Thursday, August 2, 2018

The book or the movie?

Last week I wrote a glowing review for Ready Player One. This week, I've read the book.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's ever said the book is soooo much better than the movie. Sure, it's understood that a movie is a visual medium (duh), whereas in a book you create your own images, and therefore the story-telling can be inherently different.

An excellent example is Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. He starts with a prologue which shows what was narrated by Gandalf at the council of Elrond. You don't want long narratives in a film. 'Show don't tell' is absolutely the rule. Jackson added a few bits that I could have done without, other bits added explanation that I felt worked, but all in all the adventures of the ring bearers were pretty much the same as Tolkien's novel.

Ready Player One the book is a very different animal to Ready Player One the movie.

The basic premise is the same. James Halliday has left an easter egg in his Oasis gamer universe. The players have to solve a series of riddles and pass tests to win the prize. IOI, a vast conglomerate that owns most of the internet and the hardware that allows players to use Oasis, is cast as the Evil Empire, with Nolan Sorrento at its head. Sorrento will do anything to reach the egg first, using all his massive resources to keep other players out. But Wade Watts, through his avatar, Parzival, outsmarts Nolan - at least at first. Parzival is supported by his friends, Art3mis, Aeich, Shoto, and Daito.

So far so good.

But the challenges the High Five face in the movie are not the same as in the book. A couple of additional villains are added and the relationship between the five heroes proceeds in different ways. It's a very, very different narrative. I could say much more, but spoilers.

I enjoyed the book. A lot. It's written in first person, from Wade's POV. Of necessity, we never get into the heads of Aeich, Art3mis, Daito, and Shoto, or, for that matter, Nolan Sorrento. A lot of the book lovingly explains the tech to gain entrance to the Oasis and I liked that, too. But it's not great viewing.

Spielberg's movie is faster paced, edgier, and a bit more whizz-bang. There are more explosions and lots more real life. I can understand Spielberg adding in scenes from the villain's perspective so we can see what's going on with the opposition. In a way the screen writers have come up with a story that captures the essence of the book. The credits do say 'based on' a book by Ernest Cline - and that's the truth of it.

The nice side of that is you get to see a terrific movie - and then you can get a more intimate view - with a heap of deleted scenes - by reading the book. Oh - and I'd suggest you see the movie FIRST.

1 comment:

  1. I may have to give this a read. I think seeing the movie (or TV version) first and then reading the book/s is the way to go. It's why I waited to read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice and the series of books The Expanse was based on. It'll give me something to savor after two of my favorite shows are done.

    The only book I can think of that wasn't better than the movie was Jurassic Park. IMHO, they did a much better job with the characters and the plot in the film. In that case, I'm glad I read the book first!


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