“Ready Player One”: the book vs. the Movie

by Elad Racin, Opinions writer
graphic by Denise Chan

More than $580 million. That’s how much money the movie “Ready Player One” made at the box office. In the past few decades, Hollywood has widely embraced the idea of movie-book adaptations; the combination of a great story and a pre-existing fan base seems to be the perfect recipe for cinematic success. 

Some notable book-to-movie adaptations include “Harry Potter,” “Jurassic Park” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Although some cinematic adaptations tend to be smash hits, the book version is often more well-received than its movie counterpart, and “Ready Player One” was no exception.

Set in 2045 Columbus, Ohio, “Ready Player One” explores a world burdened with poverty, war, governmental instability and climate change, where people escape their mundane lives through the OASIS. The OASIS is like the metaverse promises to be, a virtual reality where you can be or do anything that you dream of. 

When James Halliday, the creator and owner of the OASIS and its parent company, Gregarious Games, dies, a contest to select his successor culminates in a series of three main tasks: finding three keys, unlocking three gates and getting the golden egg. 

With a prize of approximately half a trillion dollars, the competition initially gains immense engagement and popularity; however, even five years after the competition’s commencement, there is no progress in completing the challenging tasks and only a few people who still care about the competition remain, now referred to as “gunters” or “egg hunters.” 

One of the only similarities between the book and the movie versions of “Ready Player One” is that the plot follows Wade Watts, a teenage gunter who lives in the slums of Columbus, as he navigates seemingly impossible tasks on his journey. While the book takes on a mature story geared towards an older audience that focuses more on Halliday’s intentions and life, in comparison, the movie is censored and more mainstream, focusing more on Halliday’s persona and his love interest.

In my opinion, the inconsistencies between the book and movie weren’t well executed. The faster pace of the movie led to a rushed storyline, and the overall plot fit better in a book form, which allowed for more interesting and well-developed scenes. The movie’s rushed scenes made it difficult to understand the characters’ intentions, and the movie scenes based on the novel were half-baked compared to the book’s original scenes. 

All in all, the movie’s generic dialogue and one-dimensional characters hindered my interest in the movie, and I found myself getting bored easily.

I do want to give the movie some credit, though: its incredible computer-generated imagery portrayed the characters with just enough realism so I could see their expressions while still preserving the feel of video game characters. 

Spielberg’s movie also included many ‘80s and ‘90s references. This touch didn’t undermine the plot and seemed natural considering that the contest was based around James Halliday, someone who grew up in and loved those decades. 

Finally, even with its inferior storytelling, the movie’s plot still proved interesting at times, and I can understand why some people love the film. 

Despite its downsides, I still believe that the movie should have been made, as it allowed many who didn’t read the books to enjoy an action-packed film. I’m sure that those viewers enjoyed the movie much more than I did. The movie depicts a scarily realistic story that is now, more than ever, prevalent.

In all, while I did not enjoy watching “Ready Player One,” it was an all-around decent movie, but I would not recommend it.