Jared’s review published on Letterboxd:
I think everyone has their own attitude towards geek culture nowadays, ranging from the celebration of it to absolute hatred toward it. And seeing as it's most toxic elements have been amplified in recent years especially, I understand the naysayers. But in my own story, geek culture has been nothing but beneficial. Most of my friendships have been founded on shared interests, largely geek-related. Video games, movies, and comics have always acted as a reliable, consistently meaningful escape for me from real-life issues. Even my career path, comp sci, was discovered through immersion in these things. I've been served well by these indulgences; I've benefited from a sustained and personal love for so many different stories.
And so, Spielberg's Ready Player One struck a chord with me. Without ignoring the toxicity embedded so deep in the geek community, the film celebrates what once stood at the center of this movement, and what largely still does. Inclusion, empowerment, and community; the ability to love the things you love to whatever end without shame or ridicule. While the movie is messy and predictable, that singular Spielbergian compassion rings the truest. Like Charlie's journey through Wonka's chocolate shop, Ready Player One is about a creator trusting his creation to a successor, striving to find someone better than himself to take that throne. It's a test of virtue, emotional strengths and selflessness; an exploration of an individual's own regrets and weaknesses in pursuit of a better path forward. One built on those three key elements; inclusion, empowerment, and community.
It's all very cheesy and overflowing with forced nostalgia, but it sure as hell worked on me. There is lots to dig into here, also, beyond what I intially got from it. Nostalgia as a prison. Pop culture as a language. And I think an objective examiner would see it as either masturbatory or just plain awful. It's probably both. But there are two truths I cannot get around when gauging how I feel about this. The first, that it was crafted by one of the greatest directors of all time. Spielberg is a master, and even a flawed effort like this still felt more impassioned and inspired than most other fantasy/adventures out there. And the second, this being the most important, the fact that I'm sort of the target audience for this. Feels like a personal movie to my own experiences, and I'm not too keen to convince myself otherwise. I dug it. I really dug it. Many won't, that's fine. Life is too stressful and short for me to not want to like any new Spielberg.
Question is, do I read the book?