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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

‘Ready Player One’: Read the book, too

So far, it looks as if the movie openings I posted below are good (though I'll continue to update). One addition, though.

On Wednesday, March 28, expect one of the year's most eagerly anticipated — at least for the nerds among us — films: Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Ernest Cline's sci-fi novel "Ready Player One."

If you haven't read the book, which came out in 2011, you should know that it is set in the year 2044 — in a world so wretchedly split between the haves and have-nots that the best escape is into the virtual world of the OASIS. Inside the online environment, pretty much everyone can live out their dreams — be who they want and do what they can't in the physical world.

When the OASIS creator dies, and announces that he has set up a competition with OASIS itself as the ultimate prize, our teenage protagonist — Wade Watts — becomes one of the many players trying to win. And through both pluck and ability, not to mention with the help of a few online pals, he just might succeed in navigating the virtual world's 1980s-trivia-obsessed obstacles.

Here are some of the critical comments regarding Cline's book:

Janet Maslin, New York Times: "(I)f they are capable of arguing endlessly about 'Star Wars' trivia, they’re also living in a 27-sector virtual-reality world arranged like a Rubik’s Cube and where the 'Star Wars' and 'Star Trek' realms are right next door to each other."

Michael Schaub, National Public Radio: " 'Ready Player One' is ridiculously fun and large-hearted, and you don't have to remember the Reagan administration to love it. (Though depending on your age, you might want to keep Wikipedia open so you can decipher the references to Oingo Boingo, 'Real Genius' and 'Max Headroom.')"

But, of course, there also were the haters:

Sonny Bunch, Washington Post: "(E)ntertaining but aggressively empty of anything approaching substance. … less a novel than a series of pop culture references glommed onto a thinly sketched out version of the monomyth."

Given that Spielberg's attempts to adapt novels can miss as well as they can hit, it's probably best to approach his interpretation of "Ready Player One" with caution.

It's hard, though, not to feel just a tad excited.