How Ready Player One Brought Back the 80’s

When the film for Ernest Cline‘s Ready Player One was released in 2018, the 1980s culture had come back stronger than ever. Fans felt nostalgic for the ’80s clothing and the countless ’80s movie and music references. In honor of Ernest Cline’s announcement of a sequel novel Ready Player Two, get the Scoop on how Ready Player One brought back the 1980s.


Film Summary

Ready Player One follows Wade Watts, an orphan from Ohio living with his aunt in a trailer park called The Stacks in the year 2045. The world seeks refuge in a virtual reality world called the OASIS created by Gregarious Games, formed by James Halliday and Ogden Morrow. After Halliday dies, he leaves behind a message to all members of the OASIS, he has left three keys to three gates that lead to an Easter Egg. The player who finds the egg will gain control of the entire OASIS. Wade’s avatar, Parzival, as well as Art3mis, Aech, Daito, and Sho reached the first key close together, becoming known as the High Five on the scoreboard. They band together to get through the gates before the “Sixers” who work for the IOI company, trying to sell the OASIS for advertisement revenue.


The “Sixers” and IOI come after the High Five in real life as well as the game, forcing them to band together in the real world. While on the run, they fight with the rest of the OASIS against the “Sixers“. IOI released a Cataclyst bomb, knocking out anyone on the battlefield, except Parzival who was given an Extra Life token earlier in the film. He figures out the last gate and receives the egg from Halliday’s avatar and gains control over the OASIS. He shares ownership with the rest of the High Five and Morrow.


Bringing Back the 80’s

1. Steven Spielberg

Ready Player One is directed by the one and only, Steven Spielberg. Spielberg also helped produce the film. The movie, like the novel, is full of cultural references from the 1970s to the present day. Steven Spielberg and producer Kristie Macosko Krieger worked for several years before the film began production to secure copyrights to use in the film. By the end of filming, they gained about 80% of the copyrights they desired. Spielberg wanted to avoid using references from his own films out of fear of backlash. Ernest Cline eventually convinced Steven to use some iconic elements such as the DeLorean from Back to the Future.

2. Music

Fans of the movie and nostalgic parents loved the 80s and futuristic soundtrack. Like the movie, the soundtrack was filled with subtle references, such as the main themes to The Shining and Back to the Future. Besides futuristic background music, the film features hits from the 80s. Some well-known songs are: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears, “Stand On It” by Bruce Springsteen, “One Way or Another” by Blondie, “Stayin’ Alive” by Bee Gees, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister, “You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates, and “Pure Imagination” by Bryan Nguyen.


3. Cultural References


There are well over a hundred cultural references throughout the film. There are well-known figures in the film, such as The Iron Giant, King Kong, and the t-rex from Jurassic Park. The film also has references in the dialogue, such as Buckeroo Banzai and Shermer High School used by John Hughes. It also contains a dance reference, at a nightclub Art3mis and Parzavil dance in the style of Saturday Night Fever. Steven Spielberg secured the rights that the High Five can play through The Shining as he was friends with Stanley Kubrick.

4. Visual Effects


The visual effects for Ready Player One were provided by Industrial Light & Magic, Digital Domain, Territory Studio, and The Third Floor. Spielberg would have several hour meetings a few times a week with the visual effects team. 80 out of 140 minutes takes place in the OASIS. The part of the film that took place in the digital world of The Shining was mostly a digital recreation of the film with some of The Shining footage used. The same technique was used to recreate the Back to the Future ‘s DeLorean, The Iron Giant, Chucky, and King Kong.

5. Style

The style of characters and rooms in the film brings back the vintage 80s feeling with a futuristic flair. The High Five’s avatars, as well as many other avatars in the OASIS, dress in an 80’s teen style. When Parzavil is getting ready to see Art3mis at a nightclub, he dresses like his favorite 80’s movie character, Buckaroo Bonzai. The High Five dresses in an 80s style in the real world as well.

Ready Player Two


Ernest Cline announced there will be a sequel novel titled Ready Player Two available November 24. Ready Player One brought back the 80s with its style and cultural references. Fans are excited to see how Ready Player Two will continue Wade Watts’ story and have no doubt it will be full of cultural references as well.

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