I might do a review of the Ready Player One novel sometime in the future, but this is a quick review for the movie directed by Steven Spielberg which came out today.

I’ve already read several articles and blog posts that claim the movie was disappointing and overly saturated with pop culture references (which is the point) and I feel like I want to be the optimist for this movie.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed Ready Player One. It was fast paced and exciting from beginning to end with no annoying lull in the plotline which can be common in action movies.

The story was altered from it’s novelization but this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The book is long and a lot of intricate details occur which lengthens out the competition within the story. A movie version of the book that changed nothing would be an impossibly long one. Zak Penn and Ernest Cline (the book’s writer) did a great job at preparing the script to incorporate the important elements and the spirit of the book into the film. I trust this new movie-storyline not just because it was good but also because the book’s author co-wrote the script. He obviously approves of this book-to-movie adaptation since he helped adapt it!

Many of the elements were adapted so well it is amazing. The Stacks where Wade lives and the massiveness of the OASIS were so well done (God bless good CGI).  CGI-heavy movies can be hard to swallow if done poorly, but I didn’t have any issues with this movie. The distinction between reality and OASIS made the CGI of the OASIS feel fluid and natural. We aren’t supposed to believe that these crazy things like car racing in NYC or monsters in The Shining are real – they’re in a video game.

So even if the CGI wasn’t the best quality it would have still felt natural because we KNOW we are watching a “fake” world. I feel like I’m going in circles defending the special effects at this point so I’ll just say that I liked the balance of real-world scenes to OASIS scenes and they did a good job.

For those who felt bombarded with pop-culture references, I don’t think they’ve read the book or have any sense of this world in which Wade lives. It’s a world in which one man’s love for pop culture and nerd culture has seeped into his creation of one of the most important computer programs/worlds that this futuristic society relies on. The references certainly have much more significance in the book but incorporating them into the movie not only helped make the movie fun but also set the tone of the world in which the movie takes place.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ready Player One. It did not bother me that the story was different from the book or that the pop culture references seemed ‘cheesy’ or out of place. The heart of the book was translated beautifully into movie form and it kept the same foundational goal: Wade and his group of OASIS friends banding together to save the world from corporate dictatorship.

– Sam

Cross-posted here under the title, ‘Ready Player One is Actually Really Good.’