Ready Player One
I’ve been trying to think of the best way to write this one up, thats why this post is going up so late.
Last night Sara and I went to an opening night/advance screening of Ready Player One, the much anticipated new film from Steven Spielberg adapted from the novel by Ernie Cline.
I first read the novel back in 2011 when it came out, I was working at the comic book shop at the time and I remember unpacking it from a delivery and thinking, this looks fun, I bought it the same day and read through it in a week. It was so much fun. The parallels to Charlie & The Chocolate Factory were obvious from the start but it felt like that story told by someone just a few years older than me. Having grown up with an older brother and sister who were nine and seven years older than me, watching stuff that was already considered old, playing with all their hand me down toys I always had tastes more from a few years before my time so all of the eighties nostalgia and references in the novel, and it is packed full of them, were hitting the mark for me. I appreciated the subtle ones way more than the obvious. Little obscure quotes that wouldn’t be overtly referenced by a character but were just there.
The book wasn’t breaking any new ground and it wasn’t an epic masterpiece by any stretch, it definitely has its flaws but I enjoyed the hell out of it none the less. So much so that a few years later I picked it up on audible and listened to it through again with Will Wheaton narrating.
When it was first announced a movie was being made of the book I was very skeptical and nervous. For starters I knew a lot was going to get cut and I wondered how they would go about acquiring the rights to use all of the different properties referenced throughout. I also was very unsure of how they would handle the visuals of The Oasis compared to the real world… Then it was announced that Steve Spielberg was directing, it would be an Amblin movie and that Ernie Cline was co-writing the script himself and a lot, not all but a lot, of my fears went away. It seemed like all the pieces were in place to make the best adaption they could make and honestly, I think that’s what we got.
I’m not going to go into great detail about all the changes between the movie and the novel, I’ll just say this; I can see what a lot of things were changed, some things that work on the page just aren’t cinematic and would be quite frankly boring to watch but for the most part I was okay with the alterations. I still definitely prefer the source material and I was disappointed in the way some elements were changed or cut out, but that is kind of a given whenever a property you like gets adapted, but I also think one of two of the tweaks in the movie work better than in the book.
While Cline leaned heavily, almost exclusively on the eighties and earlier for his references the film has taken a wider span and includes things through the nineties up to properties released just last year. At first this struck me as disappointing in the trailers but then when I did a little head-canon tweaking I think I came up with a pretty good reason. The main characters are obsessed with the eighties because Halladay, their hero, was obsessed with the era of his childhood, but that doesn’t mean the whole world is. Those people can choose to look like who or whatever they want so would of course go for stuff near and dear to them and that would be a much wider net than just the John Hughes aesthetic of our heroes.
What struck me the most as something I enjoyed was the ‘Amblin’ of it all. Between all the action and adventure there is some classic Spielberg moments between young people, the awkwardness, the heartfelt nature of it, you know what I mean, we’ve all seen E.T. or The Goonies. He manages to switch gears from that into a crazy fully mo-cap animated car chase or battle scene though and make you believe it.
Given the nature of the setting, when we’re in The Oasis you are completely forgiving of the visual effects, this is supposed to look like a video game and that it does.
Some people, a lot of people I suspect, are going to hate this movie and I’m not going to try and convince them otherwise. If you read the book and didn’t like it, you’ll really dislike the film. If you did read the book and can’t accept a lot of changes have been made for the sake of making this a two hour movie, you might also really dislike it. If you’re looking for a good fun time at the movies and enjoy lots of video game and pop culture nods wrapped up in an adventure story then you’ll probably have a great time.
Personally, I had a smile on my face the whole time and look forward to watching it again at home.
Let me know what you think, I’ll see you back here tomorrow.
Oh, I would be remiss to mention that Sara has been doing a series of Ready Player One inspired screen prints and selling them on her web store, the first one is available already and the second will be up very shortly if it isn't already. Definitely go check them out! Ditto Studios