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A 2011 science fiction action adventure novel written by poet/screenwriter Ernest Cline; it was his first novel . It was adapted into a 2018 film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Zak Penn and Cline himself. Unusually for a Spielberg film, the orchestral soundtrack was composed by Alan Silvestri as opposed to John Williams. The film stars Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke.
It is the 2040s, and the world's society and economy have crumbled to the point that many people live in slums. In order to escape their dismal lives, people log into Oasis, a virtual reality MMORPG that is the world's most successful video game. The game is so popular that it not only made its creator James Halliday one of the richest people in the world, it has also become a major part of the world's economy as well the general population's lives. People's devotion to the game only increases when Halliday, on his deathbed, reveals that he has left an easter egg within Oasis. Whoever can complete the three special challenges, collect 3 keys, and find the egg will win the ultimate prize: control over Oasis itself.
Wade Watts, a boy who lives in a slum with his aunt and her abusive boyfriend, is one of the Oasis players determined to get the egg. To that end, he throughly researches Halliday's life to find clues that will lead him to the egg. Under his avatar name Parzival, he works together with his online friend Aech and teams with the famous female player Art3mis in order to find the egg. However, they are opposed by the ruthless corporation IOI, whose CEO Nolan Sorrento will do anything to get his hands on the egg. . .
The novel and film are notable for both being celebrations of pop culture with pop cultural references actually being integral to the story. At the same time, the story warns against the dangers of over indulging in escapism and ignoring real life. The book and film feature over a hundred references to and cameos by characters from other works. In context of the story, the cameo characters are not literally the original characters themselves, but are avatars chosen by the players. Nevertheless, they have the same abilities as the original characters. Although Spielberg was responsible for making of the some of the most iconic movies from the 1970s onward, he deliberately excluded references to and cameos from his own movies to avoid coming off as vain.
The film is a combination of live action and CG animation. The real world scenes are in live action whereas the Oasis scenes were done with CGI and the actors doing their own motion capture.
While the film has the same premise of the book and retains its cast, the film's plot progresses differently from the novel with the film coming up with 3 challenges that are distinct from the novel's. Due to legal complications, some of the novel's most notable cameos are absent, but they are replaced with different pop cultural references/cameos.
The novel and the film were both financially and critically successful with the novel becoming a New York Times Bestseller and the film receiving generally positive reviews and grossing over 400 million dollars.
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