How does it compare to the book?
Mr. Cline, working with Zak Penn (“The Incredible Hulk,” “Alphas”), co-wrote the screenplay, so it’s no surprise that both film and novel closely mirror one another in terms of basic plot, characters and overarching themes. In the story, teenage Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) and his gamer friends Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Aech (Lena Waithe), Daito (Win Morisaki) and Shoto (Philip Zhao) team up to find an Easter egg hidden in a global virtual reality community known as the Oasis, thereby unlocking a vast fortune.
The main characters — and James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the late founder of the Oasis — are obsessed with ’80s pop culture trivia, and the book is crammed with references that don’t make it into the movie (which, to a greater extent than the book, is bound by trademark law). Conversely, the movie introduces or expands several settings and characters that are nowhere or minimal in the book. If you read the book, what did you think of the trade-offs? Did you miss the “WarGames” and Dungeons and Dragons story lines from the book?
Additionally, there are major differences in some of the character arcs. In the book, Ogden Morrow, Halliday’s business partner and co-founder of the Oasis, is an active presence in the story; Daito is murdered by the corporate thugs at Innovative Online Industries, or IOI; and Wade, not Art3mis, infiltrates IOI in the final act. Not so in the movie. For book readers, what did you make of the character changes? Was Art3mis’s new back story as the leader of a secret rebellion a welcome addition or did it throw you off?
About that extended sequence from a classic film…
Easily the biggest water cooler moment in the movie doesn’t appear in the book at all — a lengthy trip for Wade and crew to the Overlook Hotel from “The Shining.” How did your theater react to the eerie recreations of Stanley Kubrick’s horror classic, including the hotel lobby and typewriter, Room 237 and that cameo from the Grady twins? Did the references connect for you or, like Aech in the film, did they leave you feeling more alienated than seen?
Is there something rotten in the premise? Or is it harmless — and welcome — escapism?
After Gamergate, the noxious video game and internet culture war in 2015, in which female gamers and critics were publicly threatened and harassed by their male counterparts, popular perception of Mr. Cline’s book shifted. “Ready Player One” suggests none of the toxic misogyny that typified that controversy. But the high-profile episode cast the stock image of socially maladroit yet self-entitled straight white men — like those Mr. Cline exalted — in a less forgiving light. Did the movie evoke any negative connotations for you? How sympathetic or relatable did you find Wade?
Another seismic shift in the zeitgeist since “Ready Player One” was first published: The sort of nostalgia — for fictional, carefully curated heroes from a brighter yesterday — that gave the book a cult following, and that the movie positions as the righteous refuge of orphans and underdogs is, here in the real world, arguably among the most dominant forces in mainstream contemporary culture. Hot on the heels of “Jumanji” and “Tomb Raider” reboots, and with “Star Wars” and “Jurassic Park” follow-ups just over the horizon, did the movie’s remember-when thrills still get your blood going?
Let us know your thoughts on all things “Ready Player One,” including what we missed, in the comments.