NEW YORK (WABC) -- Hollywood has long struggled with making movies about video games. "War Games" did a pretty decent job in 1983, but video games have changed a lot since then.
Steven Spielberg's new movie "Ready Player One" has tried to keep pace.
While the movie is set in the future, it has all the 80s references one could want in the age of "Stranger Things." Van Halen's tune "Jump" is just one of so many featured from that decade.
A quarter of a century from now, life is so grim most people turn to virtual reality for relief. Wade Watts, played by Tye Sheridan, lives in a stack of mobile homes in Columbus, Ohio, in the year 2045.
He seeks refuge from his less-than-ideal circumstances in "The Oasis," a game where all sorts of adventures are possible. The magic of this movie is in how we get to share the hero's experience putting on the visor and entering the amazing landscape of Virtual Reality.
As an avatar named Parzival, he engages with a crew of other avatars known as "The High Five."
The action moves back and forth between what is tangible and what isn't.
"If you're watching this, I'm dead," says the Oasis creator, played by Broadway star Mark Rylance. " I created a hidden object, or 'Easter Egg,' inside the game. The first person to find the egg will inherit half a trillion dollars and total control of 'The Oasis' itself."
A series of keys unlock clues in stages leading to the egg, and the suspense is provided by a bad guy who wants to gain ultimate power.
"It's nothing less than a war for control of the future," says the evil corporation man, played by Ben Mendelsohn.
And the war between the corporation and Wade's team is where this movie goes from great to overly ambitious.
Steven Spielberg doesn't need to be told how to make his movies. But this one is at least a half hour too long, a classic case of more being less.
What started with so much promise becomes just a standard Hollywood blockbuster to numb the minds of millions. "Ready Player One" really goes off the rails, and I was left sad for what might have been.
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