Released 03/29/2018 Rated: PG-13
Teaser trailer came out. I had never heard anything about this title in my life, but I was like “this movie’s going to be awesome!” Read the book. Fell in love with it from the word go. Couldn’t wait for the film to come out. Saw the movie. Mixed feelings.
I’d heard beforehand that they’d deviated a bit from the book. Let’s be real here, they deviated almost completely from the book. I’m not mad about that. You can have a good film adaptation of a book that has altered the material; it’s been done before i.e. Jurassic Park, and Scott Pilgrim. I just didn’t like what the movie gave me. The fundamental set up wasn’t well done, certain key elements weren’t properly explained, and the story didn’t flow. Actually I felt like the plot was a bit of a vague mess. My husband thinks I’m crazy, as does my friend who also read this book but didn’t like it, but whatever, y’all. 🙂
I never truly felt the urgency to complete Anorak’s Quest. Never got the sense that time was running out, or that the fate of the OASIS rested in the outcome of the race. IOI and the Sixers wanted to win, but why? No one talked about the changes IOI intended for the OASIS once they won or how it would affect the world. The OASIS isn’t just a place for people to escape reality, it has become a way of life. Kids go to school and people go to work through the OASIS, and I would have liked that side to be represented.
For that matter, the film didn’t really focus on the brain-busters that should have been the clues to finding the three keys, but that’s a small gripe I’m willing to let go. This movie should have been a race to solve the puzzles and complete the tasks steeped in 80’s pop culture to win the ultimate prize. Instead we were given a reference-laden action/adventure where the rules weren’t fully explained.
So the race to win Anorak’s Quest explodes once the announcement is made. Everybody and their mother becomes obsessed with breaking the first riddle to try to find the first key. But five years later, when the movie starts, the hype has died down considerably. Most OASIS players have gone back to their normal lives; they don’t really care anymore. The people still searching for the keys are the Gunters (egg hunters), people like Art3mis and Parzival who have made this hunt their life. Art3mis is probably the most famous Gunter blogging about her search and breakdowns of pop culture. Meanwhile Parzival doesn’t have the money to get off of Ludus (the school planet) but has made a hard copy of Anorak’s Almanac and has done extensive research on anything Halliday ever liked. I guess in the film they turned the almanac into Anorak’s virtual archives, but that focused more on Halliday’s life than 80’s pop culture… Obviously I didn’t feel it. Especially when Parzival hears Halliday say something to the effect of “wish we could go backwards,” and that’s how he gets the idea to run the race backwards in order to beat it. That just felt lazy.
Unfortunately I felt like this throughout most of the film. They didn’t really let us into the world too much to let us experience it. Yes, visually, I was immersed in this world, but that’s as far as it went. We weren’t allowed to fully grasp the environment and understand it. On top of that, I felt like I was told everything important, and that bugged me. The exception to this was certain terms that should have been defined for people who hadn’t read the book: Gunter, Sixer, the High Five, etc. These terms only confuse your audience when not properly explained, and they weren’t! The connections from Point A to Point B were complete leaps of logic that seemed to come out of nowhere and took me out of the movie. Even the synopsis on Wikipedia doesn’t flow, and I reread that to make sure I wasn’t just projecting because I loved the book so much.
I enjoyed the references and the CGI, but that’s it. Unfortunately, some of the included references were difficult to make out as there’s so much going on at times on screen; not all of them were as outstanding as Rexy or King Kong. Not even the full immersion into The Shining was enough to make me like this film any more. I hate that I was disappointed.