“If I was feeling depressed or frustrated about my lot in life, all I had to do was tap the Player One button, and my worries would instantly slip away as my mind focused itself on the relentless pixelated onslaught on the screen in front of me. There, inside the game’s two-dimensional universe, life was simple: It’s just you against the machine. Move with your left hand, shoot with your right, and try to stay alive as long as possible.”
― Ernest Cline,
I will start this by saying that it’s not entirely fair to compare these two because the movie is sooo different from the book. They kept the basic premise: It’s 2044 (or 2045 in the movie I believe) and the world is mostly lived within a digital “Utopia” called The Oasis. The creator of the Oasis dies and leaves three keys within the virtual reality universe to be found. The first one to find all three keys gets control of the company. Wade Watts is still the main character and most of the side character allies kept to keep their parts as well. However, keeping in tune with modern-day movie tastes (I guess), it’s become more of a revolution to keep the Oasis free and available to all. (Net Neutrality ringing a bell, fellow Americans?) I think that the change worked, but I don’t know that I necessarily liked it. I try hard not to fall into the “don’t change anything about the books, please oh please oh please” mantra that so many book readers fall into but sometimes it’s hard. I tried hard to be spoiler free in the comparisons below, so if I ruin anything I’m sorry! I’m trying to be as specifically vague as possible.
Things the movie changed that I really enjoyed:
- They got away from Wade’s education, which is a large chunk of the first part of the book. I didn’t mind it in the book, but it was easily replaced in the movie without me realizing at first or caring at all.
- Halliday’s Journals replaced Anorak’s Almanac. Halliday’s Journals came with a really fun and witty NPC that I enjoyed, so this was a change I’m fully behind.
- Art3mis’s role in the movie: In the book she is a really kick ass female gamer who is loved by (almost) all but in the movie, they add a great detail by making her one of the leaders of the resistance band trying to obtain the keys to keep the out of the hands of a greedy corporation who plan to monetize the Oasis.
Things I’m not too crazy about:
- completely changing I-r0k’s charater in the movie. He was a funny, egotistical comic relief in the book but in the movie he was a gun for hire that fell flat for me.
- reducing Kira’s part in the movie. She was the wife of one of the creator’s and the lost love of the main creator, Halliday, but in the book she was wicked smart, funny, geeky, and had a great back story. In the movie, she was just a pretty face used to push the plot.
- THEY CHANGED TWO OF THE KEYS. The first one I understand, because they took out Wade’s school existence altogether, but the second one wasn’t a hit for me.
Over all, I’d recommend book over movie for this one. That said, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the movie in the same “Sure I can waste two hours watching this with a bowl of popcorn” way that I watch anything that doesn’t feel like it has much emotional depth, like Legally Blonde. Or the new Jumanji.
Have you seen Ready Player One? What did you think?