This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Joe’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I went into this movie wanting to see everything from the book come alive on the big screen, which did not happen. Instead, it was replaced with different-ish challenges, and not a ton of exploration of various parts of the plot.
I'm not sure of my rating, and I'm using this as a way to dissect what I actually thought about the movie.
Let's move into the major parts of the story.
THE COPPER KEY
In the book, this was achieved by defeating an AI on the planet full of schools in a game of Joust. While I understand that a racing sequence is a much safer option to entertain the movie-goer, I did not like this change. The entire point of the book's Copper Key was to be readily available to the entirety of the OASIS users, even the kids that were going to school. Also, I reject the idea of movie Halliday just spoon-feeding where the first key is located (at the end of that race). It's an Easter Egg ffs, it's supposed to be HIDDEN.
THE FIRST GATE & THE JADE KEY
The Gate's challenges would have been hard to make interesting, so I have no problem with their exclusion.
While the book created the world of Zork, the movie decides to go the route of recreating the world of The Shining. A major part of Halliday's life was Kira, whom he lost to Ogden, which was the central theme of this challenge. So I'm happy with this change, and I thought it fit in very well.
The book uses Wade as a willing infiltrator, and he obtains TEN ZETTABYTES of data on IOI, which is used at the end to put Sorrento away. So, if in the movie they didn't get all this information (because Samantha was forced to be an indentured servant, and it wasn't planned in advance), how did Sorrento get put away? By a recording within Aech's workshop. That feels too easy to me, but I can't hate on it too much. Wade's plan to infiltrate IOI was painstakingly complicated, and involved a ton of memorization and practice, which would not have been that fun to watch as a movie-goer.
Also, Samantha ends up being the insider that destroys the shield, and I felt like her entire sequence acting as a Sixer was believable for their world. So it was an alright change.
THE SECOND GATE & THE CRYSTAL KEY
The book made the 'challenge' of figuring out how to complete the Easter Egg much more intricate, and I feel like it would not have been that hard to show the process the High Five in the book went through. I would have liked to see it come alive, but whatever. At least they preserved the very FINAL challenge.
How the fuck did they find each other....
So far, to me, it seems like Spielberg did an alright job translating this story to the big screen. Even while only hitting the MAJOR parts of the story, compressing a lot of exposition into the very beginning of the movie, and having to reimagine painstakingly long challenges, this movie still hits 2 hours 19 minutes. That's pretty long. I'm no filmmaker, so I don't know which parts should have been added or removed or worked out a different way, but what I do know is that although the visuals were stunning, this movie lacked substance. Even with the extremes of the OASIS being portrayed on screen, it just felt like not enough of the world is shown or explained.
But the OASIS is literally an entire world. Actually, several worlds. It's more of a universe. Also, I probably only feel this way because I KNOW what the book did.
So fuck the book, this standalone movie was alright. The dialogue was forgettable, and the interactions between characters (especially Wade and Samantha's 'romance') were just... not there. Although it did not provide a ton of motivation towards characters' actions, it still felt good. It's sort of like a movie based on Cliffs Notes.