A short review of the Ready Player One (2018) movie.
There is a key scene in Ready Player One (2018), where Wade is talking to Sorrento, the corporate suit who is mouthing John Hughes pop culture references being fed to him by his support team. That scene basically encapsulates this entire movie. Because the movie is basically a corporation pretending to understand a particular subculture without actually caring.
There is another key scene that illustrates this. Parzival is getting ready to go dancing with Art3mis. He tries on various outfits, settling on Buckaroo Banzai. Wow, what an obscure reference! And it’s in the book! What a gift to fans! Except … they get it wrong. (For details on how they get it wrong, see Appendix 1.)
So in the movie, Parzival wears an outfit that Banzai never wears in the movie, with a button that he never wears, using a blank white circle instead of the actual logo, and Art3mis recognizes him instantly.
Recognizes him instantly in a movie based on a book that is all about getting your references not just close, but perfect.
Basically, Wade shows up looking like he googled Buckaroo Banzai and didn’t even bother to perfectly match the outfit that came up on screen. And Art3mis thinks it’s great.
Which is not how it would work according to the rules of the movie and the book. Which is what you do if you want to pretend that you care about fandom, but actually don’t. And so the entire movie is a flattened-out, “will it play in Peoria” generic mess. Aech being a lesbian? Gone. Art3mis being rubenesque? Gone. IOI wanting to take away the total anonymity that the OASIS currently provides? Gone. Wade’s atheism? Gone. Arcade video games? Gone. Instead… a car race. Instead… Halliday saying he doesn’t like rules, which he never, ever, in a million years would have said. Halliday’s entire life is about rules. He loves rules.
Ready Player One (2018): Not Recommended.
You have to understand the level of detail I’m about to provide is not because having some perfect fan recall is a sign of superiority or it’s my way to win this review, it’s because in the context of the book, having perfect pop culture recall (of a very specific set of content) is what Halliday requires.
(Admittedly, in the context of the movie, it becomes clear that what is important for winning the contest is mostly understanding Halliday’s life experiences and preferences, understanding Halliday as a person, a concept that incidentally would have horrified book-Halliday. But it is still the case in the movie that gunters compete with each other on the basis of exact knowledge of what Halliday likes.)
Parzival’s dance outfit is a grey suit with a purple medium-width tie and a white Team Banzai button on the lapel. Which Art3mis instantly recognizes when she sees him.
Except it’s wrong. In multiple ways. It’s terrible cosplay.
In the movie, Buckaroo Banzai wears bow ties. Bow ties only. Ernest Cline knows this perfectly well, and has him wearing a bow tie in the book, where Parzival puts on: “a light gray suit, exactly like the one Peter Weller wore in Buckaroo Banzai, complete with a red bow tie”.
(We could have a side argument about the red bow tie, since Banzai only wears it in the end credits, and I think a much more resonant and recognizable outfit would be the checked suit Banzai wears when he is performing with the Hong Kong Cavaliers and Penny Pretty is in the audience, but nevertheless, a red bow tie is reasonable Canon.)
Plus which, Team Banzai has a logo. In fact it has three logos: a winged double-B, a double-B in a circle, and the actual Team Banzai logo, which has red and orange stripes with a central yellow stripe.
And Buckaroo Banzai never wears the Team Banzai logo on a suit lapel in the movie anyway, because why would he, he’s Buckaroo Banzai. He does wear a stripey logo patch on his jetcar outfit, which makes sense since the car is also covered with logos and branding.
So how do we end up with this? On an old VHS cover (yes, I have the VHS) Banzai wears an outfit that isn’t in the movie, a heavy leather jacket with a tshirt (I don’t think in-movie Banzai would ever wear a tshirt). On the Special Edition DVD (yes, I also have the Special Edition DVD) he wears his Hong Kong Cavaliers outfit, although the light blue checked suit looks a bit green.
Where does he wear a grey suit and purple tie? Well, if you Google Image Search Buckaroo Banzai, or you Wikipedia The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, you get top hits of the original movie release poster, which has him in… a grey suit and wide purple tie, with a black and red Team Banzai button.
So let me get this straight, you made a $175 million dollar movie about fandom, and you can’t be bothered to get the details right? What does it cost you to get the details right?
Why would Parzival use the movie poster art? With the button changed from black to white? I just don’t buy it. Plus which it’s very clear you need to know the contents of the movies themselves, the book never mentions the movie posters.
August 28, 2016 Ready Player One movie Art3mis casting