I’m going to make this clear, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One was a thrilling, utterly amazing page-turner. It had action, it had heart, but most importantly, it had enough geek culture to choke Godzilla. Naturally, I was thrilled when I found out they were making a movie out of it with the author himself co-writing the screenplay, Steven Spielberg directing it, and John Williams composing the soundtrack! However, did the movie deliver on these expectations? It depends on your criteria.
For those of you who haven’t read the book, here’s the essential premise. The world is plagued by political, economic, and miscellaneous turmoil. Wars, power crises, economic collapse, and other badnesses (that’s a word now). People’s only consolation is a digital VR universe known as the OASIS, in which most people spend almost all of their time. However, when James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, dies, he releases a video announcing that he has hidden an easter egg in the OASIS and left a trail of breadcrumbs leading to it. The first person to find it will win Halliday’s fortune, his company, and the OASIS. All he leaves the world with is a book full of his musings, and a cryptic poem:
Three hidden keys open three secret gates
Wherein the errant will be tested for worthy traits
And those with the skill to survive these straits
Will reach The End where the prize awaits.
The creators obviously took some liberties, and these liberties sometimes created some complications that didn’t need to be there, and some simplifications that were equally uncalled for. The process of the contest in the story was almost completely changed except for the basic premise, as were many story points. However, despite these alterations, there is still some of the original spirit shining through the unfaithful deviations. However, there are still some parts I don’t like that weren’t focused on in the movie. Namely, what is seen of the world outside the OASIS feels too clean to me, it seems like the poverty and disaster isn’t really shown, we’re just told that things are bad and expected to believe it. However, to be fair, the book wasn’t completely guiltless of this itself.
However, as a movie, it’s good. It’s not fantastic, it still has some flaws. The pacing feels a bit rushed, however this compares not with the missed opportunities in the setting. The OASIS has a brief camera tour during the opening narration that was utterly awe inspiring and made me excited for the new ways the creators could explore the setting… and they didn’t do that as much as I think they could’ve or should’ve. However, the images are gorgeous, the performances are memorable, the action is thrilling, and the music is great.
In short, don’t go into this movie expecting the same thing as the book, but if you’re looking to have an entertaining afternoon, I say you go to the theater and check this movie out.