It is no secret that I am a fan of the incredible novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. In fact, you could call me a super fan. Not only did I give the book a perfect score in my review two years ago, but it has also made its place to my list of all-time favourite books for two consecutive years. I have also done my job as a book blogger and managed to convince at least a few people to read the book including my partner, my brother, and my… acquaintance, Red Onion. Even further, you can find a podcast dedicated to my love of the hero’s tale and books that I’ve read specifically because they may slightly resemble the favourite story.
So, yeah, a bit of a super-fan, a bit of an obsession.
When news dropped that a Ready Player One movie would be developed, I had a few thoughts. First, “obviously, they need to make this movie” a classic hero’s journey with so many retro references it would make 9Gag blush, yeah. Second, “why the hell would they make a movie out of this brilliant book?” I think that is a stage all of us booknerds go through when they adopt our favourite stories into film. Something about a good book makes you want to keep it all for yourself. Either way, I knew I couldn’t miss this one-of-a-kind film.
Ready Player One was on my list of must watch films this year. Like if I am going to watch anything in 2018 it had to be this, and Avengers: Infinity War. So, I booked tickets ahead and even managed to get a babysitter, so Jenn could come with me because I made her love this story as much as I do.
So, how did it hold up to my higher than average expectations?
With any adaptation, we know going in that there are going to be changes. I prepared myself as much as I could. I knew that this was not going to be an exact replica of the story that I adore. However, if the adaptation was going to be in any one’s hands, the directorial experience of Steven Spielberg was a safe bet. Basically, I kept telling myself I was about to watch an interpretation by the same guy that made Jurassic Park, E.T., and Close Encounters, and suddenly I wasn’t so concerned.
I will start by saying, they did a decent job of adapting a simple story into a blockbuster hit. The story is there, the characters are there, and the moral is there. They also managed to cram as many references as you could handle into the movie. Unfortunately, that is about all that they accomplished.
Before the film, Jenn and I discussed our favourite scenes from the book. For me, two essential scenes could not be missed. Anyone who has read the book knows these two parts stand out as significant events: the first being finding the first key, the second being Parzival’s arrival at the final battle. Somehow, Spielberg decided to miss out on the opportunity to make these memorable moments into cinematic gold. And, that was just the beginning of critical missing elements.
Though there was an abundant amount of pop culture references involved in the movie, for some reason everything was updated from the book. Ernest Cline’s novel included a lot, a lot, a lot, of obscure retro references from the 70’s and 80’s with a bit of 90’s sprinkled in there. The movie put away with many of those and went for more modern references like Harley Quinn, Minecraft, and other things from today’s culture. While that may excite younger audiences, they missed one of the most charming elements of the novel; retro is in, don’t they know that?
The most significant change from book to movie was adding to Artemis’s character. Don’t get me wrong I love Arty, but she was not this big of a player in the book and taking away her mystery made her a lacklustre character. Although, the best part of the entire film for me was how well they handled Halliday. I loved the masterminds introverted awkwardness, and he was done perfectly as I imagined. The rest of the cast was done in an acceptable manner.
Acceptable seems to be the primary feelings I had to the entire movie. Jenn, and others I know who love the book, well, they hate it. The film was not the fantastic story that I love. It was nothing but a morsel of Ernest Cline’s bound to be classic. However, as a movie, it’s alright, it’s watchable. It does feel like a major missed opportunity to make something never seen before, something truly magical, and it was diluted down for a mass audience that probably would prefer the original anyway.