Ernest Cline’s fanboy homage to 80s pop-culture, Ready Player One, is getting its cinematic adaption. We at THG are huge fans of the book and couldn’t wait to see some of the amazing descriptions played out in GCI. Set in a virtual world called The Oasis where literally anything is possible, the book makes extensive use of the readers’ imagination to render everything that is going on. Can Steven Spielberg do the same for the silver screen?
The answer is actually, yes!
Do You Need to Read the Ready Player One Book First?
We had already read the Ready Player One book when we first heard that an adaption was in the works but it’s not important that you know the source material. It is a fairly simple story of good vs evil, and the movie takes you through everything you need to know. While the main plot points remain the same, much of the story is changed so any purist will not be happy.
Maybe it’s better if the book isn’t read before watching the film.
What is important is you’re knowledge of popular culture from the 80s and 90s and weirdly specifically Kubrick’s film adaption of The Shining.
What’s Good About Ready Player One?
The book (and its author) is famous for the number of references to other subculture related entertainment. Film, comics, technology, stories, TV shows. The main character Parzival even drives the car from Back to the Future II. You know, the one that can hover. After seeing the initial trailers with contemporary references like Overwatch and Halo we were slightly worried that the old obscure references would be thrown out to appease a modern audience. We were delighted when these modern additions were only background aspects as the niche callbacks to Thundercats, Battle Toads, Mortal Combat, and basically everything possible from the 80s and 90s you could think of remain at the core. Getting the rights to use everything in the movie must have undoubtedly cost more than the movie itself.
While the story has changed, what has remained are the incredible out of this world moments that make the Oasis unbelievable, and isn’t that really what we want to see in an adaption? The zero gravity nightclub battle. The battle for an entire planet. The battle between Mecha-Godzilla and Gundam. Okay, mainly just the battles but their size and audacity is something not seen before. There was an explosion so loud that it literally made the cinema screen vibrate when we saw it. It’s that over the top insanity for which we have to thank Speilberg. Think the opening from Saving Private Ryan but with every one of our favourite cartoon characters involved.
Speilberg stalwart cinematographer Janusz Kaminski also makes everything look beautiful as usual. Continuing his record of being involved with every Speilberg film since impressing the director with his remarkable skills in the Vanilla Ice movie back in the 90s. The artistic world of the real and virtual are completely brought to life and you can very much believe that these two opposite worlds exist at the same time.
Still Some Bugs to Troubleshoot
The actors do well to tell the story, but there is always a feeling of being excluded unless you know every aspect of pop-culture like Ernest Cline or are a world class gamer like the characters on screen. Special appreciation goes to Lena Waithe as Aech making him one of the more entertaining and three-dimensional characters.
It should also be noted that while the visuals are spectacular, the constant onslaught of incredible sights does take away some of the more delicate points and messages of the original story.
If you want to see some unbelievable acts happen in a virtual world, you’ll enjoy this movie. If you love pop-culture from the past, you’ll get even more out of it. If you are looking for depth of narrative and diverse characters, look elsewhere.
It is a fine adaption, but it is definitely still just a pop-culture obsessed gamer’s dream.