October 30, 2018

Ready Player One (2018)

Tye Sheridan (aka fake Miles Teller), Olivia Cooke, et al


When I read this book, all I could think the entire time was this would make a much better movie than a book. I don't want to be that person, but I think it's sort of impossible to discuss this movie without discussing the book, so...

The book is basically a tome of 80's references blanketed over a straightforward plot. And when I say tome, I mean tome. No movie, TV show, video game, or song was off limits. Having been born partway through the decade, I appreciated, but didn't understand most of the references in the book. I thought a movie would be able to incorporate them in a more meaningful way that didn't require me to pull myself out of the story to wrack my brain to figure out if I'd played a particular game or heard a particular song.

Alas.

The movie is entertaining. It would difficult not to be. It's an action story, after all, and one that exists almost entirely within a virtual reality, so the filmmakers were not bound by the laws of physics or reality so they could really go wild--and did.

But...

The movie bears little actual resemblance to the book. So much of the world building and even many of the game references have been stripped out in favor of flashy action sequences and moving the plot forward. I understand that movies will never be able to dive into the amount of detail that books can, but by simplifying the story to extent that it does, it also takes away what makes this story special and different from any other quest-type story. So what if it's set in virtual reality? It's the details that make the story memorable!

Gone is nearly any reference to Wade's real life. Gone is the layered complexity of each challenge, including making up two entirely new challenges that didn't even exist in the book. Gone is the build up to meeting his virtual friends, who they are, and even how they meet. Gone is the ending, the beginning, and pretty much everything in between. Like the movie adaptation of Ender's Game, this movie is fine on it's own--it's just not the story the book tells.

It's hard to separate my feelings of disappointment watching this movie from what it actually was, so I asked my husband to weigh in with his unbiased opinion. "It was okay," he said. "Nothing special." I can't summarize it any better myself.

Final word: This should have been a lot better than it was. Maybe someone will re-do it properly one day.


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