READY PLAYER ONE & SOME THOUGHTS ON MEDIUM

Dear Reader,

This morning I watched the trailer for Ready Player One and I got chills. The story is about a boy living in a world that exists primarily online–in The Oasis–rather than in reality.

I listened to this book during the spring semester of my sophomore year and was obsessed. It began during my workouts–to motivate me to spend more than just twenty minutes on the elliptical–but I ended up playing it constantly. I had it going as I walked to class, as I did my laundry, even as I worked on my Big/Little reveal shirt in our suite, while in the company of others. One time I found myself at work much too early, so I took a few laps around the library and continued listening to the story. I laughed out loud at times, and even gasped when they mentioned Hamilton, Ohio–a town I visited almost weekly while on campus.

The story was so captivating and thought-provoking, and by listening to it, I really saw it play out like a movie in my head. So you can imagine my extreme excitement when I happened upon the trailer this morning.

Like I said–chills. I think this story could be beautifully translated into a movie. I think a lot of stories could. It all felt so real and magical in my head, but seeing the Oasis and the adventure on the big screen could be truly amazing. I mean, we have so much at our disposal to make these sci-fi and fantasy stories come to life. It worked well with Harry Potter–YEARS ago–and with Fantastic Beasts, we were shown how much more can be done to tell the story now. And tell it in a way that does the original work justice. Perhaps tell it in a way that it was meant to be told.

This got me thinking about medium. Again, I just recently mentioned Edgar Wright popping up on the screen before Baby Driver began and thanking the audience for coming to see his creation–the work that he wrote and directed–in it’s intended form. He was talking about coming to the theater, of course, but it also spoke about the medium he chose. Baby Driver had a great storyline with vibrant characters and could be made into a play or a novel or even a cartoon, but it excelled as a live-action movie. And maybe Wright can’t draw or chose against a novel because he wanted the audience to hear the music (which is integral to the story and the experience), but this story that only existed in his head, he had to get out in some form. This form was cinema, and it worked beautifully. And I don’t think it’d be the same in any other form.

Still, going back to Harry Potter, some books excel on the big screen. And some certainly don’t–I’m looking at you, Eragon and Percy Jackson. So whenever I see that a favorite book of mine is being adapted into a movie, I’m first excited because I think of all the possible routes they might take, but I’m also worried that they’re going to screw everything up.

But people are always going to make books into movies and classics into graphic novels and stories into musicals and so on and so on and so on. One of my favorite books, Noughts and Crosses, was made into a graphic novel and is supposedly being turned into a show on the BBC. Another favorite, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, already exists as a novel and a movie and is currently being adapted into a musical–starring the understudy for Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen (I took quite a winding road when I discovered that one night).

It’s just interesting to think about the way the artist intended to share their story. Take Shakespeare–all of his plays were meant to be performed live and watched by crowds of people who experienced the story together. Now his work has been adapted into movies and graphic novels and is most often read–even further, dissected–by high school- and college-aged kids across the country.

I like that, though–that variety. I do like consuming art the way it was intended, but I also like seeing the different elements that each medium can add to a story. Even listening to a book vs. reading it can evoke different emotions or mean more or less to different people. When a story is great, I’m always interested in seeing all the different ways it can be told–even if I end up liking one significantly more than the other, which is often the case. Warm Bodies is better as a book, Thirteen Reasons Why is better as a TV show (though still not a favorite), Newsies is better as a movie, and Hamilton works best as a musical–which might be most surprising (yet most agreed-upon) of all. But I’ll still test each one out so I can experience the story in new ways and come to my own conclusion, really finding out what resonates with me–and then I can talk to people who have very different opinions and learn even more.

I still need to read the books of movies I love like Catch Me If You Can and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I still need to read Game of Thrones and Valerian before seeing them on screen. And maybe one day I’ll watch Shrek: The Musical on Netflix, since I love the movie so much. (I’ve heard the musical really isn’t that bad, but I want to come to my own conclusion.)

So I’m excited to see Ready Player One in theaters. I’m also excited for when Crazy Rich Asians comes out, and if they ever decide to turn The Night Circus into a movie or Netflix series, the first emotion I’ll feel will certainly be excitement as my mind reels with the possibilities.

But if they ever made Bojack Horseman–a show I love dearly–into a live-action film, I would want no part in it.

There’s a line, I think. And some things just wouldn’t work.

(But maybe I’m wrong.)

Sincerely,

Sammy

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4 thoughts on “READY PLAYER ONE & SOME THOUGHTS ON MEDIUM

  1. Lauren @ BAOTB says:

    “Ready Player One” is one of my favorite books. I watched the trailer and my friends and I seem to have had the opposite reaction to what you did: we were horrified. We all want it to be good, but it feels more like a shoot-’em-up than what the book wanted to convey. I want to be optimistic about this, but I’ve seen so many good books be mangled by Hollywood.

    This book could be made into a really great movie, IF the director sticks to the source material and doesn’t try to make it too flashy. The main character being attractive already is what’s causing the majority of the grumblings. I know you’ve gotta have some eye-candy on screen or else people aren’t going to go see your movie, but the whole point is that the main character isn’t attractive and isn’t your stereotypical “hero” looking person.

    I want this to be a great movie, but I’m also pretty sure it’s not going to be. I’m afraid of seeing it, but I know I’ll probably be going opening day (as long as my sister’s still working at the theater so I can get in free!).

    • sincerelysammy says:

      Those are some really good points–and I definitely share that fear that Hollywood is going to screw it up. Like I said, I read the book over a year ago but when I saw the trailer, one of the first thoughts I had was “wait wasn’t he not supposed to be attractive?” I’m not surprised that Hollywood did this, even though it’s stupid. The whole point is that their avatars can look like anything they want them to look like–so they easily could have cast two different actors to play each main character. But it seems they just slapped a pair of glasses on the main actor and said “see! he’s not hot–he’s nerdy looking!”

      But the reason I think (hope) it will be a good movie is because of Steven Spielberg and all of the easter eggs. The part that gave me chills was when he first entered that giant room and people were spinning and dancing in the air above him as a REALLY moving rendition of “Pure Imagination” played. Then, after I watched it, I clicked on a video naming all of the easter eggs. Even though I missed almost all of them (no points for spotting The Iron Giant), I was so happy to learn how much was included–how much thought was put into this. And Wade was so obsessed with the easter eggs in the game and knew so much about all of these things he loved, I think the movie will do him justice in that sense.

      But you’re right, it might fall short, which would be a true shame because it’s such a great novel. If anything, I can see it being like when they did Great Gatsby–great music, great production value and beautiful scenery, but still falls flat. It’ll take more than an amazing score and hidden gems to do the story justice. And I definitely agree that the first trailer isn’t enough to convince me that Hollywood isn’t going to screw this up. After all, I loved the Suicide Squad trailer–I got so hype every time I saw it before movies and would lean over to my friends and say “we NEED to see that when it comes out.” And I think we can all agree that that was a damn travesty.

      Maybe I’m just not learning the lesson from these experiences and am too naive to believe from the get-go that they’ve ruined this story. You might be a bit wiser than me, but I really hope you’re wrong. And I think you hope that too. Ernest Cline and the world and the people he created deserve better.

      • Lauren @ BAOTB says:

        see, “Great Gatsby” to me was an absolute flop because of the music. It’s one of my favorite classics, but I cringed so much throughout the entire movie that I couldn’t pay attention to anything that was going on. The 20s was such a rich age for music, and they completely destroyed that by going with classless music from this era.

        The second I saw the Suicide Squad trailer, I knew it was going to be bad. There was no way a movie could be good after that wreck of a trailer. I still haven’t seen the movie, and all of my friends are saying, “Good for you!” Just like I haven’t seen Batman vs. Superman. The trailers are things that I’m usually good at picking up whether things are going to be good or bad. And I have a sinking feeling about RPO.

        I’ve just given up on having my favorite books have good movies. The Book Thief, Eragon, Percy Jackson, etc., they’ve all fallen flat. (especially Eragon. Geez.) Game of Thrones, while having some astounding production teams, is so bad (to me) that I can’t bring myself to watch more than just the first season.

        I’m hoping against hope that this movie turns out to actually be good, but the track record that Hollywood’s had with my favorite books has been relatively terrible.

      • sincerelysammy says:

        (Sorry I’m really bad at checking my blog so I totally missed your reply!)

        Wow, I wish I had your skill of telling if a movie is going to be good based on the trailer–honestly! I love most trailers I see instantly, and then sometimes I’ll watch the movie and it’ll be terrible so I’ll go back to the trailer and just shake my head–allthewhile marveling at the editors for convincing me that this movie was going to be great. Though (as I’ve made painfully clear), it doesn’t take much to convince me.

        But, if it’s any condolence, I will say one last thing. When I watched the trailer with my mom (who grew up during the 80s), she gasped and then laughed, clapping her hands together, as soon as she heard “Tom Sawyer” by Rush begin. I think Spielberg & the rest of the team will do a good job of incorporating the 80s–from the music to the movie references to everything else pop culture–if for no other reason than BECAUSE it’s so integral to the story and main character. So if one major disappointment during the Great Gatsby was the modernization of the music and the total overlook of the time period, mayyybe this will be one redeeming factor for RPO.

        Also, oh my GOD I forgot about how they butchered The Book Thief. But yes, I definitely see your point. All of those examples you mentioned belong in the hall-of-fame of Hollywood’s Adaptation Screw Ups. I’ll still hold out hope, of course, but I really enjoy hearing your point of view on this subject. I hope we can have another discussion once the movie comes out! I’ll be seeing it regardless, and I hope you still have an “in” at the theater so you can get in for free. 🙂 (I had a lot of friends who worked at our movie theater in high school and that’s how I got away with never having to pay for a movie. In fact, that’s how I saw Suicide Squad for free. And you’re right to skip out on that one–it might not’ve been a waste of money for me but it surely was a waste of my time.)

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