Sunday, April 29, 2018

3+1 Short Paragraphs: Ready Player One

2018, Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, AI) -- cinema

I didn't know this book was so divisive until they announced Spielberg was adapting. Suddenly, a book that I saw as a fun and inventive romp focused on an obsession with 80s pop culture, primarily geek culture became the source of derision and controversy. Sure it's empty, sure its pandering and maybe the characters are not exactly paragons of virtue, but when are they? Anywayz, I am the exact demographic for this kind of story, as I grew up in the 80s and geek culture was my culture. And that also makes me the demographic for the movie, and also, who better to do it than an icon of that era himself -- Spielberg!

Wade Watts is growing up in The Stacks, the 2040s American version of tower blocks made up from mobile homes stacked on top of each other in precarious frames. This is pure dystopia, where people survive a horrible world set against them and escape into an ultimate VR experience called The Oasis. In case you are wondering how poor people can access a wonder of technology, remember even homeless people have smart phones today. The founder of The Oasis has died, and he has left behind the ultimate game -- a hunt for an in-game Easter Egg where the finder gets control of  his company. Of course, an Evil Corporation (IOI) wants that control so they can make even more money off it, and they are not afraid to hurt Wade and his friends as they hunt for the egg.

Despite The Oasis being created by a man who was obsessed only with his own childhood, Spielberg's is littered with other references to geek culture reaching out past the 80s. Identifying those references in the book was the fun part, and catching all the (expanded) references in the movie is again the fun bit. And that's all there is here -- a fun adventure romp for those who like geek infused adventure. And there is nothing wrong with that. You cannot make me feel bad about that.

If I was disappointed in anything about the movie, it was that it dispensed with the D&D heavy elements from the novel to add in more straightly familiar video game and movie references. The Tomb of Horrors is replaced by a racing game, War Games by an impressive recreation of The Shining and the rest all leading to an old Atari game at the centre of a FPS battle world. But again, I remind I am the demographic, so I loved it even with the straight forward plot and execution.

And yes, I saw the sticker on the back of Aech's postal truck.