Recently I picked up the novel “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline because the Steven Spielberg film comes out March 29. The ad didn’t look that promising but I wanted to see if the book was any good. So how is it? It’s interesting. It’s a mixture of the teen dystopian science fiction that’s so popular right now and a far more interesting postmodernism which I haven’t seen in literature recently. It’s about a future where Earth is a shithole so everyone spends all their time on the OASIS, a high-speed virtual reality internet wonderland where you can lose yourself in gaming and movies. and chat rooms. The founder of the OASIS, a reclusive billionaire, dies and leaves his fortune to whoever is smart enough and a good enough gamer to win. In order to win, you have to be a pop-culture genius and retro video-game expert. A group of five teen gamers and film buffs must get to the Golden Egg before the villainous Sixers do, or virtual reality will be forever doomed.
This book’s greatest attributes are its armada of pop-culture references and pop culture jokes. From Delorians to Johnny Five, Max Headroom to “Blade Runner,” 80’s pop culture is constantly referenced and joked about. This could lead to some very interesting filmmaking if Spielberg has the satirical chops. What’s not so good are the geeky characters, the predictable plot, and the unnecessary infusion of politically correct messages. For example, we are supposed to believe that a 168-pound girl is hot. Sorry, Homey don’t play that… also, another girl has gender issues. Not to be mean, but I don’t care about that. Eventually, the paper-thin characters and annoying “positive” messages wore me out and the book took too long to finish.
Will the movie be any good? Spielberg’s a genius but he may not be good enough at comedy to pull this off, as evidenced by his super-mediocre flick “1941.” Also, audiences may be tired of the whole teem dystopia thing. However, the film has buzz of perhaps being a real special FX breakthrough. If it’s better than “The Matrix” FX and imaginative enough, maybe it’ll be a surprise success. We here at GROIN are planning to post a review of this film on opening weekend, and here’s hoping it’s amazing!