Hey everyone, it’s Jason from Jack-FM with another movie review! Last night I visited my favorite theater here in town, the Seattle Cinerama for Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s READY PLAYER ONE, and I’m here with a spoiler free look at the flick!
Now, full disclosure, I’ve read the book easily 30 times. It’s one of the few books that I could finish quickly, then immediately start back over from the beginning. I love the idea behind the book, I love the adventure of it, I want to live in a world where there’s an entire planet dedicated to D&D adventures, another that’s full of ancient arcade games, etc. That said, the book suffers from a few major problems, notably “pop-culture-itis,” a bit of gatekeeping, and some creepy “nice-guy” antics.
Thankfully, the new screenplay helps mitigate a lot of those problems pretty significantly, and it makes the movie better for it.
The story centers on “The Hunt for Halliday’s Egg.” In the year 2045, everyone lives & works inside a virtual reality construct called “The Oasis,” an unlimited world created by James Halliday, where virtually anything is possible. Upon his death, a contest was revealed – Find the “Easter Egg” hidden in the game by finding the 3 keys & completing the corresponding challenges. Once you have all 3 keys, you can unlock the secrets of the Oasis, take ownership & full control of the world itself.
Egg Hunters, or “gunters” for short, have been trying to complete the quest for years without success, but are also racing against IOI, the EVIL CORPORATION trying to win the contest to take ownership & further monetize The Oasis.
Enter our hero Parzival, the first person to find the first key & complete the first challenge… Hijinks ensue as he, his best friend Aech, their friends Daito & Shoto, and his love interest & fellow Gunter Art3mis continue searching for the rest of the clues, keys, and challenges to complete the quest.
One of the major criticisms levied against the movie before it came out was that it’s going to be chock full of “remember THIS?” and “remember THAT?!” The book is certainly guilty of this in a huge way, but Spielberg & company did a really excellent job of giving nods to pop culture icons from both the 80’s and “today” without feeling like it was merely pandering to the audience.
In the BOOK, the challenges are skill & knowledge based. Halliday wanted the winner to love all of the things HE did as a kid, and to be just as good at games as HE was. The MOVIE changes that up in a major way, which helps to both streamline the story and make the overall themes of teamwork & “not getting lost inside The Oasis” much more prevalent.
At its heart, Ready Player One is an adventure story, and that’s where Steven Spielberg really shines. The movie is well paced with the FUN you expect from a Spielberg movie. The visual structure of the film is quite striking too, with the stark differences between the REAL world, and the beautifully rendered CGI Oasis.
In the end, I am really happy with how the movie sets itself apart from the book. It’s a team adventure, and it’s a really fun ride. I’m excited to go see it a few more times just to catch all the things that I’m sure I missed. And let’s face it, a 2nd tier Spielberg movie is better than most directors’ BEST work, so you know it’s going to be entertaining.
If you liked the book, I am hopeful that you’ll like the movie. If you HATED the book, I’m hopeful that you’ll be happy with the changes that they’ve made. Either way, I say give it a try. It’s beautiful on the big screen, and you’ll be missing out if you just wait to watch it at home on Netflix.