Ready Player One is a fun, fast-paced and family-friendly movie that is a must watch for people this school holidays. While the film is a significant departure from the book, it is a fantastic adaption of the core concepts and it’s almost as if the author and (co-screenwriter) has taken a second chance to improve and refine his story.
Set twenty years into the future, the world is a different place, poverty is rife, but people have an escape, the OASIS, a virtual reality world of huge proportions where anyone can be anything. A few years prior to the story, the creator of OASIS, James Halliday, passed away leaving the ‘keys’ to become sole owner of the game and claiming his fortune to a lucky gamer who follows clues and completes a series of tasks. While many have given up in competing for the prize, our main character, Wade Watts an eighteen-year-old player of OASIS, along with a few friends are some of the players still committed to finding the clues and completing the challenges. Ready Player One pits this small band of teenagers against a computer game based mega-corporation known as IOI who are also seeking to gain control of OASIS.
For reference, I have not read the book ‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline. I have had it recommended to me since something like 2012 (I just never got around to it). From what I have heard the film is a very loose adaptation of the book, where the general plot is the same but things like the tasks our heroes had to complete, and the order of events have changed. A friend of mine (a big fan of the book) said to me that he ‘wasn’t happy with the changes they had made, a lot of parts were cut’, to which I replied, “How long did it take you to read the book versus how long it took you to watch the movie?” It’s the problem you will always face when adapting a much-loved piece of fiction, you may open the story up to more people, but you risk alienating your existing fan-base.
That being said, as someone who had not read the book, I really enjoyed the film. The adaptations that have been made from the source material have made the story more linear and approachable. It doesn’t assume any previous knowledge (although if you were immersed in popular culture between the 80s and now you will enjoy yourself a lot more) and explains everything required to progress the story. The story is very basic but does enough and is supported by ‘Easter Eggs’ a-plenty and beautiful visuals.
While we’re on the topic of visuals, after watching the trailers, I was a little unsure at first that the film was going to be an over-the-top mess of CGI and corny visual gags. Now, there were a few corny visual gags but the CGI was beautiful and blended really well with the real world actors. Tye Sheridan is not a great actor yet but he is starting to get there, and his performance of Wade Watts wasn’t too bad. Also in the cast is up-and-comer Olivia Cooke as Wade Watts’ love interest, Art3mis, the always villainous, Ben Mendelsohn as the head of IOI and Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg as the co-creators of OASIS. The cast were good and reasonably interesting, but no-one stands out in this film.
Steven Spielberg has an uncanny ability to be able to create Oscar-bait in The Post and directing a high-concept blockbuster like Ready Player One in the same time frame. He knows how to ‘give the kids what they want’ and this film is another great entry into the blockbuster genre he helped start almost 45 years ago in Jaws.
Ready Player One is a good quality popcorn flick that is easy to follow and does not require prior knowledge of a universe (unlike many films coming out this year). If you’ve read the book, go in to this film with an open mind. Yes, you will be disappointed if you think the book is the best version but if you are more of a fan of the themes and the concept you may even find this a more streamlined version. This movie is one to check out!
Ready Player One: Above Average