Ready, Player One?
Hey all - Today we bring you a guest post from Honorary Lady, The Goog. He went to see Ready Player One this weekend, and since Tiny Doom opted out on this one, we asked him to share his thoughts. Ready? Go...
This is going to be heavily laden with spoilers about the plot (or lack thereof), and less spoilery about the movies easter eggs.
Hello internet, it's The Goog, aka Castle Thunder Graphics, aka Dan and I enjoyed Ready Player One.
...okay, I see some of you are still here, so let's chat.
Tiny Doom summed up the plot of the book and her thoughts on it here, so check that out if you aren't familiar with the basic premise of the story. The movie is basically the same plot.
Some of what I enjoyed about the movie was certainly the nostalgia, (I am a 41 year old white dude and the target demographic) but it's also a good popcorn action/adventure that's easy to get swept up in, at least until you start thinking about things. Spielberg had a great opportunity to say something on a few topics, like how women are treated online and IRL or how social media is changing society. Unfortunately, the movie did none of those things. But we did get the Iron Giant punching Mecha-Godzilla, which was pretty sweet.
I read the book a few years ago and couldn't put it down, I thought it was a ton of fun, even if it was full of problems (and Rush, ugh) primarily centered on the treatment of Artemis, the main female character. She was a cool character but she was also treated like a prize or goal voraciously perused by Parzival to the point of Wade just basically wearing her down. The book came out before the ugliness of "Gamergate", so I suppose some slack can be cut for that tone deafness (but honestly, not much). Or maybe Cline was playing on the 80s movie trope of winning the girl. If so, then he did a great job of objectifying Artemis.
The movie did nothing to even give you a reason to consider why the idea of objectifying Artemis, or women in general, is bad and it DID have Gamergate to look back at, which is kind of inexcusable. Even Parzival's best friend, Aech, who in IRL turns out to be a black (and in the book, gay) woman merely throws out the old chestnut that Parzival should be careful falling for Artemis because she could be a 300lb dude in his parent's basement.
Artemis does have her scene where she tells Parzival he can't love her because he doesn't actually know her; he only knows the persona she wants him to see. But shortly after, she falls for him anyway because the plot requires that it happen. All of the romance bits are the most cringy parts of the movie (aside from a few clues that Parzival uncovers which were so blatant it's amazing no one else in the Oasis had ever noticed them before, but I digress).
I really would have liked to see the romance played smarter, maybe be the heart of the movie. Artemis is pretty capable and fearless IRL. She really doesn't need Wade/Parzival and their relationship just came off as convenient for both the plot and Wade (since he had the hots for her before she knew he existed). I would have liked to have seen it develop in a more believable way. Samantha had little reason to start falling for Wade. In fact, the reason for her attraction to him seems to boil down to the fact that when they meet up in person and Wade discovers she has a large birthmark on her face, which she's embarrassed about, he doesn't care. So, love, I guess.
Ultimately there's no social commentary. There are a ton of seeds that were planted but left to rot. The bad guy's avatar was the Frank Miller's Dark Knight Superman for crying out loud, yet they make no allusion to what that might tell you about the character. In a movie where easter eggs and symbols carry so much meaning, this is a missed opportunity. Instead, we get a character who is only interested in money, making it just a meaningless easter egg. I think it would have been a MUCH better film had it had ANYTHING to say, but it's all surface.
The biggest headdesk moment for me was the very last minute or so, when we see Wade and Samantha in their IRL shared apartment, making out, with a voiceover saying that they decided to shut down the Oasis on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that people can get out and experience the world.
I was lying in bed the night after seeing it, getting more and more annoyed with the ending as I continued to think about it. Damn it Steven, you missed the entire point of what the characters were supposed to be fighting for IN YOUR OWN MOVIE! You ended it with "You damn millennials need to put your phones down and look up once in a while," rather than taking the opportunity to send a message that takes current internet culture more into consideration. UP YOURS, SPIELBERG.
...or maybe I'm wrong, maybe the movie did have something to say, it was 'Blah blah blah millennials blah blah blah I'm a cranky old man blah blah blah."
So, despite all that, it WAS fun. The easter eggs were pretty cool and I'm looking forward seeing it again where I can pause the screen and see what I missed the first time. That being said, there were SO MANY characters crammed into every scene that few had any time to breathe or pause long enough for us to appreciate their presence.
I think a really interesting movie could have been made from what they had. Instead we got a fun bit of fluff that will probably never become a pop culture milestone, which is a bit ironic, considering all the pop culture milestones it mines. Still, it wasn't a bad waste of a few hours and unlike the book, there was NO RUSH MUSIC! That alone upgraded my review.
What did you think?