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.
Last night I went out with a friend of mine to an Avengers Trivia Night at a local soda and ice cream shop here in Nashville called the Soda Parlor. I’ve never done anything like this before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I figured hey, I’ve seen all the Marvel movies, I know a lot about the Avengers, I’m sure I can ace this. So my friend and I checked ourselves in under the team name Captain Charizard and ordered our drinks–I got a root beer float and he got a cookies and cream milkshake–before taking our seats and waiting for the event to begin.
The trivia game consisted of three rounds of ten questions each, with the host reading the questions aloud and the teams of three–or two in our case–wrote their answers on the their team card. The cards were collected and the correct answers were revealed at the end of each round. Team Captain Charizard got a whopping twelve out of thirty (six in the first round and three in each subsequent round). There were a lot of really hard questions about small obscure details in the movies. Do you know what percentage Iron Man’s suit got super-charged to upon being struck with Thor’s lightning during their fight in the first Avengers movie? Or what band was on the shirt Tony was wearing in the infamous “We’ve got a Hulk” scene? There were some easy ones as well like finishing the quote: “Because if we can’t protect the earth you can be damn well sure we’ll ____.” One question I can’t believe I got wrong was what does S.H.I.E.L.D stand for. I got the consonants right (Strategic Homeland ___ ____ Logistics Division) but blanked on the “I” and the “E.” The question I was really proud that I got right was what is Hawkeye’s wife’s name, especially since I just went with my instinctual response and wasn’t even remotely sure I was right. Overall, the questions were a lot harder than I expected but I feel like it was still a pretty good mix of easy, medium, and hard questions.
At the end of the game, the winning team went home with a box of Marvel merch and some gift cards after they got twenty-five out of thirty questions right…more than twice our score but that’s alright I had a ton of fun playing anyway and would totally love to do something like this again.
Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement Logistics Division
As a storyteller, one of the most important–if not the most important—elements that make up every great story are its characters. If plot is the backbone and setting the skin, characters are the heart and soul of a story. Without interesting, well-developed, loveable (or hate-able), and relatable characters a story is little more than an empty shell. This is a principle I believe wholeheartedly in whether I’m writing a story or consuming it. Plot may be what drives me to pick up a book or start a TV show but characters are what keep me from putting it back down or abandoning it in search of something new. So when the excitement over the Avengers: Infinity War trailer that dropped last week had subsided I was struck with just what, exactly, sets the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far apart from the DC Extended Universe. First, let me preface this post with: I will try to avoid spoilers but if you have not seen Justice League yet (or any of the MCU or DCEU movies for that matter) and want to avoid being spoiled, you should probably stop reading now.