Sunday, April 22, 2018

Ready Player One (a movie review post)

First, I have not read Ready Player One.
I've thought about reading it for a while, now, because, evidently, it made a big splash in certain circles. It's one of those books that I would read for the sake of seeing what the big deal is as opposed to having any real interest in the genre or the subject matter. HOWEVER...
After seeing the movie, I have lost all desire to read the book.
And that is a failing on the part of the movie. If an adaptation is good, it will give you a desire to seek out the source material, and this movie killed the desire I already had in reading the book.

Well, Ernest Cline probably played a part in that, too. I heard an interview with him where he goes on and on, basically, about how great he is and how original his novel is and how no one had ever done anything like that before...
Wait a minute! Original? Does he actually think his idea about a virtual world is original? Because that's what he said.
But, maybe, he comes from an alternate Earth where Snow Crash and the Otherland series and a plethora of other novels were never written so he thought he was first. Except I'm sure that's not the case. He's just one of those guys who is full of himself. Maybe it was because his book was a smash hit, but, honestly, he's probably been like that his whole life.

The lacklusterness of the movie didn't do anything to convince me otherwise.

Yes, I just called the movie "lackluster," which is not to say that it wasn't full of luster. It's shiny and sparkly and full of sheen. It is, after all, Spielberg, and the man knows how to make a movie. So, if you just want to wallow in the visual extravagance of it all, this movie will do it for you. It's like a reflecting pool.

Which is to say that it's shallow.
Shallow as heck.
It has one message: People spend too much time online.
It has one message, and the movie isn't really subtle about its presentation of it: People spend too much time online.
It has one message that they are so worried you won't get that they slap you in the face with it at the end of the movie: Get the fuck off your computer a couple of days a week!
Okay, so they're not quite that aggressive with it, but it's close. It is a PG-13 movie, after all.

Part of the draw for me for seeing the movie was the supposed 80s pop culture theme. I mean, I grew up in the 80s so, of course, that was a draw. The problem, then, is that this is just not true. Which is not to say that the movie doesn't have 80s pop culture references; the protagonist does, after all, drive a DeLorean. But it's misleading to say that the movie is a tribute to the 80s. Actually, that's an outright lie. It's not the 80s that the movie is a tribute to but pop culture itself. Sure, the 80s gets plenty of screen time, but the movie opens with a nod to Minecraft and soon follows with a twister reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, neither of which have anything to do with the 80s. The Atari and D&D references are more appropriately attributed to the 70s.

There's nothing wrong with all of the other pop culture references -- I think it's better, in fact -- I just find the misrepresentation, mostly on the part of viewers from what I can tell, to be interesting. Maybe people seeing the movie are missing the non-80s references? Or, maybe, because there are a lot of video game references, they have no context at all for getting those? Or maybe they're placing other references they're familiar with into the 80s because that's when they became familiar with said reference. Like Willy Wonka, also from the 70s. I don't know.

People are weird.

To be clear, it's not a bad movie. The movie is thoroughly enjoyable in a cotton candy kind of way. It's visually exciting and won't tax your brain by giving you any thoughts or asking you to figure anything out. It's also totally forgettable, which I find unfortunate. Like cotton candy, it's going to melt in your mouth before you ever get a chance to swallow; I just find myself preferring things with more substance these days. Or all of my days, actually, I suppose.

No stand out performances, either. They're all adequate, but no one worth mentioning, not even Simon Pegg, though he's as enjoyable as ever.


  1. One failing is that now, several weeks after seeing the film, I don't remember that much about it. That's not good.

  2. It's fun. It's entertainment. But yeah, it's not groundbreaking or anything. It's a very standard story presented with some different bells and whistles. The author said it was groundbreaking? He must be young. It's always the young who think their idea is shiny brand new.

    1. Liz: No, he's my age. And he's also a slam poet. In his 40s. If that tells you anything.