“Ready Player One” – The Movie
This feels like an end of an era… or certainly a long time coming. If you’ve read pretty much anything I’ve written-especially in the last three years-you’d know that I’ve dedicated a tremendous amount of time writing about “Ready Player One” the book and how I’ve been anticipating, speculating, and rumor-trafficking how the movie would be adapted from the 2011 novel. Now that I have had a proper amount of time to digest the 2 hour and 20 minute adaptation, I have a few choice words for it. This review will be more of a comparative analysis of book-to-movie and chock-full of spoilers and maybe an Easter Egg or two. Hey… it is Easter Sunday after all.
“Ready Player One” (for those who are reading my very first post on the matter) is a science-fiction story written about a dystopian future where people would rather try to outlive their problems instead of trying to fix them. A world where nearly everyone in the world is constantly logged in to a virtual reality simulation called the OASIS.
Every OASIS user receives the tragic news about its original creator, James Halliday, dying and leaving his entire fortune hidden inside the massive OASIS world (called an Easter Egg.) Three keys were to be found. The first to find all three keys and open all three gates gets the fortune. The main character we follow is Parzival (in the OASIS) or Wade Watts (IRL.)
As a screenwriter watching the movie, I found so many changes, differences, additions, and subtractions from what was in the book when compared to the movie. Most of these changes I liked. Some of them, I loved. The most obvious were that all the clues given to find the keys and the challenges that were presented were completely different from the book. Being someone who has obviously read the book several times, I was relieved that I wasn’t going to be ten steps ahead of anyone who was watching the movie that hadn’t read the book. These new and original challenges and clues were still very much in the spirit of how James Halliday was portrayed in the book, however. Nodding to a love of pop-culture that he had while growing up of which the book had constantly reminded us.
Despite these clever adjustments in the movie adaptation, one of my favorite and most visually stunning scenes in the movie occurs within the first ten minutes. The racing scene, which was a great vehicle (no pun intended) to introduce the main characters of the movie, while hiding in plain sight, the overflowing amount of pop-culture references. Staying true to the book, Parzival drove his modified DeLorean and it was a thing of beauty. Doc Brown would be proud. There is no such race in the book, but I absolutely appreciated the gratuitous amounts of eye candy that it gave off. Taking place in Delta City (RoboCop) and having King Kong and a T-Rex from “Jurassic Park” try to stop you from winning just to name a minimal amount of blatantly obvious Easter Eggs.
Yanking from the pages of Stephen King and the unquiet mind of Stanley Kubrick, one of the most surprising and deliciously disturbing scenes was when the gunters (those hunting for the egg) had to enter the simulation of the 1980 horror masterpiece “The Shining.” The terrifying and clever use of the pages in the shape of a key representing a timer while they searched the hotel encountering the lady in the bath tub, the twins, the elevator filled with blood, and an axe-wielding Jack Torrance to name a few.
Steven Spielberg brought to life in some of the most glorious ways possible a book that I have loved and have obsessed over for the last seven years. The original author, Ernest Cline, along with Zak Penn, presented a screenplay that was an absolute delight that felt more like an alternate draft of the book presented in a bite-sized way. I will admit that there were some things I would have liked to have seen, but if you want to know what those are, you’re just going to have to ask me.
Go see “Ready Player One” if you are a child of the 80s and 90s like myself. Even if you haven’t read the book, there’s something for everyone. I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie were nominated for a couple of visual effects awards in the future.
See you around, McFly.