Ready Player One is the vibrant, emotional and much-needed acknowledgment to all of us geeks around the world.

The book came out in 2011. I read it in 2015 when it started to become popular among teenagers. I didn’t understand at least half of the ’80’s references, but for some reason, I loved everything about it. When I found out it was going to be adapted into a film, I was skeptical, but then I watched it and I may have cried a little.

The story takes place in a futuristic world plagued by global crises. To escape reality, everyone lives in the virtual reality program, OASIS. Before his death, creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) sets up a competition that gives the winner sole control. As his avatar Parzival, protagonist Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) teams up with his best friend, Aech (Lena Waithe), and love interest, Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), who try to not only win the game, but also stop the government-like authority, the IOI, from gaining control.

The film has more of a “teens-saving-the-world” essence than the book had. Winning the competition is great, but the focus of the plot is more on Wade and his friends saving the game from the IOI. This change is not bad at all; it humanizes our characters into something more than their avatars. I enjoyed how their love for the virtual world forced them to literally come out of their shells and work together.

As such, the film prides itself on its relationships. Wade was on his own for at least half the novel, but he meets Art3mis in person early on in the film and their romance develops from there. Even Halliday’s relationship with his co-creator, Ogden Morrow (Simon Pegg), is explored. Director Steven Spielberg’s attention to these characters really showed off an emotional touch that was absent in the book.

Not only that but the action in the movie was like wearing a VR headset: immersive and visually stunning. Pop culture references brim full in these scenes and many of them are hilarious (ahem, Chucky). Unlike the book, even if you’re not a fan of pop culture, you can still enjoy the hell out of Ready Player One, the movie.

In terms of characters, Sheridan makes the perfect Wade Watts. With his wire-rimmed glasses and deep voice that cracks more than once, Sheridan brings to life the sweet and awkward Wade that I remember reading about back in 2015.

Supporting characters, such as Cooke as spunky Art3mis, Rylance as painfully shy Halliday and Waithe as hilarious Aech are brilliant as well. All of them have completely different personalities, but they work together beautifully to create a group of people that is both nerdy and lovable.

The book suffered a bad case of worldbuilding of the real world and character development. Unfortunately, the movie is no exception. Although the real world is shown to utmost detail in the film, the majority of it takes place in the OASIS. Likewise, there is no epiphany that our characters go through: They’re just hard-core geeks and love the OASIS and thus, try to save it.

Either way, I loved seeing one of my favorite books and some of my favorite characters come to life on the big screen. The visuals were to die for, the pop culture references killed it and the cast was so relatable. Spielberg and the entire film gave geeks a world that we could have only dreamed of — what else could we possibly ask for?

3.5/4 Shells.