Ready Player One: Movie Review

Ready Player One became available for rent on iTunes this past week so I finally got to see whether or not my theory from this post that Ernest Cline’s novel would translate better onto the big screen proved true. As always, I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers but I’m not sure how successful I’ll be.

There were parts of the movie I ended up liking better than the book and parts of the book that I liked better but I think, overall, my theory was right. For those who missed the original post, my theory is primarily based on the fact that all of the exposition that bogs down the plot of the novel wouldn’t really be an issue in a visual medium like a movie. And it’s true, in the movie all of the 80’s pop culture references that Cline spent way too much time explaining in great detail in the book were used as cool little easter eggs scattered throughout the movie that didn’t stop the plot every time they came up they way they did in the book. They even added some more modern references–Halo characters, the Serenity from the tv show Firefly, a girl dressed like Harley Quinn from the Arkham video games, etc.–which I really appreciated. All of the other exposition from the book–the background on Halliday, IOI, and the egg hunt and the like–was either explained through brief narrator voice-overs, through dialogue or through visual means making the barrage of information easier to bear than the pages and pages of exposition found in the novel…still I’m not sure I’d say that the movie was 100% better than the book.

The only reason I hesitate to say that the movie was better than the book is that the movie was so different from the book. Yeah I know that they can’t fit everything from a 400 page novel into a two-hour movie (even if it seemed like two hundred of those pages were exposition) so obviously the movie is going to change some things. However, Ready Player One the movie was so different that it often seemed like the only things they kept from the book were the characters and the bare-bones plot–by which I mean the plot if it were boiled down into the bullet points:

  • Race to find three keys to get a hidden egg
  • Winner gets control over the OASIS
  • Evil corporation is after the egg

Some of the changes were good changes–I particularly enjoyed that the movie made Parzival, Aech, Art3mis, Daito, and Sho more like team members than rivals for the majority of the story where the book really makes Parzival act like it’s more important for him to win the egg on his own than to team up with the people he considers his friends to stop IOI until he literally has no other choice. Some changes were unfortunate but necessary–the whole plot detour in the novel where Parzival gets the magic quarter is one of my favorites from the novel but it was a long and convoluted one that definitely needed to be cut for time and I think the way he gets this seemingly random but extremely important object in the movie was a pretty good solution to the problem. Even changing it so that the three gates were just sort of checkpoints and not their own separate tests was understandable. Other changes, however, were just too drastic for me to get behind. I’m talking about the fact that the whole freaking quest is different.

I don’t know, maybe they didn’t think a life-or-death game of Joust against an evil wizard was very cinematic (never mind the whole first half of the test that involved navigating a tomb full of bad guys) but then they went ahead and made a game of Adventure on Atari the last quest anyway so I don’t think that was the problem. But changing it so that some random no-name gunter found the first test, which opened multiple portals to allow all of the OASIS to attempt it (not just those who also figured out the clue), and then having the first test be a literal race–albeit a seemingly impossible one with admittedly cool easter eggs thrown in–was jarring and it seemed irrelevant to me like it had nothing to do with Halliday at all except for the fact that it was a reference to a conversation Halliday had with Morrow…which they made up for the sake of the movie. It’d be like if in the movie adaptation of The Goblet of Fire, instead of facing a dragon to retrieve a golden egg, Harry had to, I don’t know, wrestle a bear for a fish or something…cinematically interesting I guess but it has literally nothing to do with Harry or magic or Hogwarts. The second quest in the movie was a bit better than the first one–involving a sort of re-enactment of The Shining mixed with a zombie game Halliday had worked on–but it still didn’t scream Halliday to me and changing it from the test in the book seems pointless as I’m not sure it actually saved any time. The final test was actually pretty much the same as the one in the book–finding an easter egg in the Atari game Adventure–a simplified version of it of course but, again, I get that they had to do that for time-saving purposes. Overall, I enjoyed the movie but I think I enjoyed it more as its own standalone thing and not as a movie adaptation of a book–the drastic changes are less frustrating that way.

Town Line Tuesday: Six Months In

It’s been about a year since I moved to Nashville from California and about six months since I started the Town Line Tuesday segment on this blog. I created Town Line Tuesdays in order to hold myself accountable for finishing my novel and I wanted to use this landmark to look at how far I’ve come in these six months.

Sometimes it’s easy to feel like I’m standing still, like I haven’t made any progress at all. But in the time since I’ve started Town Line Tuesdays I’ve kept up with my weekly writing sessions at a local coffee shop, I’ve worked out a solution to the flashback problem I’d been having, and, best of all, I’ve hit (and passed) the 100 page mark. So, overall, I feel like this blog segment has been doing a good job of keeping me focused and motivated. At least as far as the novel goes anyway. As far as this blog goes–both the Town Line Tuesday Segment and the blog as a whole–however, I feel like in addition to the struggle to come up with new content for this segment, my focus on Town Line Tuesday has gotten in the way of content creation for the rest of the blog a bit and I haven’t really done a great job of keeping up with either side of the blog lately either. All that to say that while Town Line Tuesdays have been a big help with the novel, I think for the sake of this blog, reducing Town Line Tuesday updates to twice a month and, in exchange, increasing the amount of regular content on the blog–meaning more book and movie reviews, more daily life stuff, and possibly more short fiction–is the best thing to do at this point in time. Anyway, thanks for sticking with me through this dry spell, y’all are great!

SDCC: A Geeky Family Tradition

It’s my favorite time of year again, that magical holiday of fandom and geekiness, of cosplay and panels and running into celebrities on the street…of buying too many toys and pieces of art you don’t need (and comics and books you do), of late nights and early mornings, of aching backs and aching feet, of braving the dreaded Hall H line just to say you were there when Loki demanded you kneel before him or when Misha Collins bought pizza and coffee for the line. It’s the holiday they call San Diego Comic Con. Unfortunately, for the first time in twelve years, I found myself unable to make the trek down to San Diego…mostly because the trek is over 1,500 miles longer now that I don’t live in California.

Comic Con has been a family tradition since my parents took me for the first time when I was twelve. To be honest, I don’t remember much about my first Con. I remember seeing the exhibit hall for the first time and having my little head explode from the sheer enormity of the place, from far too many things to see and do in the single day our badges allowed. But beyond that, the specifics of that day all get blurred together with the first few years I went to the convention, I couldn’t begin to tell you what I saw one year or the next. I do remember the first year I tried to go to a panel–a Psych panel because of course it was–and learned that one does not simply walk into Ballroom 20 twenty minutes before the panel begins. The year after that I learned you don’t do it an hour before either. I remember the year we finally did make it into Ballroom 20–getting up at the crack of dawn to get in the already absurdly long line for panels that wouldn’t even start for six or so hours (later I’d learn that six hours in line is in fact nothing)–and camping out there all day seeing panel after panel after panel with my parents. It was glorious. And exhausting.

A ton of amazing memories have been made at Comic Con over the years—especially once we started going for multiple days and got to enjoy more parts of the Con outside of the exhibit hall. There was the year Mom and I went to the Psych the Musical premier, standing in line for hours, getting free Psych themed swag, watching the cast pull up in the Weiner Mobile and walk the line to greet fans, and getting to see the two-hour long musical episode in the theater a full six months before it aired on TV. Or the year I ran into Misha Collins outside my hotel. For those who don’t know, Misha Collins plays my all-time favorite character Castiel on Supernatural and is generally my favorite celebrity. I somehow managed to hold it together long enough to get a picture with him but the second he was gone my friend Michelle practically had to carry me away from there as my legs were basically noodles at that point. That was also the year I tried cosplaying for the first time and went as Scarlet Witch from Avengers: Age of Ultron for a day. Another great year was the year I went to a Supernatural fan party and made two new Supernatural-loving friends and—later in the weekend—ended up spending the night in the Hall H line with them for the Supernatural panel—a major rite of passage for Comic Con attendees I hadn’t actually done before. So many great memories, and I’m sad that I didn’t get to make even more this year but although it might be a while before I make it back, I’m confident that last year was not my last year attending San Diego Comic Con.

Kelly Amber Reads: Ready Player One

I finally finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline the other day. Dad has been begging me to read Ready Player One for forever and well, sometimes people telling me to read something makes me less willing to read it—especially now that I don’t go through books as fast as I used to (I know, I know, that’s on me but TV is just so much easier) and I want to save the time I do spend reading on books that I’ve chosen. But with Ready Player One making its way to the big screen this year I finally caved.

For those who are unfamiliar with this title, Ready Player One is set in a dystopian future where the global economy and environment have completely collapsed due to severe overpopulation. The only escape people have from this horrible reality is the OASIS—a vast virtual reality online game with literal universes full of things to do. When James Halliday—the creator of the OASIS—dies he leaves behind a video will stating that his vast wealth as well as complete control over the OASIS are to be given to the first person to complete a massive virtual scavenger hunt by following the clues Halliday left scattered throughout the OASIS. Eighteen-year-old Wade Watts, known in the OASIS as Parzival, is the first person to solve the first clue and successfully claim the copper key in the five years since Halliday’s death. Now, it’s a race to finish the quest and in the midst of it all Wade finds himself targeted by an evil multi-billion dollar corporation bent on winning the quest and destroying everything that makes the OASIS the last safe haven in a dying world.

I haven’t seen the movie yet so I’m not sure how well it turned out, but my main thought about this book is that it would make a better movie than it does a book. Of course, there’s the fact that today’s special effects should make all of Cline’s amazing world-building in regards to the OASIS really come to life on the big screen, but the main reason I think it would make a better movie than book is that the book is so exposition heavy. Yes, most of the exposition is necessary stuff like world-building, background on Halliday, etc. but there’s just so much of it—the first six chapters especially were a pain and a half to get through—that it bogs down the plot and it sometimes felt like Cline sacrificed the action in favor of explaining every single little 80’s reference in great detail. Movies don’t really have this problem. With movies, any necessary exposition has to happen through dialogue or events happening in the background of a scene or through cinematography so it’s a lot harder to get bogged down by all the details. Plus, the overwhelming plethora of 80’s references that fill the novel would all just be fun Easter eggs throughout the movie rather than things that stop the plot every time they appear so that the author/narrator can make sure the audience understands just how cool something is. Don’t get me wrong; Ready Player One was overall an enjoyable read I just think that its fun action-filled plot would benefit from a medium that allows that action-filled plot to shine instead of burying it under all of the other details that the novel seemed to get distracted by. But I guess I’ll just have to wait till the movie comes out on iTunes to see if I’m right.

Town Line Tuesday: Daphne Pendragon Part 2 (Continued)

Hey guys, for this week’s Town Line Tuesday I’ll be continuing to answer the Character Questions I started a couple of weeks ago. The questions are all from this tumblr post by @lanqu-e. If you missed the first part you can check it out here.

Part 2: Miscellany (Continued)

 

16. What kind of job does your character want/not want? What is their dream job? What do they think of their current job? Daphne’s dream job would be any job where she can help people, and in that way, her current job as an agent for AEGIS–a secret vigilante organization bent on keeping the peace between humans and Supernaturals–is perfect for her. However, when we meet Daphne at the start of the novel, she’s had her faith in the organization seriously shaken and the novel will deal in part with her struggle to make peace between her love for the job and the unshakable feeling that maybe the cause she devoted her life to isn’t as noble as she believed it to be.

17. What are your character’s greatest fears? Weaknesses? Strengths? Daphne’s greatest fears would be being unable to save people she loves and becoming the monster so many people have accused her of being. Her greatest weakness is maybe relying too heavily on her gift–when you have such a strong innate gift it’s hard not to rely on it but it rarely shows Daphne the whole picture and relying on half a picture of a situation has and will continue to cost her. Her greatest strength is seeing all the horrible dark parts of humanity (and inhumanity) and still being able to see the good in it. 

18. What kind of music do they listen to? Do they have a favorite song? Daphne mostly just listens to whatever local pop/rock/top 40 station comes over the radio. She likes music mostly for background noise not for the lyrics so she’d probably like Lindsey Stirling and similar artists/styles. 

19. If they came from their world to ours how would they react? What would they do? Daphne’s world is essentially the same world as ours except for the fact that in her world supernatural creatures such a ghosts, vampires, demons, and angels exist and live side-by-side (mostly) with humans. That being said, if she stumbled into our world somehow I imagine she would hate it because she would feel like even more of a freak and outcast than she does in her world. She would probably do everything she can to keep her head down and not attract attention to herself as she works to find a way home. (I also like to imagine that in her search for a way home she’d find me and although I’m pretty sure she’d cuss me out for the shit I put her through it’d probably be the best day ever).

20. What personal problems/issues do they have? Pet peeves? Umm this is way too vague I’m not sure how to answer it. Daphne has a ton of issues, I mean the poor girl has recurring nightmares nearly every night, she’s haunted by her past, and she sees her dead best friend everywhere she goes. To say she’s not the most emotionally stable person out there would be putting it lightly. As for pet peeves I’d say people not heeding her advice about their future (they never listen it’s beyond frustrating) also decaf coffee.

21. What kind of student were they in high school? For all that she never ended up going to college, for the longest time Daphne was convinced that college was the only chance she had of getting out of her hell hole of a hometown so she took her classes seriously. She was an A and B student for the most part despite her teachers’ blatant dislike of her. As for extracurriculars/social life… they were practically nonexistent. Spencer was her only friend and while he did his best to invite her into his social circle she kept to herself–both out of dislike for his popular friends and out of fear of dooming him to the same social outcast standing as her.

22. What is a random fact about your character? When she was four or five, Daphne wanted to be an angel when she grew up.

23. What is their outlook on life? What is their philosophy / what do they think in general about living? Daphne’s basic outlook on life is that there’s always something worth living for–that no matter how awful and bleak it can get sometimes (and she knows firsthand just how bad it can get) there’s still beauty and goodness in it too.

24. Who is the most important person in their life? Why? Who is the least important to them (who still has an impact) and why? Most important is Hannah–Daphne’s best friend, partner, and the reason Daphne joined AEGIS in the first place. Least important is Daphne’s father…he’s important in that he affected and continues to affect Daphne but he wasn’t a good father so he earns least important.

25. What kind of childhood did your character have? Well, it wasn’t a good one.

26. What kind of nervous habits do they have? Do they have any addictions? Daphne runs her hands through her hair a lot and, while it’s not necessarily what I’d call a nervous habit, she goes for runs when she’s stressed or scared. Closest thing to an addiction she has is an unhealthy love for supernaturally enhanced coffee.

27. If they could choose their epitaph for their grave, what would they choose? “The beauty of the soul revealed.”

28. Do they want to get married? Would they ever want kids? Daphne would love to get married to someone she loves. Kids are another matter–she’s not sure she would be a good mom–but with the right person she would consider it.

29. If they could have one thing in the world, what would it be? For her best friend back.

30. Would they ever kill someone? What would push them to kill someone? She has killed people before. It’s part of the job sometimes. Granted those people are usually monsters… What would push her to kill a human? Maybe killing someone she loves…but then that would make them monsters too right?

 

 

Town Line Tuesday: Context? What Context? #4

Hey guys, I was going to continue the character questions from last week for today’s Town Line Tuesday but I got caught up in other things so instead here’s another out of context line from page 7 line 1 and I’ll get back to the character questions next week.

“…the stuff’s practically my lifeblood now. If it was gonna kill me, I think it would’ve done so already.”

 

Pokémon TCG: A Test of Resilience

Last week, my friend Jake taught me how to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game. I know, I know, how can a self-proclaimed obsessed fan of Pokémon not know how to play the TCG? Don’t get me wrong, I do have a decent collection of Pokémon cards in a binder on my bookshelf at home but it’s exactly that, a collection–meant to look at and feel nostalgic not meant for playing purposes. Fun fact about me, never get me started on collecting anything, I will lose all impulse control and it will be a problem. Case in point, my collection of more than 100 Funko Pop figures currently packed away in a box somewhere because there simply isn’t space for all of them in my room right now. Anyway, the point is that no, I’ve never played the actual trading card game–although my friend Vicki and I used to make up our own rules for the game in elementary school because we thought the real way was too complicated…but I guess that probably doesn’t count.

Turns out the real game wasn’t nearly as complicated as I remember but then again I’m not ten anymore either. That’s not to say the game went well, however. I lost. Badly. We played three or four games and I couldn’t even come sort of close to beating Jake in any of them. He obliterated me. It was embarrassing. Now, I don’t consider myself a competitive person because while I always try my best to win, losing almost never bothers me. But this? this irked me. Maybe it’s because I see myself as something of a Pokémon expert and losing so badly felt a little like being exposed as an imposter. But it’s not like I’m all that competitive in Pokémon either, I enjoy the games for the collecting aspect and for the story I don’t take part in the online competitive battles so while I consider myself an expert I have no illusions of being–as Ash Ketchum would call it–a Pokémon Master as far as battling or strategy go. Still, losing to Jake bothered me. So I went home and downloaded the TCG app onto my iPad in order to hone my skills and prepare myself for a rematch I refused to lose. I’m proud to say that my training–combined with an entirely different deck–paid off big time. I won each of the three rematch games. As silly as it sounds, it was a win I really needed. It felt good to be reminded that sometimes you just need to get up when you fall and make sure you come back stronger than you were.