I really hate it when they make movies out of books I love.
At their core, there’s no way that the movie will hold up to my expectations. I have been burned twice recently, what with the abomination of The Dark Tower, and my hopes plummeted when I saw the first trailer for Ready Player One. As a book, Ready Player One is about overcoming your own personal demons and rising up to do what is right. As a movie, Ready Player One is a love story and at the end, a feeble attempt to tell gamers to go outside “because reality is the only thing that is real”.
So lets jump right in.
ALL THE SPOILERS
You have been warned.
The things I liked:
- I thought OASIS was brilliantly done. I’ve seen folks complain about the CGI element how how it felt like watching a video game, but I didn’t have that feeling at all. Even though it was different from the book, the first challenge was exhilarating, especially as Wade (ahem, sorry, Parzival) goes backward through it in the code. All in all I thought that world was stunningly built.
- Lena Waithe was everything I wanted for Aech. I have loads of other complaints about how this character was not treated justly, but that has nothing to do with Lena. I thought she was brilliant.
Daito and Shoto. In the books, these two gunters are really more of an afterthought. I appreciated that they were more important in the movie – I always felt they really could have been left out of the book.4/14 update: WHAT WAS I THINKING. Daito and Shoto were huge in the books! If anything, the fact that Daito’s story changed lessened the strength of the plot!
- i-Rok. This character had such potential, even though he was a jerk and totally didn’t matter in the book. In the movie, he was fun, smart, dangerous… and then just fell off at the end like he never even mattered… so why was he there. BUT. I really thought they were going to do some character growth and interestingness with him so I was along for that ride until I wasn’t.
- The pop culture references. I’m definitely a pop culture nerd, so my heart blossomed with every reference I recognized.
The things I didn’t like:
- The pop culture references. Dude – Halliday wasn’t a pop culture fanatic. He was an 80s fanatic. I’m sure the callouts to things like Arkham Knight and Overwatch are fun, but they aren’t in-character for Halliday.
- Aech. Actually, Aech was far and away the best character in the film. But she was SO MUCH MORE in the book. The fact that she was a girl wasn’t really surprising, and they totally left out that she was gay, which may not seem like a big deal, but if you don’t show that rep, it’s like it never existed.
- The Real World. This was such a mess. There’s continuity issues (seriously how did a crowd have pretty signs and posters magically five minutes after arriving? I have lots of these small complaints) in what was there, and NOTHING in the real world got pulled from the books. Nope! Now we have a sappy love story and a pretty girl and a Bossman who leaves his password in plain sight and come on, seriously? Aside from the opening shot, which was the book cover, this was a nightmare.
- Useless villains are useless. The bad guys in this story were flat, boring, and … I mean, they were basically Stormtroopers. Couldn’t hit anything, ran into each other, were always conveniently looking the other way. They wanted a good vs. evil plot and honestly I could not be bothered with their Boris and Natasha (Rocky & Bullwinkle) clumsy villains.
- The love story. The freaking love story.
This book had no love story. We didn’t need one. It was brilliant on its own.It was a glorious treasure hunt and it was AMAZING. Now Halliday’s love story and Wade/Samantha’s love story is the plot and who the hell cares, come on. ** 4/14 update: Okay, so the book did have a love story, but not like THIS. It was a subplot and Sam didn’t combine until the last chapter and it was so much more powerful that way. Pfft.
- Flat characters. There was NO growth whatsoever. Even Wade, who should have been dirt poor and overweight and purposeless was supposed to rise, earn his money, work hard to get healthy, and be properly sneaky and delightful. Nope! Within the first 20 minutes, Wade is fifty rich, all the characters are attractive, and Samantha has all the brains and apparently loyal henchmen and just them saying “I have history” doesn’t make me believe it. (Also Wade’s line, “You killed my mom’s sister?” … Aunt. Say “aunt”.)
- How they figured out the clues. This was ridiculous. They went on poor whims and spent a lot of time explaining how they figured it all out with one lousy word. Pure silliness.
- Why did you change all the challenges? It’s like they took the core of the story and went “I like the three keys thing, but lets do this instead!” I get that watching Joust in the movie may be a little dull, but I feel like there were ways to make it work. To make any of the tasks work the way they were written.
Things I have mixed feelings about:
Actually, it’s just the one. The second task – The Shining. I’m like Aech, I don’t do horror, so a lot of this was lost on me. They changed it to work with the love story. I never expected the first gate to be War Games, but I wish it was. War Games is such a quintessential 80s flick and what’s more, I don’t understand how you can make a movie like this and not have Matthew Broderick in it at all. He was the king of 80s teen movies! The gates were removed altogether, and the cool idea that was gate one became warped into key two and just #mess.
The second task was visually gorgeous, but I wanted War Games. That movie worked so well with Halliday, too, I just… pfft. I wish they had used that.
Honestly overall this movie was a travesty compared to the book. I will continue to wholehearted recommend Ready Player One, but as it was intended… in book or audiobook format. My heart breaks because this book was so prime for a screen adaptation without any needed changes. It had complicated characters and an interesting, high action story, and loads of fun nostalgia.
IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK.
Ready Player One, without the context of how truly amazing the book is, can be a very entertaining film. The characters are flat and villains pathetic, like I said, but it is fun and fascinating and prime for imagination. I would love to go to OASIS and I think that they build the world amazingly. It’s a fun family movie, not even too scary for the kids, and right in the vein of what anyone could want from Spielberg.
I wish it was the book. I wish with all my heart and soul that it was more like the book. But as a standalone experience, I think people will really enjoy it.