In the beginning of 2017, I was at the Alamo Drafthouse having a conversation at the bar upstairs about what I usually talk about after you've known me for 5 minutes...VR and the future. The guy I was talking to says, "You have to read, Ready Player One."
So I downloaded the book on Audible and had it read to me by Wil Wheaton and I loved it so much, I've listened twice. Last night, I returned to the same Alamo to catch the 7:15 show. I went solo and ordered a drink and some food while I watched the opening mini-docs of Spielberg and Ernest Cline.
I read a few other reviews telling readers why this movie is controversial (gimme a break) and I sat down with the intention of viewing this movie as a fan and as a VR enthusiast.
My overall impression is that the movie is just okay. I woke up this morning thinking about my morning to-do list and nearly forgot about the movie. It was momentary but I guess that sums it up. It's ultimately nice eye candy but a little forgettable.
The audio book is just short of 16 hours. It takes 16 hours to tell the story as Earnest Cline tells it. The movie tries to tell you that story in about an 1/8 of the time so of course a lot gets thrown out so what you get is the cliff notes with pretty pictures. The CG is great but everything involving real actors seems rushed and unimportant to the producers.
The timeline of the book feels like it could take place over the course of a year. It's months of research and inner monologue before Wade finds the first key. However in the movie, you'd be forgiven if you thought the entire timeline took place over a 3 day weekend. Once it moves, it escalates fast it's over. The pace moves faster than the character development (which is null in the movie) which makes the cast seem desperate and shallow at the same time.
The movie avoids dealing with any real emotions or character development which is a shame because it wouldn't have taken much to make us care about these people.
For one, Wade (the protagonist) is no longer an overweight anti-social teen who uses VR because he thinks the world is full of shit. He is now a slim and fit and his social anxiety is stated rather than shown and so much of this movie is like that. Instead of showing characters who care about each other, Spielberg who is a genius at creating movies with personality, opted to replace chemistry with CG high fives (literally).
In the book, the IOI (the Sixers) are a real threat. They're like AT&T vying to take over the Oasis. When the going gets tough people are killed. One of the main characters is even pulled out his rig and thrown off his balcony. The press referred to it as another gamer suicide.
In the movie, again, we are 'told' that IOI 'sucks' and they retain one scene to add a bit of real world drama but it's again so wack and dumbed down that when Wade is confronting the person who killed his friend (not in the movie) and his family (what's left of it), he simply raises his voice and says, 'You killed my mom's sister!'
Jesus....couldn't even call her your aunt? Really? It's just another example of pussy footing around real human emotions.
The last scenes take place in the real world where there is no CG and it's just a little plain. It's like they hired 25 extras and promised them lunch. That's pretty much the effort they put into their real world scenes.
So what about the tech?
Again, the CG looked good but as far as visualizing the tech in 2045, the producers decided that they should just buy a shit ton of ski goggles from Ebay and overlay a few HUD elements. Every human using VR in the real world looked like they had on ski goggles and a black belt with black gloves. Literally everything looked home made.
Ready Player One, the movie version is ultimately forgettable because it's hard to bond with these versions of the characters.
Spielberg who is hands-down brilliant and brilliant at getting young people to shine in front of the camera seems to relied too much on CG and removed the only parts of the book which made these kids likable.
Just my thought s