First things first, if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, then go do that. Now, I know you’ll probably ignore that, but you can’t say “You never told me!”. Yes, actually, I did. So HA!
I first read Ready Player One (RPO) when it was first released in 2011 and before it was this really big deal. I was browsing the NEW shelf at my local library, saw it and thought it was interesting, so I read it and loved it. Then I bought it and read it again. A few years later, after the movie had started production, I read it again. And somewhere along the way I purchased the audiobook (in CD format!) and had Wil Wheaton read it to me. Basically, I almost know the story better than Ernest Cline does.
Needless to say, the movie got everything wrong and the book did it better.
However, I still give the movie high marks, at least an 8/10. To may judgement, that’s pretty damn good. I never give anything a 10 because that means there wasn’t one thing wrong with anything (lighting, sound, acting, story, etc. I get picky) and it didn’t get a 9 because there were actually a few things I though could have been executed better.
Wade/Parzival and Samantha/Art3mis love story: The movie quickly shows Wade’s infatuation for Art3mis by having him show off Aech’s garage and babbling like a dopey schoolboy. Their relationship only really develops in one other scene before Wade declares his love for her at the dance party. Soon after they meet in person. Their relationship then builds in the real world, though they continue having moments during their attempts for find the Jade key. Of course at the end, they kiss and “awwwwwwe :)” -_-
The arc didn’t work for me. The emotional beats were off – information was revealed incorrectly that lessened the emotional impact of the romance. Their kiss didn’t matter or carry any weight because anyone with at least one eye and a brain knows that’s what happens with romances. (Greg, pick your jaw off the floor. You’re embarrassing me.)
In the book, their kiss wasn’t really that important either, but every time I read the ending to the book, I tear up. Why? The whole final scene has the moments Cline leads to throughout the novel. Revealing Art3mis’s name. Seeing each other for the first time. There’s more than a kiss. Also, the break up at the dance club was more dramatic because Wade and Art3mis had been throwing the Hunt aside to hang out and go on raids. Wade’s relationship with Aech falters. Wade can’t stop thinking about Art3mis. He even says “I felt like a large wooden stake had been driven into my chest.” when she dumps him. The book is told from Wade’s POV which does allow for closer and deeper emotions, but the movie should have structured the romance to have rises and falls and that tear jerking ending like the book has.
The Crystal Gate: The three keys are all needed to open the Crystal Gate in the movie. Makes sense, since that is why they’ve been gathering the keys anyway. This takes away from the important message the book has at this same moment: You can’t do things alone. Halliday made the contest not just because he liked games and had no heirs, but as a way to reconcile with the mistakes he made in his life and as a way to teach others to not make the same ones. The movie presents this with Halliday hiding his clues in key moments his personal life. If the two methods had been combined, it would have been extremely emotional and memorable.
The ’80s Nostalgia (or lack thereof): In the novel, there are hundreds of references to the ’80s. In fact, every clue and subsequent challenge was centered around some tidbit of pop culture from the decade. However, in the movie, the OASIS just seemed to be another videogame and Halliday’s love of the decade was lost. The clues seemed to be more based off his personal life (see point above). Part of the reason I loved this novel was the heavy handed lathering of ’80s culture and I wasn’t even alive during the ’80s. I was born in ’95. It gave the story a very unique flavor that won’t be replicated. The movie was just another action flick with very common stakes and world building.
Overall, the book was more successful because we were able to understand the characters better. Film tends to be limited on how much we can see and how well something translates to a visual medium. The film did a good job with being upfront about straying from the novel and I was disappointed at first, but it allowed me to put all those reservations aside and enjoy the movie for what it was.
Besides, the book is always better. 😉
If you’ve seen the movie, or read the book, what did you think? Which one was better? Comment and let me know!