Ready Player One

This is going to be a long one, so get ready…

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So, you’ve probably seen a lot of posts about Ready Player One. I didn’t read a whole lot of them because I wanted to draw my own conclusions. I read the book (finished it on Friday) and then saw the movie on Saturday. Now that I’ve had a whole 24 hours to process, there are some . . . things.

The movie, on it’s own, was fun and nostalgic for those of you that grew up in the 80’s and remember all the random crap that you were bombarded with on any given day (hello acid washed jeans, I’m looking in your direction). However, I’m going to say this knowing that this is true 99.9% of the time, the book was better. I know. I know. That’s to be expected. But there are some fundamental issues we need to talk about.

  1. This book was made to be visualized. The pop culture references, music, video games, and movies included in this are all encompassing but you only get a portion. I’m a visual learner so the music references were lost on me, but if I’d heard them, I’d know instantly what was being talked about. Ross, remembers music so some of the film references were lost on him. You see where I’m going with this. Put the entire package together in a visual/auditory medium (aka film or television) and you have the perfect vehicle.

There’s a problem with that though. Two hours isn’t long enough to capture some of the larger themes in the book. Or, really the overall structure which is important but we’ll get to that later.

Themes:

There’s a question, that they really only touched on at the end in the movie of “humanity”. Over the course of the book, you see the slow marginalization of the real world in Wade Watts as he descends into the Oasis for longer and longer periods of time until he’s basically living his whole life in there. He talks about using a solution to remove all his hair (EVERYWHERE) so that his haptic suit will better conform to his body and pick up his movements. These are things you don’t really get from the movie.

There’s also the issue of vulnerability. The Oasis allows people to present themselves in any fashion they wish, any gender, any race, and species. So, there’s always this question of who you’re really talking to and what they look like. There’s safety in the Avatar. The stakes are high for a real life reveal. You could be talking to someone online for years in the avatar of Christie Brinkley and really be an 80 year old Chinese guy from Beijing. There are high stakes in the reveal of acceptance and community. That is lost in the film since the reveal happens much too early and no real uncertainty on anyone’s part.

Structure:

The movie included the competition which was key (pun intended). However, the book is told, very much, like a video game. There are level ups, there are weird diversionary levels that you don’t think mean anything but turn our saving your ass in the long run. There are also, failures. You remember Super Mario Bros. 3 (that’s where my references end, btw, cause that’s about the time I stopped playing video games – don’t judge) on World 8 where you could only see the space around the dot that encompassed you, that took me days to beat without skipping it. Not necessarily where Wade Watts is playing an actual video game but his processes, he does this thing again and again until he figures it out or finds the whistle to go around it. It’s nuanced, but important.

There were no mini-bosses, no real challenges to get the keys. Instead of the competition being the center of the story, defeating IOI became the focus. Which yes, you have the ultimate boss in Nolan Sorento but there are tasks and challenges to defeat before ever reaching the final castle and saving Princess Peach. #SuperMarioBros.3 #You’reWelcome #PrincessPeachForever

Ross’s Problem:

The bit with The Shining. OMG! I’m not sure why – actually I do – this got under his skin but IT DID. Some of the games in Ready Player One are actual movies that the avatar are inserted in and have to recite dialogue and function as the character in the scene. Spielberg didn’t quite do that. What he did was take elements of a movie and use them as one of the castle levels for a key.

Now, The Shining did come out in 1980 – that is true – versus the films actually used in the film (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off {1986} and Monty Python’s Holy Grail {1975}), however, there is something sooooo 70’s about it. #ShelleyDuvall. Also, it seems out of place. The pop culture, the movies, everything in it was funny and light. The Shining….that’s way to dark and really sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of the movie. It’s…weird.

Again, I don’t want to harp on this too much. I think the movie, as a stand alone, was fun and if I went in there without fore knowledge of the book, I would think differently. But as Ross says, this book was written for me and they fucked it up. Actually, I’m throwing “fucked it up” in there. His words were much nicer but I know that’s what he meant. So, there’s that.

I think this would have made a really good Nexflix limit series. You just can’t do it justice in two hours. Shout out to Columbus Ohio though. #Cbus

 

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