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Monday, 2 April 2018

Ready, Player....Game On.

Today, I went to go and see the new movie Ready Player One with my family. I'd already read the book, and so had my brother - well, listened to the audiobook. A few times. I enjoyed it. It has copped a bit of flak recently, though, and understandably; it can read as somewhat of a "white boy's fantasy", to put it simply. Win the prize, get the girl. So I was interested to see how the movie would take all of it. Particularly knowing that there was just way too much in the book to squeeze into a movie. And if you have read the book - don't go in to the cinemas thinking that it's going to be the same, because it's not. Some very similar ideas, but there are a few key differences as well.

For those that aren't familiar with the story, I'll give a brief run-down of the setting here. I'll try not to be too spoilery as yet.
We're about thirty years in the future, and there's excessive overcrowding and an energy crisis to boot. Many places just plain aren't safe, though this isn't mentioned so much in the movie. Into this, we have a virtual reality world, called the Oasis. More popular than Facebook, with a bigger explorable universe than you've seen in any game - it has pretty much anything you can imagine. And if you can't find it, you can make it yourself. The best thing is, it's super-cheap to access. Items and such in the game aren't free, though - you can buy them with real-world or in-game currency. It's at the point where the vast majority of the world uses Oasis.
The creator of the Oasis, James Halliday, dies. And at his death, he sets up a quest of sorts - he says that he has hidden an easter egg somewhere in the Oasis. And that whoever finds it will inherit his shares in the company, and gain control of the Oasis. He gives people a few clues, and tells them that they'll need to find three keys to get the egg. And suddenly, the whole world is hunting for Halliday's egg. And because he was obsessed with 80s pop culture - so is everyone else. Just in case there's a clue somewhere, or in case it becomes important along the line. But nobody has found anything for years.
Stepping into this is our protagonist, Wade Watts, or Parzival, as he's called in-game. He's a kid who has basically nothing, but he has time - and so he puts all of it into the hunt. The story basically follows him as he tries to find the keys, and interacts with various people along the way.

If you've read the book, there are certainly references in the film that you'll appreciate; like the Cataclysm, or Mecha-Godzilla, or the sixers, or the quarter, and Aech, each of which is done quite well. But you'll also notice quite a few differences. Some of these are probably because of trying to shorten it down to a manageable length - others because of what the movie was able to get the rights to use. As such, the challenges associated with the three keys are different to what you have in the book, but what you have instead is still good. Warning - for those that get scared easily or don't like horror, you may not like bits of the second key. It's not too bad, but certainly more intense than the rest of the movie. Also, you have a bit more interaction with the real world - and Og doesn't show up quite as much, which I thought was a pity! He was one of my favourite characters. But when he's there he's done well. Also, they never actually explained the "Ready Player One"! For those who haven't read the book - those are supposed to be the first words you see when you go into the Oasis, reminiscent of old arcade games.

For those who haven't read the book - it's a quite well-done story, particularly for those that will appreciate the references back to pop culture that's a bit older. It's a little cheesy at times, and it moves at quite a fast pace - but the visuals are great, and the characters are enjoyable. It's not the best out there, but it's a good movie that I certainly enjoyed watching, and I'd happily recommend it.