By JUSTIN YEH
Ready Player One is a stunning movie with an intricate plot…that is, if you have not read the book.
Set in a dystopian society of 2045, Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel follows protagonist Wade Watts as he searches for an Easter egg in the Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation (OASIS), a multiplayer virtual reality game created by James Halliday and Ogden Morrow. To find the egg and win Halliday’s vast fortune, Wade must locate three keys and gates by solving riddles and immersing himself in 1980s pop culture.
As excited fans flooded theaters to watch Cline’s novel brought to life by director Steven Spielberg, their expectations fell flat when the book’s plot was sadly butchered by its film adaptation. Unfortunately, the movie so drastically alters the plot that the beautiful complexity of the original novel has been reduced to a simple, predictable storyline.
Most notably, Wade’s accomplishments in the novel are downsized in the movie. For example, in the book, Wade allows himself to be captured by his enemies so that he can hack into their system from the inside. However, in the movie, Wade’s act of bravery and heroism is stolen from him, as Wade’s love interest Samantha is the one who allows herself to be captured instead. This difference is undeniably a puzzling one, as there is no reason the plot needed to change so drastically.
In addition, the 1980s pop culture references and challenges that players must overcome in the novel are almost completely ignored in the movie. Though the story is set in 2045, Halliday’s obsession with the 1980s, his teenage years, lead him to place various 1980s allusions throughout the hunt for the Easter egg. Admittedly, the many 1980s references can at times become confusing for readers who are not familiar with the time period. Therefore, one cannot blame Spielberg for altering the plot and adding more action scenes to entice viewers, but he does so at the cost of the book’s integrity.
Meanwhile, the conflict between Wade’s lust for Samantha and Samantha’s desire to focus on the game is downplayed as she quickly gives in to Wade’s persistence after minimal protest. Rather than saving Wade and Samantha’s face-to-face meeting for the conclusion of the story, the movie quickly skims over Wade’s rigourous journey to win over Samantha’s heart and leaves viewers wanting more.
Although the movie’s plot is underwhelming, its graphic and visual effects are, without a doubt, spectacular. For example, one scene involves a zero-gravity dance club containing light beams, bright neon colors and an all-around beautiful environment. The computer generated, motion-captured visuals bring the OASIS to life with a stunning display of colors and designs that are enough to keep the audience engaged in the futuristic film.
Furthermore, the end of the movie promotes a positive message advising viewers to spend more time in reality and less time in video games and virtual simulations. In a day and age where toddlers walk around with tablets and gaming devices in both hands, Cline and Spielberg send a much needed reminder to disconnect from electronics and live in reality every once in a while.
All in all, while the graphics may have been mesmerizing, the film’s plot could have been better crafted to maintain the integrity of the novel while still meeting the audience’s need for excitement. As for whether or not you should watch the movie, after considering its narrative shortcomings, just stick to the book.