Ready Player One Movie Review
So we’re here. The movie’s out and people can see the virtual world of OASIS for themselves. It’s been a long time coming and having seen the film, I can say I came away satisfied.
So this movie is from the legendary Steven Spielberg, Director of Indiana Jones, E.T., and Jurassic Park. Knowing that, I came in optimistic. Having seen it, while I can’t say it’s up there, it’s a great film that gives the nerd world it’s triumphant victory. The world of Ready Player One is the ultimate tribute to nerds. The amount of nods to old and new franchises is the one big highlight, only because it shows that the people involved get it, understand us nerd.
So now, let’s get underway and I’ll give my thoughts on the movie.
I won’t go into the plot, since my previous review does that, but it involves the main character, Wade Watts, AKA Parzival, who is hunting for the three keys that will lead him to the Easter egg James Halliday left behind. As far as the movie itself, the plot is roughly the same. And by that I mean the structure is similar. The three keys have hard challenges and the final battle at the end.
The movie itself was great. A lot of the situations were beautifully done and the characters were memorable and had a ton of personality. A few characters got a little more development, such as I-Rok, who has a larger role in the film. Also, it feels real. Even if the characters were CGI, it felt like a legit video game world, kind of like watching a movie by a video game developer. None of it looked fake because it was a video game. It felt like a cinematics team from a video game company.
It felt amazing to see all the situations, such as Art3mis surprising Parzival by being Goro from Mortal Kombat and having a xenomorph baby pop out of its chest. Also, the interactions between Art3mis and Parzival was better in the movie than in the book. The book was more or less them being rivals while in here, the two ended up being good friends, along with Shoto (referred to as Sho in the movie) and Daito being close friends.
I-Rok also got a bigger role and he’s the kind of character that doesn’t care in the slightest, and that’s what makes him better in the movie than in the book. It did seem like he would go to Sorrento’s side, but I wish the book expanded on him a little bit more.
I should mention the one gripe people apparently have. The numerous references to pop culture. It has a bunch of famous figures that it’d take a multi-page word document to list them all, but I will give a few.
- Hello Kitty and Sanrio characters
- Master Chief from Halo
- Ninja Turtles
- Cowboy Bebop
- The DeLorean from Back to the Future.
- Tracer from Overwatch
- Jim Raynor from StarCraft
- King Kong
- Chucky from Child’s Play
- Marvin the Martian from Looney Tunes
I can go on, but it’d take forever and that’s barely scratching the surface. Some people are tired of seeing how many there are, but I wasn’t bothered by them. It just makes it all the more exciting seeing pop culture get so much care and attention.
The book had even more. Ultraman, for example, but I imagine this must have been such a logistical nightmare trying to get the rights to all the films. I’ll get to differences in a bit, but I wasn’t bothered by the references. It’s a film about nerdy pop culture like the book was, and I appreciate it going all out with this.
Differences between the book and the movie
Now, let’s get to how different the book was to the movie. As far as structure, the movie is very similar to the book. The three keys, the dance, Wade’s home in the stacks being blown up. All of it follows the book pretty closely. However, a few significant differences exist between the two. While I won’t go over everything, I will cover the notable differences.
First, the first key in the book is a challenge between Acererak from the Tomb of Horrors module of Dungeons and Dragons, where Parzival faces him in the classic game, Joust. Here, it’s a big race where numerous hazard can kill their avatar in one fell swoop. This was more exciting to watch and it seems a little fairer than the obscure leaps of logic in the book. However, I felt a race was too easy. Yeah, I can’t win with that, but it was exciting and a little creative to watch Parzival figure it out all of the secrets.
The second was a recreation of Stanley Kubrick’s famous film, The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. While not 100% exact, it was reminiscent of the WarGames sequence and the Monty Python sequence in the books. I like the nod to that whole bit, even though the sequence did feel a little out of place. Having such a classic film portrayed in a VR setting is interesting and I hope such an idea comes to fruition someday.
As for characters, I-Rok and Sorrento got larger roles. I-Rok especially since in the book, he only existed so that Parzival and Aech can shut him up. In the movie, he played the mercenary role to Sorrento, having a fun personality where he’s so aloof and trying so hard to be a badass that it comes off as brilliant. He would always run his mouth in such a nonchalant and serious tone that I smiled every time he appeared.
The climax was far more intense than in the book. A car chase and the final battle with Sorrento threatening to use the catalyst was a nice touch. I kind of wished I’d seen more of that in the book, since Sorrento only appears for a few sequences, even though he has a large role in the climactic battle. In the movie, he’s far more prominent, since the book is told in first person.
I kind of like the climax of this movie better than the book, since the end, Sorrento is just arrested while in the movie, they make a big spectacle out of it.
As far as structure, it’s very similar. If you’re familiar with the book, you’ll enjoy the movie without being lost. Seeing things like “Oh, I remember that scene” pops up a lot.
My only gripe is that I felt the pacing was a little off. Like they tried to cram so much into one movie that it feels both rushed and slow at the same time. Granted, they couldn’t have covered everything and having this be a logistical nightmare to get everyone’s permission to have licensed characters portrayed so well, but I felt they could have pushed it a little longer. It’s not War and Peace, but it is a moderately sized book. I feel that’s what’s different between books and film. In film, you only have a limited time to feature the entire story, whereas books and even TV shows, you can go at whatever pace is best.
Aside from that seeing this in live action felt…odd. It’s not like this is a bad movie. If anything I found it enjoyable and heartwarming as a gamer, but something about it seems strange. Maybe the whole “shoving as many references as possible” bit is starting to get to me, so maybe a rewatch might be necessary.
This is the movie nerds deserve and it’s one that’s not just a celebration of gaming, but pop culture. That’s what the book is as well and to see it captured so well on the big screen, I feel, is a win for nerds everywhere. Yeah, the vocal minority will tear this movie to shreds, but I feel those who love gaming, no matter which side you’re on, seeing this movie is a win indeed, especially after the numerous times so-called “game experts” try to portray those things in real life.
Either way, it becomes a film where you decide if it’s for you. I liked it, so that’s my verdict. Next week, I’ll discuss my history with video games and how it made me into who I am.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.