If you’ve read Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One then you know it is jam packed full of nostalgic Easter Eggs from the 80s and 90s. You’ll also know that most of those are part of the story – the pop culture references are important to Wade Watts’ quest to solving James Halliday’s puzzles. And they were important to that quest because Halliday grew up in that era, so he designed the fictional Oasis with the deliberate intent of glorifying his favorite geek properties.
So when the first trailer dropped for Ready Player One, it was naturally filled with tons of nostalgia of its own. Some were worried that the movie would be nothing but references thrown at the audience for two hours. Zak Penn, who helped write the script with author Ernest Cline, talked to CinemaBlend about the concerns:
“I think I tweeted something to the effect of, if you think Steven Spielberg is going to make a movie that just fires a string of references at you, you must not have seen his films. I mean, I wouldn’t write that either, but the idea that Steven would direct a movie like that seems insane. It’s not like there’s not a story in the book. There’s a clear story and there’s characters. Yes, at times Ernie goes on with his references because he likes to because it’s a book and it’s his right to. We were never going to have Wade read off a string of references or walk through the entire movie WarGames. Nor did Ernie want us to.”
Other criticisms from people (my video game obsessed brother included) were about the abundance of Overwatch characters seen in the trailer. Are the references so shallow that it will throw a bunch of characters from the same video game at us and nothing else? Penn clears that up too:
“I obviously, given my age and the stuff that I do, I get all of the references and they’re cool to me. But I never thought that the movie would live or die on its references. Even now when I read fans who are like ‘Oh is it just gonna be a bunch of characters from Overwatch?’ They just happen to be in the trailer. They’re just background. It’s just that everyone in the background happens to be either a created character or a licensed character.”
I am glad that we didn’t see every reference in the trailer, that would spoil the fun of experiencing the movie which comes out in a few days- and is already garnering some great critical praise. I trust in Spielberg (when he isn’t making asinine comments about Netflix Movies), and knew he’d give us a fun ride. I hope these comments from Penn clear up things for people who were a little less comfortable.
What reference from the book are you hoping made it in to the movie?