Beware of MAJOR spoilers to Ready Player One, ye who enter here
Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One opened in theaters this weekend. Coming from one of the most famous directors of all time, expectations were high. Thankfully, Spielberg delivered a wonderful film that may actually appease the many fans of the book. Since the book is kind of popular. So why is it so popular?
Well, Ready Player One is a straightforward adventure quest that happens to feature some of the most memorable moments in storytelling. That’s because the book literally lifts moments, stories, vehicles, characters and more from everything the novel’s writer Ernest Cline ever loved. It’s a unique way of putting one’s self on the page, and a testament to Cline’s talent. While the film doesn’t feature a lot of the same moments or references, Cline and Spielberg perfectly captured the themes of the original story.
But the references are what make Ready Player One the passion project that it was. Only someone like Spielberg could have wrangled so many properties, convincing so many studios to allow the film to use some of the most famous elements of their most famous pictures. Their generosity helped Spielberg to create some of the most meta-hilarious moments ever captured. Properties like Star Wars, Firefly, Cowboy BeBop, Monty Python and countless more were referenced in the film. The movie is going to be dissected for years and years as fans pick out details from the backgrounds and settings.
So what were the best cameos and references? This isn’t just about cramming something people love in the background. Ready Player One used some of the most famous icons ever in brand new ways. Making history with history. So let’s break down just how Spielberg, Cline, and screenwriter Zak Penn warped the idea of childhood itself by counting down the top 10 cameos, references and easter eggs in Ready Player One!
10. Gundam RX-78-2
When Daito pulls out a small figure and throws it into the air, excitement permeated throughout the theater. As the most famous Gundam suit out of the gajillions that have been created – Gundam RX-78 Model 2 – roared its way onto the big screen for the final fight. It was a glorious sequence that makes Pacific Rim’s fight scenes look incredibly slow, in comparison. It’s even sparked a demand for Mobile Suit Gundam to finally get the Hollywood blockbuster treatment. Anime fans around the world can only hope.
9. The Master Chief(s)
Could this mean that Spielberg’s long-gestating Halo project is finally going to get made?! Or could this mean that Steven Spielberg is probably just a big fan of the franchise? Hopefully, both answers are true. The abundance of Master Chiefs in the final fight of Ready Player One was a joke, all to itself. Poking fun at the popularity of the character as well as the fact that so many fans would don the character’s famous armor. The Models used varied from the Halo games, a testament to the level of details put into the film. But just know that we’re all waiting for that Halo series, Mr. Spielberg!
8. Tyrannosaurus Rex
It’s well known that Steven Spielberg didn’t really want to reference himself in Ready Player One. Despite the fact that he’s one of the biggest influences to the original novel. But since the man who gave the world Jaws, Indiana Jones, E.T., Close Encounters, Catch Me If You Can, Lincoln, Bridge of Spies and Schindler’s List is somehow still very humble, he didn’t want to pay homage to himself. Except for the most important film missing from that list: Jurassic Park. The T-Rex doesn’t get much screen-time in Ready Player One, but when it does it’s absolutely glorious. Here it is chasing down Aech’s monster truck in the beginning of the movie.
7. The DeLorean
Despite the fact that Spielberg is also important to the history of Back to the Future, it was most definitely a Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale film. So it didn’t really count as referencing himself when Parzival got to ride around in one of the coolest cars in the history of anything. The DeLorean is featured prominently in Ready Player One. It actually makes it to the end of the movie without getting destroyed! For the most part… But Wade Watts is clearly a fan of the film. Even his avatar’s haircut looks a little familiar. Sparking Artemis to deliver the famous line from the trailer where she simply calls him, “McFly”.
6. Rogue One’s Director Krennic name-drops the Millennium Falcon
Any good villain will always try to turn any good hero to the “dark side.” They might promise power or wealth in exchange for the hero ending their quest. So it came as no surprise when Ben Mendelsohn started offering Wade Watts some pretty unique items in exchange for his help in solving James Halliday’s puzzle. The last thing he offers is the most enticing of all: the Millennium Falcon. Since Steven Spielberg and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy are old friends, Star Wars got to be among the many franchises referenced. But upon close inspection, it was Director Orson Krennic from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story who gets to name-drop the Millennium Falcon! A Star Wars reference from a Star Wars veteran.
5. The Holy Hand Grenade
When Parzival first finds the Copper Key he receives a nice little payday. Enough to go on a little spending spree! His buddy Aech keeps him from spending the bulk of his bank, but he does go a little crazy. But it turns out one purchase ended up being pretty necessary. Parzival pulls out the Holy Hand Grenade from Monty Python and the Holy Grail near the end of the film, laying out an entire row of baddies. The Grenade also played a pretty pivotal role in the novel too, so it was nice to see the Monty Python group make it through the transition from page to screen. If only the Rabbit of Caerbannog had made an appearance!
4. The Shining
The Shining’s inclusion in Ready Player One could upset some fans of director Stanley Kubrick. The auteur filmmaker was one of the best of all time. He was also one of the most serious filmmakers of all time, leading many to believe he couldn’t take a joke. But that’s simply not true. Kubrick’s The Shining is one of the most beloved horror films ever. When entire scenes, sequences, and even footage from the film are used in Ready Player One, it’s a sign of love and not satire. Spielberg and Kubrick were very close friends, having worked on the script for Artificial Intelligence together. The homage paid to one of the best films ever in Ready Player One seems more like something of a fan letter to an old friend.
The mechanical version of Godzilla known as Mechagodzilla was one of the “final bosses” of the novel. It’s not that it was some sentient creature that Wade Watts needed to beat or outsmart. It’s that Sorrento and IOI are able to afford countless luxuries and vehicles in The Oasis game world. So when the final battle sequence occurs, Sorrento calls on none other than Mechagodzilla to defend the IOI team! It’s not the same design from the original film, as seen above. No, this Mechagodzilla features a few new upgrades. Enough for the massive metal monster to be more than a match for Daito’s Gundam. While the Mechagodzilla didn’t fight for the good guys, it was undeniably awesome to see the behemoth on the big screen again.
2. The Iron Giant
Yes, he was all over the trailers. But the Iron Giant from The Iron Giant still manages to steal the show! Parzival’s buddy Aech has been working on a pet project for a long time. She wants to bring the Iron Giant to life by creating one of her own. The Iron Giant is around for a surprisingly large portion of the film, which was a welcome sight. Brad Bird’s classic film is one of the last great 2D animated films to get a full theatrical release in the United States. That giant’s lovable face helped to make the character one of the most memorable robots in film history. Unfortunately, the gentlest metal giant does have to endure quiet a bit of punishment in the final battles of Ready Player One. But that’s what happens to any good superhero.
1. It’s F****** Chuckie!
No one in the world could have predicted that Steven Spielberg would ever direct a sequence where someone throws a Chuckie doll at someone that causes them to reply, “It’s f****** Chuckie!”. The most murderous doll ever was spoiled in the trailer, but he was one of the best-utilized tools in the entire film. The massive battle sequences in the film feature thousands upon thousands of players swinging all kinds of weapons at each other. But there’s something to be said for the kind of terror experienced when someone THROWS A KNIFE-WIELDING CHUCKIE DOLL AT YOU.
One of the best visual gags in the film was to see an action a character commits in the Oasis illuminate a person’s suit in the real world. Meaning when Artemis touches Parzival, Wade Watts’ suit starts to glow in the…places she’s touching. So when the famous doll starts to hack away at an IOI player, the suit lights up with a flurry of Chuckie-stab wounds! Probably the funniest moment in a hilarious film and the best use of the f-word in a PG-13 film. Ever.
Ready Player One featured countless references to pieces of everyone’s pasts and childhoods. Though some elements were more important to the story than others, every homage was a loving nod to the worlds and adventures that continue to bring us all together. Almost too many to count.
What were your favorite references and easter eggs in Ready Player One?