My Geek Box drops again, and we have no idea which month it’s for! lol It doesn’t really matter though, because it was a pretty decent one! Forgoing one item that Jason literally throws across the room, this box had a sweet shirt design, a humorous and interesting book, and items from Ready Player One, Marvel, and a horror favorite. Check it out, and if you want to try My Geek Box for yourself, use coupon code TBASE10 at checkout to get a discount!
I’ve been intending to write this review since we saw the movie a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been having a hard time thinking about how to go about it. This is the kind of movie that it’s going to be difficult to review without spoilers, you see, but I’ll try my very best because I want to share a few thoughts.
“Ready Player One” takes place in a future that is rapidly declining into serious dystopian territory. The world has become a depressing place for a number of reasons, but most people get through their day by being obsessed with the OASIS which, for all intents and purposes, is much like a virtual reality version of the internet. It is a massive online world where the entire planet can be connected at once, play games, learn, explore, go on adventures, and basically do anything and everything in the form of an avatar they create to look however they want. Our story begins when the creator of this OASIS world, James Halliday, passes on and leaves behind a challenge: find the Easter Egg that he’s hidden in the OASIS, which requires passing three hidden challenges, and you’ll inherit the OASIS itself, as well as his fortune. The film follows teenage boy Wade Watts, as well as some friends he meets along the way, as he fights to be the first to complete Halliday’s challenge.
The first thing I will say is that I did read the book by Ernest Cline before seeing the film, and while that may have prepared me for some of the film’s more iconic scenes, I do not believe that it detracted from my enjoyment, nor would reading the book have been a necessity in order to properly enjoy the film. In fact, I saw the movie with my husband and daughter, neither of whom had read the book, and they both enjoyed it just as much as I did.
Secondly, having read the book, I will bring up the fact that a lot of liberties were taken in the making of the film, specifically with the manner of the three challenges, which were changed dramatically. Now, many avid book readers scoff at this kind of thing, often considering the book to be “perfection” and thus changing it constitutes a terrible sin, but I’m going to break tradition here and say that these changes were actually for the better. Without going into too much detail, the fact of the matter is that while Halliday’s challenges sound wonderful and mysterious within the context of the book, on screen they would, frankly, be pretty boring. By drastically changing the first challenge in the film, for instance, we were able to be introduced to all the important characters, including the antagonists, as well as the intricately beautiful world of the OASIS in one fell swoop, whereas the book’s version of the challenge has only two characters discovering it secretly and completing it without anyone else in the OASIS knowing what is happening. I loved the book challenge, don’t get me wrong, but for a visual medium, the changes that were made for the film make much more sense and are able to get the important information to us much quicker while also giving our eyes a feast of nostalgia.
And therein lies my third point: the nostalgia is strong in this film. The secondary plot point of the story, as the book-readers will know, is that James Halliday was obsessed with the 80’s, and pop culture in general, and as a result the entire world becomes obsessed with those obsessions as they struggle to unlock the keys to his Easter Egg hunt. That means that the movie is filled with so much nostalgia that it is impossible to see it all upon first viewing. From players’ avatars to background scenes, games that are being played, items that are being won, and everything in between, there are nods to pop culture from the 80’s and 90’s absolutely everywhere, with a large portion from the 2000’s as well, just to keep things modern. My family and I had a blast pointing out characters from some of our favorite shows and games, chuckling at special items the characters used that came from movies or shows from our childhoods, and gaping at CG versions of pop culture icons that we never would have expected to show up in this film. There were nods to anything and everything, with something for everyone to recognize, and if you, in particular, grew up in the 80’s and/or 90’s, you’re going to be grinning like a lunatic while trying to catch everything.
In keeping with the fact that there is both retro nostalgia and current-day pop culture within the film, I thought I’d also mention that, yes, this is a movie for the whole family. There is a bit of mild swearing, slight romantic suggestiveness, and violence of the virtual kind, none of which would phase the majority of younger children. The final decision lies with the parents, of course, but I will tell you quite honestly that there was nothing in the length of the film that I was concerned about my 7-year-old seeing or hearing.
Back to the quality of the film, I felt, overwhelmingly, that the acting was well-done on all fronts. Tye Sheriden was virtually exactly what I’d pictured for Wade Watts while reading the book, and though a few of the characters were a wee bit stereotypical in nature, the “High Five” group all did a great job of bringing their respective characters to the big screen in a way that made you fall in love with them. Ben Mendelsohn as the lead antagonist and bigwig in the evil IOI company, Sorrento, was great in that he was a wonderfully weaselly S.O.B. whom you just wanted to see smashed down. I-R0k – a character who lost some of his backstory in the film but was still fairly front-and-center as an antagonist – was played very humorously by T.J. Miller in a way that made you really imagine him as a pathetically over-confident little creep of a kid playing the game in his parents’ basement. Simon Pegg, though his role was not a particularly large one, was a great addition as Halliday’s previous business partner and friend, Ogden Morrow. The one cast member who took me a bit off guard was Mark Rylance as the all-important Halliday, simply because his performance was very unlike how I’d pictured Halliday while reading the book. That said, I have to concede that his take on the character was much more interesting than the one in my imagination, performed as a wonderfully awkward nerd who was sweet enough, yet seemed to struggle horribly every time he had to speak to a real flesh-and-blood person. It brought a depth to the character that ultimately ended up being quite important to the Egg hunt itself.
Finally, though I mentioned it somewhat while speaking about the nostalgic qualities of the movie, I have to mention again that the visuals throughout were absolutely stunning, and I’m not speaking about just within the OASIS. In the “real world” scenes we were shown important locations from the book, such as the “Stacks” – literal stacks of trailer homes built dozens of layers high in order to cram as many occupants into as little space as possible – the junkyard where Wade has his hideaway, and the IOI “loyalty center” where Sorrento and his team keep base, and all of them were actualized beautifully. In particular, the Stacks looked like they were pulled right out of Ernest Cline’s brain, and the scene did an amazing job of pulling you into the rough reality of the world Watts – and most of the planet – were so keen to escape. Of course, in addition to the “real world”, the OASIS is absolutely stunning in every sense of the word, showcasing a huge variety of different worlds crawling with every form of pop culture you can imagine, all in a “it looks kinda real, but also very video game-ish” style that perfectly suits the reality they’re trying to capture. It was all very lovingly done in order to make the OASIS and the world outside it seem equal parts real in their own rights, and it’s all so genuinely beautiful that I didn’t want to blink for fear of missing something amazing.
What it all boils down to in the end is that I have next to no complaints about the film, and honestly none worth really bothering to dive into. It was an exceptionally fun movie for my entire family, with tons of both in-your-face and more in-jokish content from the past four decades of pop culture to keep all three of us giggling like fools. The changes made from the book made absolute sense and only served to create a better visual experience for the movie-goer, and the entire experience was stunning to the eye, including an absolutely epic end battle scene that you’ll have to play frame-by-frame once it comes out for DVD and Bluray just to catch half of what’s happening. A genuinely epic tale, true to the original story while understanding what does and doesn’t work for film form, and absolutely a must-watch, in my opinion. Go see Ready Player One if you haven’t already!
Have you seen Ready Player One? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section below!
Time for another My Geek Box! This one featured items from Ready Player One, Marvel, DC, and Star Wars, and I won’t lie…this one felt a little light to me. But to each their own, of course, and if you’re interested in checking out My Geek Box for yourself don’t forget to use the coupon code in our video description for £10 off your first box.
I recently started a new job, and if you didn’t know, the nature of my work requires me to fly to another province and live there for 2-3 weeks, working daily 12-hour shifts the entire time I’m there. As you can imagine, this schedule doesn’t leave a lot of room for free time, but during the time that I do have I squeeze in as much as I can to keep myself sane. So I thought I’d share what I’m currently…
First off, I wanted to mention that I recently finished reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and I absolutely loved it. I don’t know what I was expecting from the book, but it actually surprised me in a big way. I loved the story, the characters, the crazy semi-dystopian future that Cline created, and the non-stop pop culture references and throwbacks to geek and gamer culture and history. It’s definitely worth a read – especially if you grew up through the 80’s, and I’m totally stoked for the upcoming movie now.
But to be more true to the word “currently”. I’m actually reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone again for the Basement Geeks Book Club. I’m only on Chapter 3 as of the writing of this post, but I’m enjoying it so much. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read any of the series and I’d forgotten a lot of the smaller moments in the narrative that make up the greater whole.
I’ll also shortly be starting another book with the same book club called Family Don’t End With Blood, and I’m very excited about this one. It’s basically a compilation of stores about people whose lives have been affected by the show Supernatural. Since I absolutely love that show to death, and the book has chapters and inserts from the stars of the show, I can’t wait to delve into that one.
I decided to use the time I’m stuck out here alone to watch some things that Jason doesn’t want to, and I’ve started with Death Note. I started the anime series about a teen who gains the power to kill by writing a person’s name in a notebook a while ago, but at the time I only got a few episodes in because I was distracted by other things. I enjoyed rewatching the episodes I’d already seen, but now I’m into the episodes I hadn’t yet gotten to, and I’m really into it. I can’t wait to see where the story goes by the end. Plus I just love the shinigami character, Ryuk. He’s too awesome.
This will be the most boring entry in this post because, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t really had the time to be playing anything lately, especially now that I’m working again. Between 12-hour days, catching up on my social media and channel-related stuff daily, and the aforementioned reading and watching, there’s not enough time left in the day to really get into a video game. I’ve been wanting to get back into Borderlands 2 on my Vita, after watching Jason playing a bit of it on the PS4, but there’s really no sense in getting into a game like that unless you’re willing to sit down and dedicate at least an hour into it at a time. That said, I’ll admit that I’ve been playing two phone games during breaks at work while I’m eating. One is Magikarp Jump, which is a fun little game that’s strangely addictive, but also doesn’t involve any real skill at all. It’s the type of game where you just poke the buttons and watch what happens, and it can only really be played for five minutes or so at a time. The more involved one I’ve been playing is Sailor Drops, which is basically a Candy Crush clone, but with the storylines of Sailor Moon attached to it. I’m highly addicted, if only because they keep having special events in which you can unlock more and more characters and I desperately want to get them all.
So that’s what I’ve been consuming recently. What about you? Any new, fun stuff on your list? Anything you recommend? Anything you vehemently DON’T recommend? Please feel free to share!