I went to “Ready Player One” last night with my 12-year old son looking for a “Star Wars” moment with him. He and I had read and listened to the book and we were excited to see the movie. The references in the movie were to many of the things that I grew up with as a nerd/geek. Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), Atari systems, quarter fed gaming systems, hanging out at pizza joints, etc. There was also the high-tech rigs, Gundams, and enough action and heroism in the book to make any preteen excited. However, Spielberg was extremely disappointing in this movie. I have a hard time believing that he “actually” directed this movie and didn’t simply sign his name to the movie and directed it in abstention.

I know that a lot of people complain about directors taking liberty with the story line of a book, so at some level this rant might be an old rant. But I just went to the movie “Ready Player One” with my 12-year old son and even he was disappointed in the movie.

Walking out of the movie I asked him “So, what did you think?”

“I don’t know.” which is his typical first response when he wants to think about the question. Knowing this, I just waited to hear what he had to say before providing my opinion. “Where were the gates? I mean, that was a big part of the book. And that wasn’t how Parzival found the first key. What was that about? And Art3mis and Parzival don’t meet in real lif (IRL) until the end of the book. Why did they rush that?”

The onslaught of inconsistencies between the movie and the book just came coming. Given that he is 12, he almost immediately communicated to his friends that he saw the movie. Later that evening as we were sitting down for his “second dinner” (he is growing like a weed) he said, “I thought maybe if I hadn’t read the book that I might have thought that it was a good movie, but a friend of mine who didn’t read the book also thought that it was a bad movie. He thought that the love story was rushed …” (which it was) “and that the story line was rushed”. Which it also was.

I remember a similar thing happening with my daughter (who is now 17) when we watched the movie “James and the Giant Peach” after reading the book. However, the complaint was much different. She was a bit younger (probably closer to 8) but her complaint was that the movie was missing her favorite scene from the book. “Dad, where were the cloud giants? That was the best part of the book.” At that time I explained to my daughter that it can be difficult to “cram” all of the items from a book into a movie and so there can be a need to remove some of the scenes. Although I agreed that there were a lot of other scenes that could have went, sometimes these things are a matter of opinion and the director gets/needs to make some difficult decisions. However, removing some scenes is VERY different than effectively changing the entire story line. For example, one of my major gripes was that a major part of the book was that Parzival creates a plan to take down the shield by becoming an indentured with the IOI. In the book, this was a major part of the story line. Parzival was willing to sacrifice himself for the Oasis. A bit of a “Christ” reference for the storyline. However, in the movie, Art3mis is the one who ends up in the IOI. “What!!??”

Spielberg has been an amazing director and has influenced my life a great deal through his movies. However, I wonder if he directed this movie in abstention. That Spielberg simply put his name on the movie but really didn’t put his mind or soul into it. If so, it is disappointing. I was looking forward to having a “Star Wars” moment with my son and this movie completely missed it. Although my son and I weren’t able to have a “Star Wars” movie moment, we sure did enjoy experiencing the story line of the book.