So though I spent 99% of my bank holiday weekend painting our house, I managed to find an evening to see Ready Player One – one of my favourite books despite my better judgment and a movie I’ve been highly anticipating despite the fact the trailers were not giving me a great deal of hope.
To give some perspective here is my review of the book from the beginning of the year, before I give my opinions on the film:
I ended up really enjoying this book, against my better judgment – it kept me hooked and I found myself picking it up, again and again, wanting to know what happened next.
Sorrento made a truly hateful villain, impressive since he’s not in the book himself all that much, and even though I could see the OASIS was a poisonous obsession and scarily something I could imagine coming along and ruining our lives in reality I still despised the Sixers (Sux0rz, if you prefer) and what they planned to do. Not because I equated it to the end of the world like the characters clearly did, but because a dying wish is a dying wish and trying to manipulate it the way they wanted to was pretty sucky, to say the least.
Granted it’s far from perfect and a lot of the 80s references went way over my head having been born at the tail end of the nineties but I appreciated the effort the author had clearly put into it, even if it felt like he was just like James Halliday attempting to enshrine and force his obsession with a bygone era on the reader.
There were a few things I didn’t like about it besides this, Wade, for example, I found fickle – he dedicates five years of his life to obsessing over the hunt for the egg and within two seconds he doesn’t care anymore and he’s obsessed with some random girl he stalked as a side hobby? Pick an obsession and stick with it, dude.
There were very specific phrases and sentences that made several identical appearances which were glaringly obvious and slightly annoying to me since they could have been easily replaced by something else – “Get the hell out of Dodge” was used a total of four times in the book, doesn’t sound like much but when it’s only 372 pages long, it’s 3 times too many in my opinion. That, and “I’d never had such an immediate connection with a human being,” I think also tallied 3 or 4, – yeah we get it, you like her a lot. Shut up.
Yet despite all this, I did really like it because though I’m not quite on Wade’s level, I could relate to the general nerdiness even if it was over a lot of things I didn’t follow myself.
(The Rivendell themed mansion sounded a-mazing).
It is less than gushing, for sure, but this is one of those books that improves on reflection and watching the film made me desperately want to read it and experience it all over again. I really just love the general nerdiness of it. I might get the audiobook – narrated by Wil Wheaton!!
Now for the movie review – and your mild …
A quick disclaimer – this is by no means a comprehensive movie review. I prefer books really and will only write about specific movies and when I do write about them I’m only going to write about the key things I care about in that movie. In this case, it’s casting, soundtrack, CGI/animation, and the plot. The list expands and contracts depending on how much of a reaction a movie gets out of me. Wonder Woman, for example, would have a longer this because I was pretty much welled up with emotion the whole g**damn way through.
As far as casting was concerned, I didn’t particularly care all that much as I hadn’t had a fan cast in mind when reading the book. So long as they didn’t try to overly-glamorise the leads and negate the insecurities that are so key to their characters and why they love the OASIS so much – I was cool. To be honest, they did a really good job – the actors themselves didn’t really spend a lot of time on screen as it was mainly voice-over acting and CGI but I felt like they were really spot on choices. For sure, Olivia Cooke and Tye Sheridan are gorgeous, no doubt about it but they dressed them well for their roles and they and their supporting actors did a kick-ass job. They all play the weird, cringey parts out well.
Aech, portrayed by Lena Waithe was especially awesome. T. J. Miller (who I briefly mistook for Josh Gad – oops) did a great job voicing I-r0k an unimportant character in the book who plays a more significant – not to mention incredibly funny – role in the movie. I knew I knew his voice from somewhere – he’s Tuffnut & Gruffnut!
I expected better Spielberg. You had the whole of the 80s and I suppose in the case of this movie the 90s. I was expecting Guardians of the Galaxy level awesome. I mean what we got wasn’t bad but it wasn’t I-gotta-get-me-that-soundtrack-good either.
Intro. Jump (Van Halen)
1. I Wanna Be Your Lover (Prince)
2. Everybody Wants to Rule The World (Tears for Fears)
3. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (The Temptations)
4. Stand On It (Bruce Springsteen)
5. One Way or Another (Blondie)
6. Can’t Hide Love (Earth, Wind & Fire)
7. Blue Monday (New Order)
8. Stayin’ Alive (Bee Gees)
9. We’re Not Gonna Take It (Twisted Sister)
10. You Make My Dreams (Daryl Hall & John Oates)
11. Pure Imagination (Bryan Nguyen feat. Merethe Soltvedt)
Cline has his own Spotify playlist that isn’t the movie one here which is better.
CGI/Animation of the OASIS
The movie really brought the OASIS to life in a big way for me and I appreciated the little geeky Easter eggs dotted around like certain characters – I see you Injustice Super-girl – and places. Visually, it was fantastic in the cinema. Was it how I imagined/ Not necessarily but that’s not a bad thing. Action sequences were pretty nerdily good – despite the annoyingly dragging ending too.
Aech’s avatar was pretty different than in the book but I liked it a lot and the same goes for Parzival, Daito, Sho and Art3mis. They went a bit more Sci-Fi/fantasy with their appearances which I guess they could afford to do since they completely go rid of Ludus and the whole school part of the story.
Which leads me to the last and least favourite part of the movie.
I liked the gates in the book. They made sense and were entertaining. If you’ve read the book you’ll know, but for those who haven’t in the search for Halliday’s Easter egg each player must find three keys that unlock three gates. You get a clue to find the key, the key then in turn comes with a clue to find the gate which has a level you must complete to clear the gate. Once you clear the gate you get the next clue for the next key until bingo you get to the last one and win. Like a video game.
I’m aware there are time constraints with a movie and that’s why there wasn’t this many levels in it but there was nothing wrong with the gates/challenges/clues in the book – they would have looked great on screen but they ignored all of them. Right down to the first one. The whole point is Wade is the first one to solve the clue not that some random-er did it ages ago and he went from there. Now, I don’t know if there were copyright issues and that’s why they couldn’t use them or maybe Cline (who co-wrote the screenplay) had so many ideas for the book he thought he’d use the ones he couldn’t use then in this. I really don’t know but I’m sure other bookworms can relate on how difficult it is to enjoy a movie when you’re sat there with your popcorn and each bite sounds like wrong. incorrect. nope. illogical. false. WRONG.
I mean – I just …
They literally barely even used the least significant part of one.
That and they made Wade and the high Five meet way too early, AND got rid of the significant death that joins their forces to begin with. I like that they all meet in the end. The whole point is that the real prize they got out of it was friendship and camaraderie. If you let them meet early then what do they learn? They also give Wade’s most important act of the book over to Art3mis who admittedly, does a stellar job and would be totally bad-ass if they didn’t make all her female, awesome independence moot by making Wade save her in the end anyway.
Okay, rant over.
All in all, I would recommend people see it because it wasn’t a bad film. It just wasn’t the book but it was never going to be. I’d recommend seeing it movie first then book, because it won’t really ruin the book’s plot for you and if you enjoy the film you will really love the book.
Wired has a good discussion about it here if you want to read more!
Have you seen it yet? Or are you hesitant? Let me know what you’re thinking or if you think I’m being too harsh – and since pretty much everyone I went with really liked it (though they haven’t read the book), that’s a very real possibility.
Until next time!