Ready Player One is a best selling book by Ernest Cline. The book revolved around the character Wade Watts as he went from a penniless high school student to the hero of a virtual world. Washed in the essence of 80’s geek culture, the book tests the reader’s own knowledge of the obscure and nostalgic as they try to solve the challenges as well.
Ready Player One the film is a movie based on the book about why all of that stuff earlier is bad. Rather than being a movie that celebrates what it means to be a geek, it brings to light the negatives. Visually, the movie managed to hold onto the spirit of the book showing the various worlds that a player could travel. As well as representing the “Sixers”– the large player army used by IOI– as faceless masses working for an equally faceless and uncaring corporation. That said, the movie has only tangential links to its origin to the point that it is nearly unrecognizable to fans of the book.
In broad strokes, the movie matches up with the book. Parzival and his friends need to get the egg and control of the OASIS, before IOI does. Unfortunately, the book received the same treatment that Jaws received when it was made into a movie. That is, Spielberg had to completely change the finer details of the book because the characters were so unlikable, he needed to change them. As an example, in the Jaws book, Hooper has an affair with Brody’s wife in a subplot. There it made sense that the story would need to be redone to make the characters more likable to audiences. While it’s true that the characters in RPO are extremely introverted in the real world, but their true character shows the most when they’re logged in. All five of the protagonists are very well rounded and bring individual strengths to make everyone better.
So it was a heavy disappointment, when I realized that the characters I had read about were gone. All of them had been reduced to needing Parzival to hold their hands and walk them to through the challenges. For instance, in the book Art3mis actually gets to the bronze key challenge a full month before Parzival does. And beats him later, in solving the riddle for the jade key and needing his friend Aech to tell him where to find it. The only time she actually agrees to help him directly is when everyone’s back is to the wall and they have no other choice. That’s not the case in the movie however, it’s Parzival who solves the riddles, knows the exact obscure information needed to solve the riddles, and none of his companions is able to make a move forward without him. Turning very independent and strong minded individuals to flat and uninteresting characters.
Overall I couldn’t get into the film with the bad characterization and any other complaint that I had stems directly from it. I understand that the film isn’t for me, but I’ve liked other movies that were not for me because they had relate-able characters and a decent story. But the film managed to miss every mark it could. So my knowledge of the book deviations didn’t decide I didn’t like the film, but definitely gave me more to dislike and lead to thinking how much better the book is than the movie. For someone that’s made a career out of turning books into blockbuster movies, it’s very disappointing that he missed the mark so hard with this movie. GG, everyone.
Ready Player One
True to source2.5/10
- Plenty of easter egg references hidden in the film
- Panoramic shots look fantastic
- Characters are flat
- The villains are insanely imcompotent
- The riddles and challenges have nothing to do with celebrating geek culture
- Ending misses the point of the entire story
- Poor choices in avatar selection given later required reveals