Ready Player One


Be thee warned, herein lies light spoilers.

If we were to hop into a flux-capacitor equipped DeLorean DMC-12 and travel back in time to visit my bedroom as a kid, I resembled James Halliday from the book in many ways.  In the back bedroom of a trailer in Indiana, my C64 sits on a rickety table supported by phonebook-thick Visual Basic books connected through atrocious wiring and a 9600 baud modem to the outside world.   

ATN0S37=9 <RETURN> ATDT1812-294-xxxx<RETURN>.   I could turn off error correction and ask for 9600 baud but it would usually negotiate down to 2400 baud instead.

A dot matrix printer sits on the nearby night stand. VHS copies, recorded from broadcast of Star Wars, Weird Science and real VHS without cover of Indiana Jones, Temple of Doom sit scattered around the room. Apparently I kept the Indy rental too long and the late-fees were such that they told us to just "keep it."   My folks were pissed and I recall sweeping and cleaning up in Dad's shop one summer to pay for it.

I had a nice stash of copied games from my uncle.  The parents weren't big on wasting money on computer games, as they saw it, so I spent a fair amount of time coding Zork-like text adventures on that old C64.

So, being the nerd that I am, when I read Ready Player One I enjoyed it and found a kindred spirit in both Wade and Halliday.  When I heard that Spielberg would helm the movie adaptation, I was pretty pumped about the movie.

So, how was it?   Honestly, I left mostly disappointed with the movie version of Ready Player One as compared to the book story.    Don't get me wrong, Cline's book has some cringeworthy lines of prose that might be meta towards the tweenage mindset of the content or might just be bad writing.  But, the universe is interesting and the story has a ton of potential.

My biggest let down on the movie version of the story is that the Tomb of Horrors, Joust match isn't included in any of the challenges.   Being an arcade enthusiast, I thought this was some of the most descriptive writing in the book and I'd have liked to see it come to life on screen.   I can see, how that seen might not have resonated with general audiences.   It is hard to smash-cut / montage clips of people playing video games and continue to be interesting.   

Joust and Acererak being missing isn't the part that I thought was the biggest missed opportunity of the Tomb of Horrors remix, though.  The book places the beginning of the adventure in the school-planet, accessible to all students no matter how underprivileged.  I thought this coupled with Spielberg director-juice might have given Ready Player One the recipe to be a kid-adventure story for a new generation: A Goonies for Gamers.

But, that isn't what we got.  Bummer!

The movie missed plenty of other opportunities including potential for an Epic Soundtrack. Guardians of the Galaxy-level soundtrack integration didn't happen, either.

Some aspects of the movie were better than the book.  Movie Halliday leans away from his book-asshole Steve Jobs tendencies and more into his Asperger's situation.   The result is a much more interesting, likable and maybe pitiable Halliday and delivered through a great performance.

Movie Art3mis is considerably more charming that the often selfish-seeming, prickly femchismo Art3mis from the book.     

Book Ogg is far more interesting and is used in better ways than the movie.

The movie version of Aunt Alice is a step up and adds some depth to the loss in that situation.  Misses Gilmore still gets the firey shaft and doesn’t even get a pleasant exchange with Wade for her troubles.

The visuals are great, especially the Stacks and the intro to the OASIS. Though the movie stacks seem to be a bit more friendly.  Like a nice rv park for gamers.   I like the use of drones in the movie but the IOI hendhwoman is kind of pointless and the IOI infiltration plot is heavily remixed clumsily.

All said I think Ready Player One is a fun spring / early summer flick. It isn’t the epic Goonies-for-gamers story that it could have been but the last scene with Halliday did have some heart. 

I give it 3 out of 5 quarters.