Ready Player One – A note on adaptation

You may or may not remember that I read Ready Player One about 6 months ago, although devoured is probably a better word. And after saying my piece about the book, it seems only right that I should follow up with a few words about the film, seeing as it’s arrived.


The first thing to be said, especially for those of you who’ve read the book, is that it’s quite different to the original material. (If you need it, my brief-and-spoiler-free synopsis is in the post linked above, for reference.) The challenges that stand between player and key are significantly changed, and much of the real-world action has been doctored too. But stick with me, that’s not to say it’s all bad, far from it! The Gates that a player must pass through to obtain the keys that will eventually lead to finding Halliday’s Easter Egg in this virtual reality multiverse (I most definitely stand by my comments made in the last post – I do NOT envy the writers trying to exposition this bad boy on film) needed to be changed. They were far more complex in the book, with more stages to get through, and they were not always very visual, if at all.

Yeah that’s right, I’m praising changes made to the adaptation.

This is a prime example of how sometimes books need to be altered in order to make a good film out of it. The story and the fun adventure part of Ready Player One lends it perfectly to the cinema, but if the challenges had remained the same, they would have lost all sense of excitement and pace. So, here’s one book fan who isn’t complaining.

Of course, it wasn’t perfect. There was definitely at least one discovery, light-bulb moment that seemed just a little too convenient; and I don’t think enough was made of the ordinary-ness of the quarter; Wade himself was appropriately Hollywood-ified in appearance, but endearing enough; and how on earth that British actor who played Sorrento’s assistant got through the audition process I will never know. I also had issue with Aech and the avatar the filmmakers chose – definitely ruined the impact of Aech’s moment. If you’ve seen the film/read the book, this is worth a read, even if only as a talking point.

Unfortunately adaptations have a bad rep among readers – they change things that the readers loved in the book. Now some adaptations are better than others, and I’m sure we can all reel off a string of bad ones, but I think despite the changes, Spielberg’s Ready Player One won’t be included in many of those lists. Or, I hope not. I thought this film was a lot of fun, and in that sense, was very true to the book. A solid marker of a good adaptation, in my humble opinion, is the involvement of the original author in the production. In this case, Ernest Cline was one of the writers, and if the alterations are good enough for him, then they’re certainly good enough for me.

Author: camillehatcher

Bookworm, film fanatic, quote master, and apprentice wordsmith.

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