This is so incredibly exciting. I actually got to see this movie two weeks early, thanks to Stardust. First off, let’s talk about how excited I’ve been for this movie. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited!!! I’ve read this book three times, and it’s top five for me. It’s one of the books I most recommend to people. I love the story, I love the references, and every time I inhabit that world, it’s never enough. I need more geeky goodness.
We’ll get into the details of what all that means, but let’s talk about the event. It happened so fast, I didn’t even have time to freak out about it in advance. On Wed, I was told it could happen. It wasn’t confirmed until early Friday. Friday evening, I was there. A lot of other local Stardusters and YouTube stars were invited, so the early schmoozing was all about the meet and greet. That was almost more fun than the movie itself (for a mediocre film, it would have been the most fun part, but this film wasn’t mediocre). We were given free snacks and drinks and ushered into the RealD private screening room. Author Ernest Cline walked up and introed the movie. I realize I don’t sound too hyped typing this out, but catch me in person you’ll totally get my excitement.
So what’s this movie about? First off, lemme say if you’ve seen any of the marketing materials, they’re not conveying the awesome at all. I feel like the people in charge had no idea what this material is that they’re dealing with, and were just going for a generic mass appeal. But here’s the deal, this is a story for geeks, afficionados of film, games, music, and everything 80s.
It’s the future. The world is in shambles and people are poorer than ever. Their ultimate form of escapism comes from the OASIS: a virtual reality world where you can do anything or be anything. When the inventor of the OASIS, James Halliday, dies, he leaves control of his virtual empire to whoever can find an Easter egg he’s hidden deep inside his creation. To find the egg, you must solve riddles to find the keys to unlock the gate. To solve the riddles, you must know everything that Halliday knew and loved: every movie, every song, every game, everything. Be prepared to geek out.
I don’t even know what aspect to talk about first. Let’s start from the top. Director. Steven Spielberg. Yeah huh. I cannot begin to describe how excited I was when that was announced. So much of his filmography is referenced in the book. But most importantly, he GETS it. He gets the intention of the story and the nostalgic feels it inspires and the significance of every frame. Lately Spielberg has been doing prestige pictures (The Post, anyone?), but this feels like the grand adventures we first loved him for. It’s an experience I’d forgotten how much I missed.
Staying broad for a bit, let’s talk screenplay. If you’ve read the book, here’s a warning. It’s very different. However, I mean that in the best possible way. As I stated earlier, whenever I read the book, I’m bummed that it’s over because I want more. I want the story to continue. I want new challenges. This is that more. The beats of the story are the same, but the details are different. The games are different. The references are different. We always think of that as such a bad thing, but for me, those changes made the film surpass any expectations I had. I’ll admit to being hesitant when the first challenge was revealed and it was drastically different, but once I realized how and why that was, I was so stoked. I took in every second with fresh eyes and the same can’t-put-it-down (or look away in this case) excitement from my first read.
What’s next? Cast and characters. I love Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke and was so excited at their casting. They were perfect as Parzival and Art3miss. But the ones I walked away loving were Lena Waithe and surprisingly Mark Rylance. I haven’t been too sold on the idea of Rylance as a master actor yet. I think I’m still bitter he stole the Oscar from Sly Stallone. Here, I finally got it. Mostly because he really got Halliday. The way he portrayed him felt very real, and I loved his subdued and quiet approach. But it was Lena Waithe who stole the show for me. I loved her both as her avatar and in the real world. I wanna see her in every movie. Can we team her up with Tiffany Haddish in something?
Something else to talk about is the visuals. I’m gonna say a sentence that I rarely ever utter: See this in 3D!! I’m the first one to complain about unnecessary extra dimensions, but it’s essential this time around. It’s gorgoues and every frame is so rich. The first time we plug into the OASIS, you know you’re in for something next level. Also essential is gonna be multiple screenings to catch every Easter egg, so plan to see this on the best screens you possibly can.
When the credits rolled, I was so amped. It had been an amazing film, and the audience experience was out of this world. People were hollering and whooping and screaming and simply reacting loudly throughout the whole thing. Schmoozing afterwards, I was jittery. Everyone else was too. We were all practically shouting our enthusiasm and comparing what treats we found in the far corners of each scene.
As I’m standing around chatting, author (and co-screenwriter) Ernest Cline walks by. My buddy grabs him for a selfie, and the rest of us in the group follow suit. After I got my pic, I told him that I was a huge fan of the book and that I’d read it 3 times. He changes his stance from let’s-get-this-done-quickly-so-I-can-keep-going to let’s-pause-bc-I-genuinely-wanna-talk-to-you. He asks me how I liked it. I tell him I loved it. He says this is the second time he’s gotten to see it with an audience and the response has been incredible. I tell him how much I loved that it was so different, because (as I’ve stated twice already in this post), it was a way to get more of a story that I’ve wanted more of for a long time. I get a sincere thank you from him that conveys that he’s truly touched to hear something like that from a die hard fan of the book. I’m shaking as he walks off. I realize I may have been a bit overbearingly excited. I also realize this exchange took place in front of my boss’s boss (who was also part of the drive by selfie line), so I think that was a good thing.
I already had my opening night tickets to see this movie, and I can’t wait to revisit the OASIS. I may already be planning to see it at least one more time after that. Once again, lemme stress, if you’re a fan of gaming, film, pop culture, the 80s, go go go to this movie. Get to the first 3D screening you can find on opening day. It’s so worth it
Ready Player One – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/