If a few years ago somebody would tell me that there will be a DeLorean racing with Kaneda’s bike from Akira in a movie about a video game directed by Steven Spielberg I would probably think he’s a little bit crazy. But I would also think to myself that that’s exactly what I want to see on the big screen! And here we are in 2018 and that’s exactly what Ready Player One is all about! And all of that happened thanks to one video game nerd from Ohio, Ernest Cline! But is it also a dream come true for anybody else? Let’s find out!
A strange book that caught my eye
About two years ago I was standing in a bookstore which sells cheap older books and I was looking for some old sci-fi paperbacks (one of my favorite things to do). And among all the bad sci-fi and other books that nobody reads, I saw a strange title written with a pixelated 8bit font together with Space Invaders artwork on the cover. I opened the book and for a few days after that, I literally couldn’t think of anything else till I got to the last page.
The book Ready Player One is a pure nerdgasm combined with a mysterious easter egg hunt and every page is an homage to something I love. You can almost use it just as a guide for studying the pop culture in general. The vast number of pop culture references is what sets the book apart but also what drives the most debates about it being a great story or just a compilation of the things that Ernest Cline likes. I totally understand this criticism, but frankly, I don’t care about it.
Fanboys or Haters?
Lately, I have seen more and more criticism about everything. For example when a new Star Wars movie comes out everybody is complaining about something. Most people who call themselves fans are spending hours complaining about every tiny detail and then they go to see the movie three times so they can find more things that are wrong with it. Come on people, Hollywood blockbusters are just supposed to be fun.
I have to admit that I also hate some of the new movies. The biggest disappointment for me was Prometheus where I literally thought about leaving the cinema in the middle of the film. But that’s not just because I love first two Alien movies so much, but also because the movie is one of the cases where just nothing makes sense at all. Many people also think that Pacific Rim doesn’t make sense at all and I agree but still, this movie is a guilty pleasure for me. So maybe it’s not about how bad the movie in question is, but just if you personally enjoy it or not.
A good adaptation is always different than the book
Steven Spielberg like any other director has his ups (most of his films) and downs (the Crystal Skull for example) but he’s still the best man for this job I can imagine. He took the book that I love and did exactly what a great director should do – make his own vision out of it. Every good movie based on a book should do this. We should see the story through the eyes of the director. I’m sure that if somebody like Spielberg would make an exact adaptation of a book word by word then everybody would complain for hours. And if he presents us his own streamlined interpretation of it many people still complain. That’s what I just don’t understand at all.
The movie is very different from the storyline from the book but I love them both. The book goes deep and the film is just a crazy nonstop rollercoaster ride. But both are great. Take the Shining which is heavily referenced in the movie itself. It’s such a great movie just because Kubrick made it according to his own vision. If he would just adapt King’s novel word by word then maybe King himself would not hate it, but would it still become such a cult classic?
A Movie or a Gameplay?
I also love video games but I missed the 8bit era. Probably the first game I ever saw on an old flickering CRT monitor was Wolfenstein 3D. Most of video games adaptations to film ended up mediocre at best. But this movie together with the book brings back all the great memories and feelings I had when playing my favorite games. Or even more – Ready Player One is like watching (or reading about) a gameplay of the best game I can imagine.
Ernest Cline said in one interview that he planned it to be a trilogy right from the start so I hope the other two books will be at least as good as this one is. I also read Armada and despite it being a very similar story (or just a rip-off of The Last Starfighter mixed together with Ender’s Game) the charm is gone for me. But if Cline never wrote another line of text in his life and just drove around in his DeLorean he would still be immortalized for me by this amazing piece of pure fanboy joy he had put together. In the world where fanboys turn to haters, this book and movie are like a miracle for me because they are the biggest fan service I have ever seen. And I think that they have to put a smile on the face of any keen gamer or 80’s kid out there. They certainly put the smile on my face. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. Believe me, you won’t regret it!
What are your thoughts on the movie and the book? Let me know in the comments!
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Wow, this is exactly what I think about the book and the movie, thanks for this great article.
I read the book first, found it like you in a bookstore by accident, and the title shows the stacks where Wade climbs the letter up or down and Ready Player One in big type letters. I love it from the first page and I enjoyed the book very very much, I read it in english whereby I am german. When Wade said at the end of chapter 0000 „That kid was me.” – goosebumps!!! I saw the movie in 3D on the first day and I was very confused – That’s not my Ready Player One! But I waited for the BluRay and want to give the movie a new chance 🙂 I bought at the first day the 3D version „and“ the great VHS package with the 2D BluRay. Now I love the movie too. My wife and I are reading the book together at the time.