Warning: Spoilers ahead (but you likely won‘t watch this movie anyway)
After seeing the first trailer for Ready Player One, I was incredibly excited, as any normal person would be after reading Ernest Cline’s novel of the same title. When someone makes a movie based on a popular book, readers tend to forget about the countless books that have ultimately been butchered by their movie-makers. I became one of those blind fans. But the film is by Steven Spielberg, so it should be okay, right?
Since I’m such a sucker for video games, cartoons, anime and the like, I was bound to fall in love with the movie. There were so many references and characters appearing from games like Halo, Over-watch and more from shows like Danganronpa, Gundam and The Breakfast Club to name a few.
The story is based off of a dystopian world in the year 2045 where people use the OASIS, a virtual reality world, to escape the the dread of the real world. The creator of the game, James Halliday, passes away and leaves his entire fortune as an ‘easter egg’ in a large quest meant to find someone worthy of obtaining it all.
Wade Watts (Parzival) is the protagonist and is one of many who seek the egg. During his quest he finds four main friends, Samantha (Art3mis), Helen (Aech), Daito and Shoto — the High-5. Wade finds the first key, and becomes a hero later on by keeping the Innovative Online Industries
(IOI), an enormous company, from obtaining the power of the OASIS. All this is followed by sarcastic jokes and 80s video game and show references. Sure these are typically “mainstream” games and shows, but many of those used in the movie are classics which allow the flick to grab the attention of different age groups.
But as great as the animation and obvious game advertisements are, there are still some big disappointments to this movie compared to the original novel.
There are some major — I mean really major — plot holes in the movie. One is the ‘Extra Life’ coin that Parzival, or Wade Watts, gets when the main antagonist detonates a bomb that eliminates all avatars on a planet.
Nowhere in the movie is there a clear explanation as to why or how he gets the coin. He just discovers it in his pocket when he realizes he is still alive. In contrast to the vagueness of the movie, the book has a clear explanation to Parzival’s possession of the coin.
In the novel, Parzival comes across an arcade right after he gains the second gate key. The game he plays in the book is PacMan, and he gets the coin by beating the game altogether.
Aside from the coin, there are significant details relating to the characters from the novel that were pushed aside in the making of the movie.
It should also be mentioned that Daito and Shoto, the supposed brothers in the movie, never actually met in real life. They were both enrolled in a support group for hikikomori in Japan, which was for OASIS addicts who’d disengaged from the real world.
Character appearances were also compromised in the movie, which is a common issue among films made by big film companies since they tend to hire actors and actresses who have ‘pleasing’ appearances and figures.
Wade struggled with his weight which made school in the real world a miserable place for him. Later in the story when he becomes wealthier from his discovery of the keys, he enables a voluntary OASIS fitness lock, so he wouldn’t be able to visit OASIS unless he followed a mandatory daily exercise. It wasn’t just Wade who
struggled with his weight either. Samantha (Art3mis) and Helen (Aech) were over- weight too.
As nice as it was to see a real boy-ish character like Helen in the movie, the avoidance of social issues like how awkwardly obese children are treated by others and how isolated teens exist today was disappointing.
With all these faults out of the way — though there are several more — the movie was a success and is still an amazing movie that took extensive time to film and animate. That is, at least, without the book in mind.
There is still so much left out of the movie, so many social issues, significant moments and details about characters. I get it though, since movies have a general time limit that they have to follow before their audience gets tired, and this movie was already a good two hours and 19 minutes.
In the end Steven Spielberg made a great movie, but like all other live-action films for books, he still took away so many things that made the novels great. He focused on a creator’s crush on another man’s wife and took away most of the focus on the other members of the High- 5, putting it all on the protagonist and his love interest.