Ready Player One: New York at 88 miles an hour

March 2018 saw the release of Steven Spielberg’s film Ready Player One with Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke, adapted from the novel by Ernest Cline, Player One. This feature film pays homage, through a crazy race, to the city that’s a reference in pop culture: New York.

In 2045, multiple wars and crises have inflicted great damage to the world, but above all, they have led humans to find a new way out. Two creators of video games, James Halliday and Ogden Morrow invented a virtual reality game called O.A.S.I.S. which allows every one of us to become whoever we want and to do absolutely anything we want in the world. Ogden Morrow gets fired by James Halliday, who subsequently dies in 2040. Before dying, Halliday had hid three keys in the game giving access to an Easter Egg, which gives its owner all the shares that James Halliday possessed and thus total ownership of O.A.S.I.S. Parzival is one of the “egg hunters”, the people searching at all costs the slightest clue to attain the objective of the quest.

In every minute of this super-production, there’s at least one reference to the world of video games, comics or movies that have left their mark in recent years. A pinch of Space Invader, a dash of Batman, a peppering of Ninja Turtles, all the ingredients come together for a movie beyond successful. But talk about pop culture without taking about New York, now that’s mission impossible.

During the first minutes of the movie, Parzival is getting ready to compete in the hardest race of O.A.S.I.S. in order to get the first key hidden by James Halliday leading to the famous Easter Egg. Parzival isn’t going to burn rubber with any old vehicle, but with the legendary DeLorean from the movie Back to the Future. And the playground? The Big Apple.

The race begins on Manhattan Bridge. The Statue of Liberty starts the race by setting off fireworks from her torch that she so proudly brandishes. Numerous competitors are eliminated right away after only a few meters onto the bridge where the metro and cars go side-by-side. Parzaival notices Art3mis, a female player that he’s a fan of, amongst the participants.

The contenders then pass in front of Ratner’s. Closed today, this kosher restaurant, located initially at 138 Delancey Street, appeared in The French Connection, the series Naked City and not to forget Inxeba. Its neon sign was part of the New York landscape. It’s just in front of this restaurant that the racers are cut off by a truck, under which Parzival just makes it thanks to the DeLorean’s retractable tires.

Then going down Fifth Avenue, followed by Chinatown, Parzival notices King Kong on top of the Empire State building, probably the most mythical scene in the history of cinema. The giant gorilla then takes off after the drivers, partly destroying the Queensboro Bridge and passing in front of Silvercup Studios. These legendary studios have been used by the productions of Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, Quantico, and also Gangs of New York, Highlander or even The Devil Wears Prada.

The finish line seems so close, and yet our heroes are not going to cross it, King Kong is blocking the way. After 4 minutes and 53 seconds of a mind-blowing race, Parzival stubbornly insists on finding a new way to win the race. It’s by immersing himself in a memory of James Halliday that our hero hears the O.A.S.I.S. creator’s voice say “Backwards, really fast. Fast as we can. Really put the pedal to the metal, you know!” So Parzival understands how to win the race and manages to cross the finish line, situated at the Bethesda fountain, in the heart of Central Park.

Le tracé de la course de Ready Player One

The layout of the race is not the most realistic considering New Your geography, this sequence made life difficult for the decorators and special effects teams, but the astonishing graphics combined with the multiple references to the up-tempo city could only result in an extraordinary moment in cinema. Ready player one?

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