“Ready Player One” has a lot of key differences compared to the book it is based on. This was probably a wise decision in execution, given the intense breadth of the book’s subject matter and length. The condensed story we are shown does hit most of the key moments and themes of the book, however.
With a nearly two and a half hour run time, “Ready Player One” is the kind of movie material that could go horribly awry in the wrong hands. But the film is fast paced and moves effortlessly from scene to scene without being bogged down in unimportant details. As a matter of construction, this is a well made movie. Spielberg is likely to thank in some part.
The film doesn’t quite have the edge or urgency of its source material. It’s tone and quick glance over the journey feels like it was intentionally revved down for a younger audience, rather than the book’s 80’s centric reverence. This isn’t inherently bad, but does feel more like a playful quest to get rich, with a dash of explicit lessons to be learned by the target viewer.
“Ready Player One” is radically different than the book in ways both significant and not, for understandable reasons. But the film does capture the spirit of the book–the pure creativity and endless liberation in the virtual paradise of the OASIS against the background of a bleak world ravaged by dystopia. While not a groundbreaking film with the worth of its textual counterpart, “Ready Player One” is immensely fun and a visual feast of contemporary pop culture, even if ultimately fleeting.