Ready Player One (2018)
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance, Philip Zhao, Win Morisaki
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Zak Penn, Ernest Cline
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 2 hr 20 min.
My 2 Cents:
On this trip to the movies I was joined by my friend, John. We had both read and loved Ernest Cline’s book, Ready player One, and were looking forward to seeing how Spielberg and company adapted it into a film.
Okay, it’s not as good as the book. It probably wasn’t ever going to be, but it’s also not a complete waste of time either. It was certainly very entertaining to watch. Ready Player One the movie is a fun action adventure that’ll keep Easter egg hunting pop culture geeks busy for months. It’s loaded with TV, music, movie, and video game references!
A few of of the book’s darker edges are cut out, and the games, integral to the plot, are replaced by something more film friendly. Most of the breaks from the original book made sense to me, but they also came at a cost (more on that later). As adaptations go, however, considering this was co-written by Ernest Cline and directed by Steven Spielberg, I’m thinking this was perhaps the best translation of the source material we were going to get.
Where the book goes into a lot of detail during the world building first act, the movie gives us the abbreviated version. What characters mean to each other, and how they feel about their virtual world (The Oasis) is skimmed over. The economics of the Oasis and how it works in the film’s dystopian future, is also mostly ignored.
The cost of all this rushed groundwork, is a lot of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them details. Details you might not recall when they become important later in the film. The adaptation gives the audience very little reason to care about what’s going on. The characters themselves barely stand out from the CGI wizardry around them. More attention to the details for folks that haven’t read the book would have given Ready Player One more connective tissue as the story developed. This could be very confusing for newbies.
Given the rushed character development and world building, the cast do okay with the material they’ve been given. There are no standout characters or performances here. Ready Player One ultimately is more a film about pop culture references, than a love story or simple good vs. evil paradigm. It doesn’t even work as a commentary on our relationship with online worlds. If you love the 80’s (I do) you should enjoy this regardless of whether you had read the book or not. If pop culture references don’t interest you and you haven’t read the source material. I think you’ll struggle to find any value in the movie. Personally, I found the differences with the book fascinating. I also loved that the movie had plenty of its own surprises.