Ready Player One was, without a doubt, one of the movies I was most looking forward to this year. It’s based on a book I’ve torn through twice and found immensely entertaining, and Steven Spielberg seemed like a good fit for all the ’80s references.
Through a series of odd circumstances, I actually ended up seeing the movie twice this past weekend, and I have some thoughts to share. There will be minor spoilers in what I’ll discuss below (even if you’ve read the book).
First, there are LOTS of things that are different from the books. Not just the references and pop culture appearances, but also significant changes in the plot. Yet, I liked the movie for making those changes. I think it the majority of those changes work better in the movie than they would work in the book, and I think the book still stands on its own as well.
Second, the movie magnified an issue I didn’t notice in the books: Even though we’re meant to like the creator of Oasis (and the treasure hunt), it’s monumentally egotistical for him to ask the world to study every tiny detail of his life to decipher the clues he left behind. As a result, people spent years researching his past and preferences instead of spending their time doing…well, pretty much anything else.
Third, I liked how overindulgent the movie was with the Easter eggs. There are hundreds of them, and many of them happen so quickly that they’re nearly impossible to catch unless you’re pausing the movie every few seconds. But I enjoyed the hunt to identify more and more of them. For this reason, I would not recommend watching the movie in 3D. I saw it both in 3D and 2D, and 2D is much easier on the eyes if you’re constantly looking at different parts of the screen.
Fourth, I think it will be tough for me to watch any more heavy-CGI Spielberg movies. He is a great director, but I think he consistently falls flat in that format. The pacing, the editing, the humor, the connection to the characters…some directors work really well with CGI, but I don’t think Spielberg is one of them. I think he should stick with practical effects and real people as much as possible. Give me Catch Me If You Can, Munich, Hook, E.T., and Raiders of the Lost Ark any day over The BFG, A.I., War of the Worlds, Ready Player One, and even Minority Report (a film I actually enjoy despite how empty it feels).
Fifth, the movie has a strong message of the value of unplugging and connecting with people, food, etc in real life. While we’re far from the Oasis in 2018, I really like the message. I was at lunch the other day, sitting next to a family of 4, and this teenage kid spend the entire meal watching a YouTube video on his phone. This was while a crew was filming a TV show at the restaurant! He wasn’t just disengaged–his head was on the table, the phone in his lap, so that his entire focus was on the screen. I know that’s purely anecdotal and probably not indicative of every teenager or millennial, but it was at least a wake-up call to me that I need to be more aware of the time I spend connecting with screens instead of the rest of the world. Also, if virtual reality ever progresses to the level of Oasis, I’m in real trouble.
Sixth, the Iron Giant is awesome, and my favorite moment in the movie is when Artemis integrates her birthmark into her avatar.
What did you think of the Ready Player One movie?