Reviews

‘Ready Player One’: A Book To Movie Success?

Are the Ready Player One Movie Changes Good?

Ready Player One, the next highly anticipated film under director Steven Spielberg’s belt, dropped Thursday. Based on the book of the same title by Ernest Cline, the movie delves into the future world of 2045 when the “Great Energy Crisis” has left the world in chaos. Everyone is looking for a way to distract themselves from their troubles. That distraction comes in the shape of a contest to win the large fortune of the deceased creator of the OASIS.

Wade Watts Ready Player OneThe OASIS is the virtual reality world where you can be anyone you want to be, anywhere you want to be it. In the story, teenager Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and his gamer friends Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Aech (Lena Waithe), Daito (Win Morisaki) and Shoto (Philip Zhao) team up to find an Easter egg that will unlock it all before the evil IOI gets to it first.

I had the pleasure of reading the book about three years ago and absolutely fell in love with it. Cline has the rare talent of seamlessly meshing the old nostalgic feel of the ’80s and ’90s with the technological advancements of the future to create a world as real as our own. When I heard Spielberg was directing the film (who was a big inspiration for Cline’s novel), I was ecstatic. Yet, I was hesitant to get my hopes up too high. Hollywood has the unfortunate track record of ruining movies recreated from books. I still held out hope as Cline himself co-wrote the script.

So, while I will not spoil the movie for those of you who have not had the pleasure to watch it, I will say while the general plot of the story stays the same, although there is quite a bit that has been changed in order to appeal to the movie audience. Significant plotlines are made simpler, car chases are added (yes, that major car scene at the focus of all the commercials is nowhere to be seen in the book), and villains are made more…evil. Nonetheless, this will be an enjoyable movie for anyone who loves a great sci-fi action movie.

Characters

The characters go through significant alterations for Ready Player One’s transition to the screen. The “High Five” team in Ready Player One is a force to be reckoned with in both the real world and the OASIS. Wade and his friends work like a well-oiled machine to take on the largest corporation in the world, not like the competitive-friendly rivals they are in the book. Some of the major accomplishments Wade achieves in the book are split up amongst the other characters. The change actually makes sense for the movie, as people will be less likely to complain about such a large focus on the protagonist. This difference also gives credit for saving the world to more than the story’s stereotypical straight, white male hero. I surprisingly enjoyed the expanded roles of the other characters and how they fit in this changed story.

Ready Player One AvatarsI found Wade to be less sympathetic in the film than I did in the book. The movie barely skims over his backstory. In the book,  his dreams of getting out of the “stacks” (the vertical trailer park where he lives) encourage him to move to Columbus, Ohio where everyone involved in running and operating the OASIS works. He doesn’t really have any friends outside of his virtual friends in the OASIS. He’s not attractive, and he lives in the laundry room of a cramped double-wide trailer with his aunt and two other families.

All he has going for him is the OASIS. In the movie, you don’t really see all of those struggles in the film. Wade comes across as only wanting to live the life of luxury if he won the contest. This separates him from Art3mis and her group of rebels who want to win if only to keep the evil IOI from controlling the OASIS. The OASIS is not just a virtual reality – it controls the world’s entire economy. In the end, I am wondering if he does it all just to impress the girl he likes. It just never felt like there was a point where the light came on for him which was unfortunate.

Story

As I said earlier, the storylines in Ready Player One had to become oversimplified in the film. This is done mostly for the sake of time. The book is 385 pages of straight action. All of that could not fit into a two-and-a-half-hour film. It disappoints me the film lost some of its magic. It spread its focus from the ’70s to the ’90s instead of mainly pulling references from the ’80s. Also, due to proper rights issues, the movie was missing some pretty cool pop culture characters.

I know Spielberg tried his hardest to lease the rights to some of the Star Wars characters, but Disney was very firm in their not allowing any of their characters to be used. I also wish some more anime references are made, but they are replaced with more recognizable Western characters in order to appeal to the primarily American audience.

Despite the multiple changes, I enjoyed the film’s story. It was close enough to the original that I knew what was happening. It is still fresh enough that the twists and turns surprise me.

Visual Effects

Ready Player One TracerSpielberg did a fantastic job with the visual effects of this movie. Set in 2045 for a majority of the film, he did not try to make the real world too unrealistic. There were no flying cars, asymmetrical clothes, or colorful hairstyles. People looked pretty normal – at least until you entered the OASIS.

In the OASIS, everyone has an avatar and it can be anything you want it to be – large, small, a cartoon character, or a normal human. The choice is yours. For those who look like normal humans, I found myself constantly impressed by the realistic animation. Since people use VR goggles and bodysuits to control their characters, the animators really needed them to look as human-like as possible. Every gesture and every facial expression had to look as human as possible. I really appreciated the work the animators put into the characters.

While the visual effects throughout the entire movie were spectacular, the ending battle scene is my favorite. There were thousands of different characters from a wide range of movies, comics, and shows engaging in this epic battle. Not to mention, all the different weapons show up all at the same time. There was so much going on that you never know where to keep your focus. I can’t even imagine how much time that one scene took. I saw the film in 2D but I heard watching it in 3D is even more amazing.

Overall

All in all, this movie was amazing. Unfortunately, it missed out on a lot of the pop culture references that made Ready Player One so good. The characters change significantly and plot lines are simplified. Still, Spielberg did a fantastic job with it and I will definitely watch it again – this time in 3D.  I highly recommend this movie to book fans and movie buffs alike.


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About the author

Michaela Johnson

Michaela Johnson lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband, Jared, their puppy, Groot, and two large water turtles named Linus and Lucy. She enjoys reading whatever she can get her hands on and watching any super hero film she can get tickets to. Michaela has been reading comics since she was a child and hopes to one day write her own.