From filmmaker Steven Spielberg comes the action adventure “Ready Player One,” based on Ernest Cline’s bestseller of the same name, which has become a worldwide phenomenon. In the year 2045, the real world is a harsh place. The only time Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) truly feels alive is when he escapes to the OASIS, an immersive virtual universe where most of humanity spends their days. In the OASIS, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone—the only limits are your own imagination. The OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance), who left his immense fortune and total control of the Oasis to the winner of a three-part contest he designed to find a worthy heir. When Wade conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends—called the High Five—are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS.
What We Thought:
I read Ready Player One a few years back and the movie adaptation is quite different. Sure every movie takes liberties with source material, but there is a lot missing from the movie that I liked in the book. The book is super long and very detailed and I usually hate when one book is turned into multiple movies, but I feel like the book should have been split into at least two films. There is just too much information in the book to be one movie and the one movie struggles because of it.
My biggest complaint about the movie is that the Wade character is under developed. Most of the movie you follow Wade’s avatar Parzival and not the real life Wade. You learn his parents are dead and he lives with his aunt in Columbus, Ohio, but you don’t get enough about Wade to care about him. In the book you learn about how infatuated with pop culture and James Halliday Wade really is. His knowledge of pop culture and Halliday is what helps get through the puzzles. There just isn’t enough of that in the movie.
Those puzzles and games are also quite different in the adaptation. Each game to earn a key had multiple levels to it in the book. You had to solve one thing to get to another and so on in order to get the key. The movie doesn’t show that. One of my favorite parts of the book, the Monty Python quotes section, isn’t in the movie. There is a lot not in the movie.
So separating the movie from the book, I also think the movie has other flaws. It lacks the heart of most Steven Spielberg films. Unlike Hook and E.T., this film doesn’t draw you into the characters and doesn’t give you a reason to care about them. The antagonist of the film is a corporation trying to find the 3 keys and take over the OASIS and you would think a Big Brother/Amazon type evil would be relatable in today’s world, but I just didn’t care. I guess I was just too disappointed in all of it.
Ready Player One seemed to want to shoehorn in as many Easter eggs and pop culture references as possible just so people could point and talk about those things. In the book, Parzival and his friends know and learn pop culture to solve puzzles and games. The movie uses them as more of a nostalgic feel (hey look, an 80s song!) without actually making them part of the plot. The movie is full of CGI special effects and looks more like a Final Fantasy straight-to-DVD flick than a Spielberg classic. Like other recent wannabe blockbusters Tomb Raider and Pacific Rim Uprising, Ready Player One is easily forgettable in the long run.