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Why Ready Player One Exceeded my Expectations

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It’s always true that when going to a movie adaptation of a book, you can expect discrepancies. Sometimes book adaptations can be really, really bad (think Percy Jackson), but sometimes they can be really good. While Ready Player One certainly strayed from the source material, it highlighted the best parts of the book and improved the worst, creating a streamlined version of the story that anyone can enjoy.

There were certainly things about the book that I wasn’t a big fan of, most notably the protagonist Wade Watts (Parzival). This isn’t to say that I didn’t root for him, but his primary character traits were geeky, existential, and self-serving, which made for some unpleasant chapters. Another problem was Art3mis, who was little more than a mix between a glorified gamer girl and a damsel in distress there for the protagonist to save. Don’t get me started on the barrage of showy pop culture references that were shoved in the face of readers. I get it, I read a book that was called “the holy grail of pop culture,” but sometimes it was over the top.

The movie, however, seemed to correct all of these mistakes, both intentionally and unintentionally. Obviously, the movie can’t verbally describe every single detail on the protagonists DeLorean (if you want to read that cringy description, go Wade’s arrival at The Distracted Globe). Rather than relying on the name dropping of popular titles of games, movies, songs, and tv shows, the movie allows the viewer to notice what they know, making the movie an easter egg hunt for the people watching as much as the characters.

The fixes in the protagonists were subtle, but definitely an improvement upon the book. Parzival is remarkably improved in this version due to character development that isn’t just physical weight loss. Rather than staying stagnant, he grows and changes with what he learns, which is more rewarding as a viewer. Art3mis in the movie is also given a much bigger, more important role in the movie. The elevation of her character makes up for the damsel in distress factor and makes her more than a trope.

There were definitely story changes, but they were executed in a way that made it enjoyable. Due to copyright issues, the movie couldn’t have exactly the same quests as the novel, but the ones in the movie carried Halliday’s narrative, and made the actual receival of the key more about wit. This is a far cry from the book, in which all of the quests are based in the memorization of 80’s pop culture, which has become commonplace in the society the story is set in. Because the puzzles aren’t memorization based, it makes it more gratifying when the protagonists succeed.

Arguably one of the best parts of the film is the visuals. While many were skeptic about the vast amounts of CGI needed in the OASIS-based scenes in the film, they were so well done and captivating that it’s hard to imagine that quality was ever a question. There were so many details hidden in the rich backgrounds of each scene, from popular characters to grafitti on the walls. Just by watching, it was clear that there was a lot of care taken when choosing the appearance of each setting. From practical places like Wade’s hideout to CGI settings like The Distracted Globe, every sight is full of hidden depths.

As a fan of both the movie and the book, I was unsure as to whether or not I would enjoy the film, but after viewing it, I realized that it’s possible to enjoy both and realize where each one did or didn’t do well. I’ll definitely be seeing Ready Player One again, and I recommend that you head to your local theatre to do the same.

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