Training to be a Gunter? Want to know the Top Movies referenced in Ready Player One? In Ready Player One, Ernest Cline took us on a tour of the greatest movies of the Eighties, even to the point of directly inserting Parzival into one of the movies.
What were the greatest trilogies of the 1980s (and beyond)? Ready Player One describes the following sets of movies as “The Holy Trilogies”: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Mad Max, Back to the Future, and Indiana Jones, not counting the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull onward.
Not to mention the quasi trilogy of John Hughes movies, discussed below.
Steven Spielberg had a hand in many of these. Did he bring the same magic to the Ready Player One movie? What do you think?
[*** “SPOILERS!!” *** SPOILER ALERT ***]
What Were the TOP Movies Referenced in Ready Player One?
Standard Gunter training, according to Parzival, required intense study of the James Halliday’s favorite movies:
I also watched every single film he referenced in the Almanac. If it was one of Halliday’s favorites, like WarGames, Ghostbusters, Real Genius, Better Off Dead, or Revenge of the Nerds, I rewatched it until I knew every scene by heart.
I devoured each of what Halliday referred to as “The Holy Trilogies”: Star Wars (original and prequel trilogies, in that order), Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Mad Max, Back to the Future, and Indiana Jones. (Halliday once said that he preferred to pretend the other Indiana Jones films, from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull onward, didn’t exist. I tended to agree.) (Ready Player One, p. 62)
TOP TEN LIST of Ready Player One Movies
NOTE: Nerdatron isn’t ranking the movies themselves, but their importance in Ready Player One … unless there’s a tie …
So, here goes …
First off, the Honorable Mentions:
- Real Genius & Tron – Movie posters of both are featured on Halliday’s bedroom wall.
- Ghostbusters – Parzival slapped a Ghostbusters logo on each of his DeLorean’s gull-wing doors.
- Krull – Another movie to get some hate in Ready Player One is this “Sword & Sorcery“ epic. Apparently, this is another movie that was easier to love as a kid. But hey, what’s not to love about … Robbie Coltrane and Liam Neeson in the same movie (albeit one of their firsts), AND that weirdly humorous teacher from the original Willy Wonka movie:
- Conan Saga – Parzival makes sure to “Thank, Crom” once or twice; the soundtrack is also featured several times.
- Goonies – Art3mis and Parzival visit the planet Goondocks and team up for the Goonies quest with Arty as Martha Plimpton’s character and Parzival as Sean Astin.
- The Ewoks movies – True Star Wars fans will argue with you that these movies aren’t true Star Wars canon until you’re ready to be thrown into a Sarlaac Pit. I can’t help it, though. I love them (at least I did as a kid). Aech loves them, even if ridiculed for it by Parzival. See more about this below. We’re talking here about Battle for Endor and Caravan of Courage [Amazon link]:
10. The Star Trek Canon
Parzival kept his school-issued OASIS console and haptic gloves, the most valuable things he owned, in a Star Trek lunch box. [Help support by buying your Star Trek lunch box:]
Parizval had also watched it all – TOS, TNG, DS9, plus the movies, and even Voyager and Enterprise – all in chronological order.
Lastly, “The Great & Powerful Og,” Ogden Morrow, wore a faded Star Trek: The Next Generation t-shirt while mixing at his birthday party … before the Sixers showed up.
9. 2010: The Year We Make Contact
“My God, it’s full of stars!” is quoted and Also Sprach Zarathustra plays as Parzival enters the First Gate:
Maybe some similarity, too, with …
8. The Highlander Movies
More hate, BUT this time it was only Highlander II: The Quickening, the weird space odyssey. Here’s a great write-up from Den of Geek about everything that went haywire in Highlander II. Sufficeth to say, the immortals are revealed to be alients, or should I say “Zeistians” or something like that.
Nevertheless, there is much to love about Highlander I. It should be a classic based on the merits of the Queen soundtrack alone, but it also has Sean Connery. Oddly, though, Sean Connery is not the one with the Scottish accent in the … Highlander.
Highlander‘s great relevance to Ready Player One, however, is the role it plays in the first meeting of Parzival and Art3mis. Parzival, in a great show of nerdy bravado, quotes the movie (and Sean Connery’s character):
“Greetings,” I said, bowing slightly. “I am Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez.”
She smirked. “Chief metallurgist to King Charles the Fifth of Spain?”
“At your service,” I replied, grinning. She’d caught my obscure Highlander quote and thrown another right back at me. It was Art3mis, all right. Ready Player One, p. 88.
Also, guess what Art3mis’ favorite movie was!
Parzival: OK. What’s your favorite movie? Of all time?
Art3mis: It changes. Right now? Probably Highlander.
Parzival: You’ve got great taste, lady.
Art3mis: I know. I have a thing for evil bald bad guys. The Kurgan is too sexy.
Parzival: I’m going to shave my head right now. And start wearing leather.
(Ready Player One, pp. 173-174)
Sexy? Okay, whatever:
7. Mad Max Trilogy
That’s The Road Warrior, Mad Max, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, FYI.
What’s your favorite part? It’s still the “Feral Child” that’s forever etched in Nerdatron’s memory banks … and the infamous “falling fingers scene”:
Ouchie! Click to buy on Amazon:
Having perhaps disproportionately few Ready Player One references given it’s ranking, there’s one very important reference:
It was Art3mis.
She wore a suit of scaled gunmetal-blue armor that looked more sci-fi than fantasy. Twin blaster pistols were slung low on her hips in quickdraw holsters, and there was a long, curved elvish sword in a scabbard across her back. She wore fingerless Road Warrior–style racing gloves and a pair of classic Ray-Ban shades. Overall, she seemed to be going for a sort of mid-’80s postapocalyptic cyberpunk girl-next-door look. And it was working for me, in a big way. In a word: hot.
(Ready Player One, p. 87)
And, of course, it’s one of the Holy Trilogies.
And Now the EPIC Nerd Fight …
Which also references most of the above movies …
Probably the best nerd fight in Ready Player One and possibly one of the best ever!
Parzival and Aech erupted in a Starlog-throwing argument over the Matthew Broderick movie Ladyhawke. It was, as Aech describes, a “chick flick disguised as a sword-and-sorcery picture” directed by Richard Donner.
Even better, the argument’s counterpoint involved The Ewoks Movies of Star Wars, Battle for Endor and Caravan of Courage, both of which figured prominently in this 80s kid’s childhood. I just loved that floppy-haired blonde girl and the ewoks, i.e. the “Endorians,” as a kid.
So here’s the whole epic nerd fight:
I eyed the magazine’s cover. “Hey, can I have a look at that when you’re done?”
He grinned. “Why? So you can read the article on Ladyhawke?”
“Man, you just love that crapburger, don’t you?”
“Blow me, Aech.”
“How many times have you seen that sapfest? I know you’ve made me sit through it at least twice.” He was baiting me now. He knew Ladyhawke was one of my guilty pleasures, and that I’d seen it over two dozen times.
“I was doing you a favor by making you watch it, noob,” I said. I shoved a new cartridge into the Intellivision console and started up a single-player game of Astrosmash. “You’ll thank me one day. Wait and see. Ladyhawke is canon.”
“Canon” was the term we used to classify any movie, book, game, song, or TV show of which Halliday was known to have been a fan.
“Surely, you must be joking,” Aech said.
“No, I am not joking. And don’t call me Shirley.”
Can’t let the reference pass me by …
He lowered the magazine and leaned forward. “There is no way Halliday was a fan of Ladyhawke. I guarantee it.”
“Where’s your proof, dips**t?” I asked.
“The man had taste. That’s all the proof I need.”
“Then please explain to me why he owned Ladyhawke on both VHS and LaserDisc?” A list of all the films in Halliday’s collection at the time of his death was included in the appendices of Anorak’s Almanac. We both had the list memorized.
“The guy was a billionaire! He owned millions of movies, most of which he probably never even watched! He had DVDs of Howard the Duck and Krull, too. That doesn’t mean he liked them, a**hat. And it sure as hell doesn’t make them canon.”
“It’s not really up for debate, Homer,” I said. “Ladyhawke is an eighties classic.”
“It’s f***ing lame, is what it is! The swords look like they were made out of tinfoil. And that soundtrack is epically lame. Full of synthesizers and shit. By the motherf***ing Alan Parsons Project! Lame-o-rama! Beyond lame. Highlander II lame.”
“Hey!” I feigned hurling my Intellivision controller at him. “Now you’re just being insulting! Ladyhawke’s cast alone makes the film canon! Roy Batty! Ferris Bueller! And the dude who played Professor Falken in WarGames!” I searched my memory for the actor’s name. “John Wood! Reunited with Matthew Broderick!”
“A real low point in both of their careers,” he said, laughing. He loved arguing about old movies, even more than I did. The other gunters in the chat room were now starting to form a small crowd around us to listen in. Our arguments were often high in entertainment value.
“You must be stoned!” I shouted. “Ladyhawke was directed by Richard f***ing Donner! The Goonies? Superman: The Movie? You’re saying that guy sucks?”
Nerd Fight intermission for some more great movie references:
“I don’t care if Spielberg directed it. It’s a chick flick disguised as a sword-and-sorcery picture. The only genre film with less balls is probably … freakin’ Legend. Anyone who actually enjoys Ladyhawke is a bona fide USDA-choice pussy!”
Laughter from the peanut gallery. I was actually getting a little pissed off now. I was a big fan of Legend too, and Aech knew it.
“Oh, so I’m a pussy? You’re the one with the Ewok fetish!” I snatched the Starlog out of his hands and threw it against a Revenge of the Jedi poster on the wall. “I suppose you think your extensive knowledge of Ewok culture is gonna help you find the egg?”
“Don’t start on the Endorians again, man,” he said, holding up an index finger. “I’ve warned you. I will ban your a**. I swear.” I knew this was a hollow threat, so I was about to push the Ewok thing even further, maybe give him some crap for referring to them as “Endorians.”
But just then, a new arrival materialized on the staircase. A total lamer by the name of I-r0k.
Ready Player One, pages 40-42
EPIC NERD FIGHT!!
Who do you think won? Parzival’s Richard Donner argument is compelling … but I can’t join in on the Ewok movies hate.
I’m a big fan of Legend, too, even if it does star Tom Cruise. Why? Because Tim Curry plays one of scariest – speaking as my 7-year-old self, here – representations of the Devil ever:
Yeah, that goes for my adult-self, as well … SCARY!
COMING SOON: You will be able to buy your own “LadyHawke Rules” shirts in the Nerdatron store. The back of the shirt includes the epic nerd fight in full.
COMING SOON II: For the #5 through #1 of the TOP Ready Player One Movie References, click HERE.