Shining!”
So we come to the craziest scene in the movie. In the midst of the story, the heroes enter Shining to find a key. It is obviously a tribute from Steven Spielberg to one of his favorite directors, Stanley Kubrick, whose project he took over. AI Artificial intelligence shortly after his death. It is also a totally cult work for several generations of spectators, who like to be afraid in front of this adaptation of the novel by Stephen King and have not finished looking for hidden meanings. The craziest theories run around Shining and in this, choose it as “ultimate easter egg” is a genius idea. And let’s not forget that in 1980, it was already the Warner Bros. which supported the film worn by Jack Nicholson.
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Additionally, making sure that one of the heroes (Aech) didn’t see The Shining and fall into all its traps makes for an excellent double read. The “super-combo” at the end of the scene, when zombies invite themselves into the ballroom for a few dance steps, reminiscent of the ghosts of Disney’s Haunted House, finishes terrifying / entertaining the spectators. It’s devilishly effective, we have seen Shining or not. Between that, Chucky, Alien and Freddie Kruger, Spielberg and his team manage to cite major horror references in particularly clever ways in the middle of an all-audience movie.
Ernest Cline: “Ready Player One forced Spielberg to think about his own legacy”