Ready Player One is an epic celebration of one of the greatest decades for Sci-Fi movies ever: the Eighties. Have you read it yet or seen the movie?
As mentioned in the first half of this post (#10-#6), James Halliday, creator of the OASIS, compiled a list of movies called the “Holy Trilogies.”
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.
TOP TEN LIST of Ready Player One Movies: Part II
NOTE: Nerdatron isn’t ranking the movies themselves, but their importance in Ready Player One … unless there’s a tie …
NOTE #2: SPOILERS! SPOILER ALERT .. At least for the Ready Player One book.
First, a re-cap of the previous post Ready Player One Movie Easter Eggs #10-#5:
The Honorable Mentions: Real Genius, Tron, Ghostbusters, Krull, Conan, Goonies, and the Ewoks movies.
10. The Star Trek Canon
9. 2010: The Year We Make Contact
8. The Highlander Movies
7. Mad Max Trilogy
6. Ladyhawke & the Epic Nerd Fight
5. The John Hughes Teen Movies
Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, and pretty much anybody who had an acting career thereafter … at least on post-2012 TV shows.
This includes six John Hughes movies according to Art3mis’ categorization from her Arty’s Missives blog posts (take that Uncle Buck):
Her writing was still as funny and self-deprecating as ever. Her newest blog post was titled “The John Hughes Blues,” and it was an in-depth treatise on her six favorite John Hughes teen movies, which she divided into two separate trilogies: The “Dorky Girl Fantasies” trilogy (Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and Some Kind of Wonderful) and the “Dorky Boy Fantasies” trilogy (The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).
(Ready Player One, pp. 35-36)
(Click to purchase)
Halliday’s Last Will & Testament video, called Anarok’s Invitation, opens with Halliday’s younger self dancing in a high school gymnasium surrounded by dancing high schoolers from the 1980s. Gunter analysis of the gym reveals it’s actually full of extras copy and pasted from various John Hughes movies.”
Careful analysis of this [opening dance] scene reveals that all of the teenagers behind Halliday are actually extras from various John Hughes teen films who have been digitally cut-and-pasted into the video. (Ready Player One, p. 10)
Anarok’s Invitation also includes Halliday reading from his will … in one of the funeral scenes from Heathers, another Hughes classic, though much darker than the movies above.
The John Hughes canon also consumed three months of Parzival’s life and Gunter training:
I spent three months studying every John Hughes teen movie and memorizing all the key lines of dialogue.
Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive.
You could say I covered all the bases. (Ready Player One, p. 62)
4. Star Wars (Episodes I-VI)
Because, of course. Star Wars should always land in the Top 3 of any Sci-Fi ranking, right?
First, it is another “Holy Trilogy” from Anarok’s Almanac.
Second, the Entire. Stars Wars. Galaxy. was lovingly recreated within the OASIS, among others:
Other virtual worlds soon followed suit, from the Metaverse to the Matrix. The Firefly universe was anchored in a sector adjacent to the Star Wars galaxy, with a detailed re-creation of the Star Trek universe in the sector adjacent to that. Users could now teleport back and forth between their favorite fictional worlds. Middle Earth. Vulcan. Pern. Arrakis. Magrathea. Discworld, Mid-World, Riverworld, Ringworld. Worlds upon worlds. (Ready Player One, p. 49)
Next, the mere periphery of the Stars Wars canon, the Ewok movies, formed part of the epic nerd fight featured in the WarGames section.
Also, the Empire Strikes Back Atari game was inside Halliday’s bedroom and a Revenge of the Jedi posted hung in Aech’s virtual basement.
3. Back to the Future (I, II, & III)
Back to the Future was also mentioned in Anorak’s Almanac among the “Holy Trilogies.”
Even more importantly, a certain iconic prop from Back to the Future figures prominently in Ready Player One …
First off, it appears one of Halliday’s only purchases, upon becoming a multi-millionaire …
… was a fully-restored DeLorean:
By their thirtieth birthdays, Halliday and Morrow were both multimillionaires. They purchased mansions on the same street. Morrow bought a Lamborghini, took several long vacations, and traveled the world. Halliday bought and restored one of the original DeLoreans used in the Back to the Future films, continued to spend nearly all of his time welded to a computer keyboard, and used his newfound wealth to amass what would eventually become the world’s largest private collection of classic videogames, Star Wars action figures, vintage lunch boxes, and comic books.
The DeLorean appears again in Ready Player One. When Parzival makes his big entrance at Ogden Morrow’s 73rd birthday party at The Distracted Globe:
I made a big entrance when I arrived in my flying DeLorean, which I’d obtained by completing a Back to the Future quest on the planet Zemeckis. The DeLorean came outfitted with a (nonfunctioning) flux capacitor, but I’d made several additions to its equipment and appearance. First, I’d installed an artificially intelligent onboard computer named KITT (purchased in an online auction) into the dashboard, along with a matching red Knight Rider scanner just above the DeLorean’s grill. Then I’d outfitted the car with an oscillation overthruster, a device that allowed it to travel through solid matter. Finally, to complete my ’80s super-vehicle theme, I’d slapped a Ghostbusters logo on each of the DeLorean’s gull-wing doors, then added personalized plates that read ECTO-88.
I’d had it only a few weeks now, but my time-traveling, Ghost Busting, Knight Riding, matter-penetrating DeLorean had already become my avatar’s trademark. (Ready Player One, p. 182)
2. Blade Runner
Blade Runner has to be in the Top Ten, if only because it was in Halliday’s Top Ten. Blade Runner was based on the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, who was also one of Halliday’s top authors.
Blade Runner was “referenced in the text of Anorak’s Almanac no less than fourteen times” (Ready Player One, chapter 26). For these reasons, Parzival says, he had “seen Blade Runner over four dozen times and had memorized every frame of the film and every line of dialogue.”
But more important still …
Blade Runner was central to the riddle of the Jade Key and opening the Jade Gate. Parzival’s epiphany came while staring at the Jade Key’s silver wrapper, a six by six inch square. He was analyzing it using verbal commands as Harrison Ford had done in the movie:
This got Parzival thinking about Blade Runner, and how that perfect square piece of paper could be folded into a paper airplane … or used for origami. The character Gaff kept making origami animals throughout the movie. The last one was a unicorn:
The moment Parzival said “unicorn” out loud, the wrapper began folding itself until at last it formed a silver unicorn.
Parzival instantly put together the remaining piece of the riddle: Continue your quest by taking the test. The combination of Blade Runner and “test” could only mean one thing: the Voigt-Kampff machine. The Voigt-Kampff was used by Harrison Ford’s character, Rick Deckard, and other “blade runners” to distinguish between real human beings and “replicants,” genetically engineered humanoids. It measures bodily functions like a polygraph in response to questions dealing with empathy, which is treated as a uniquely human trait.
Parzival then knew the Jade Gate would involve getting to a Voigt-Kampff machine. This would be incredibly simple, apart from the gang of replicants guarding it, because there was a copy of the machine coded into every Tyrell building in the OASIS. The Tyrell building marked the skyline of most every city in the OASIS, because the code for the building was included as a free built-in template in the OASIS WorldBuilder construction software.
The Tyrell building was pretty hard to miss, as Parzival describes it, a massive pyramid-shaped structure covering several square kilometers at its base:
One of the greatest Sci-Fi movies of all time and perhaps the most visually stunning, it’s no wonder Blade Runner should figure prominently in Ready Player One. Nerdatron would like to leave you with one more image from the movie:
It seems like the entire Ready Player One plot line mirrors WarGames …
For starters, James Halliday had a poster of WarGames on his childhood bedroom wall in the Middletown replicas, along with Real Genius, Tron, and some rock band posters.
Most importantly, though, Parzival has to recite his way through the WarGames movie, itself, to clear the First Gate … which happens to appear behind the aforementioned WarGames poster.
Parzival (and the Gunters who follow) are actually inserted into the movie:
… Then, as I finished clearing the wave on Galaga, I noticed my reflection in the game’s screen. It wasn’t my avatar’s face I saw there. It was Matthew Broderick’s face. A young pre–Ferris Bueller and pre-Ladyhawke Matthew Broderick.
Then I knew where I was. And who I was.
I was David Lightman, Matthew Broderick’s character in the movie WarGames. And this was his first scene in the film.
I was in the movie.
(Ready Player One, p. 108)
Why had James Halliday includes this as part of the quest to find his Easter Egg? As Parzival describes:
WarGames had been one of Halliday’s all-time favorite movies. Which was why I had watched it over three dozen times.
Not only that, you could see how some of the Ready Player One characters and relationships were actually modeled after those in WarGames. James Halliday could see himself as Matthew Broderick’s character, Lightman, the young computer hacker getting into computers at the dawn of video games, or Professor Falken, the programming pioneer after whom Lightman is questing after …
Well, that, and also because it was completely awesome, with an old-school teenage computer hacker as the protagonist.
Mmmm, TAB …
Oh … and just in case you thought Nerdatron was bugging out …
#0. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python is all over this book. For starters, the plot-line. “Parzival” is the name of one of King Arthur’s knights, and Parzival is clearly on a quest for the holy grail: Halliday’s Easter Egg.
So let’s see … there’s a group photo of the Monty Python members in their Holy Grail costumes inside Parzival’s school locker. Parzival also studied Monty Python. And not just Holy Grail, but every single one of their films, albums, books, and episodes (even the two “lost” episodes they did for German television).
Also, there was Kira, Halliday’s unrequited love and Og’s wife. She was a British exchange student, who joined their Dungeons & Dragons group. Og described her as the “quintessential geek girl,” who was “unabashedly obsessed with Monty Python.”
But most important was how Monty Python and the Holy Grail figured into the Last Gate …
Just as Parzival was inserted into WarGames and required to act the part of David Lightman, Parzival was again inserted into another movie to clear Stage 2 of the Third Gate: Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
In one of the coolest scenes of all Ready Player One, Shoto, Aech, Art3mis, and Parzival (despite the avatars of the first three being killed just prior) work together to recite the movie’s lines.
One last bit: In the six years since Halliday’s death, Parzival had watched Holy Grail “exactly 157 times” and knew every word by heart.
Well, did Nerdatron’s sophisticated ranking-generating algorithm hit the mark? Let Nerdatron know what you think in the comments below!