Given that a movie does not have the luxury of time to dwell on developing all the details and story arcs, I'd rate a book-based movie on how well it manages to present the essence of the story without compromising on important details.
Based on this criteria, Spielberg's "Ready Player One" is an enjoyable adaptation of the book. As a standalone movie -- for someone who hasn't read the book, it is magnificent cinema. For the readers of the book, although still thoroughly entertaining, some important details not making it into the movie might leave a space for wanting a little more out of it.
The visualized / on-screen world of OASIS is close to the imagined one in the book, albeit slightly less realistic than the picture painted by the book; it works nonetheless. James Halliday's character is well-portrayed; the virtual world is fascinating to experience; the evilness of IOI seeps in successfully; Nolan Sorrento's despicability is preserved; the re-imagined first task is a treat to watch.
The characters' development, and their story arcs, suffer the brunt of time limits, and, consequently, several major events from the book either get completely altered or do not even make it into the movie. For instance:
- The bonding between Aech and Z (who is supposed to be a school boy) that develops in the chatrooms gets left out, diminishing the impact of reveal of Aech's identity.
- The settings of the tasks, and events that lead to them, are different: there's no build up in the names of Art3mis, Daito, and Sho propping up on the scoreboard being watched by the world.
- The entire arc where Perzival gets a new identity, then is captured by IOI, and placed in those hab-units ( Loyalty Centers ) to work as a tech. support guy; his hacking into IOI's system through the entertainment panel to escape, was completely altered and diluted in the movie.
- Ogden Morrow plays an important role in the book through his interaction with the five characters; whereas he's been reduced to a couple of scenes in the movie.
Despite these, and some other fun bits of left-out details, the movie kept an unrelenting pace, and an engaging narrative from the first- to the last- scene. Probably even worth a second viewing.
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