Monday, October 1, 2018

Ready Player One


Both book and movie are enjoyable and related, but target a different audience.

The movie is an enjoyable entertainment romp, the book might be an acquired taste for some.


Let's get one thing clear: this movie is not about VR. VR is just a tool to drive the story home, an excuse to linger in the past, allow the impossible, tickle our funny bone and deliver fan service (not the skimpy dressed kind) without having to explain too much.

(And don't immediately go out and buy your PlayStation VR kit after watching the movie, VR isn't that good yet.)

The book

(Re-reading this I realize I have made it sound like I'm a literary critic pissing on someone's lifework. It's actually quite a fun read, but it has its shortcomings.)

Ready Player One is a light take an an mid-apocalyptic world (for the lack of a better word) where pretty much wars, famine and an energy crisis has ended the world we know. It fires off endless popular culture references which are easily recognizable by the 40's to 60's crowd. (Being born in "65 myself means I'm smack in the middle of the target audience.) Saturday morning cartoons (not my thing), Back to the Future references, the DeLorean itself, names of well known SciFi authors, on and on, interlaced with trivia about video games and music.

Which is fun, but I'm not entirely sure that would make it a classic. It also tries in no way to explain why the eighties were that great. (I haven't got a clue either 😅) Of course, movie and book don't only include eighties, there's more recent geek stuff like Firefly as well.

Basic story: a young man surviving in a very bad and evil world, finds the love of his life and preserves the free west, by winning a video game. (Anybody remember Star Fighter?) A dream for middle aged geeks still living in their parents' basement. Except for the basement part I'm one of them.

So, should you read the book? Well, it is entertaining, sometimes the trivia are fun, and actually this is one book that is great to read it before watching the movie based on it. Many of the clues and plotlines differ enough allowing you to hunt for all those easter-eggs when watching the movie. If you like (or can stand) the references and can stand (or like) the somewhat self-important 'voice' of Wade Watts then it's fine.


The Audible audio book is unabridged and the voice actor is fine.

The movie

Steven Spielberg, he who shaped the 80's (at least movie wise) would obviously be the first person to pick up this book and try to turn it into a movie. And he did, and not too bad either.

The movie is chock-full of easter-eggs. I recognized a 30 or so myself, but the latest number on the Internet showed the counter has passed 200. I think I will re-watch the movie and see how many I recognize on a second run.

The movie is 'lighter' than the book. When shooting and cutting the movie the producers clearly made sure it would be entertaining to all ages, attracting your kids and older (grand) parents. The world in this movie isn't as obvious a bad place (though it is), motivations are a bit thin, and characters are shouting and explaining a little too much.

There are three big differences between the movie and the book. The movie is more a 'feel good' story, the plot of the movie is much shorter and simpler than the book and, what I found quite interesting, the 'send off' in the final scene is very different.

Still, the CGI is fun, the story is simple, the fun factor is high, and I love those easter-eggs. So will most people.

Go watch it if you need some pop-corn suitable entertainment, and are of suitable age.

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