Deadpool 2

Deadpool’s second movie is every bit as good as the first, with the same mix of hilarity and heart-wrenching pain. Everyone from the first movie is back, and there’s a ton of new characters along for the ride. There’s plenty of mutie cameos and team-building exercises that don’t go quite as planned, but that’s what happens when Deadpool’s the one holding the reins.

The most anticipated face on the screen is Cable. After years of fighting with Deadpool, how could he not be? Josh Brolin plays the curmudgeon from the future well, but Cable is a dressed down version for the film. He’s powered more by tech than his mutant abilities, but that’s understandable with his complicated history. He’d need his own movie to explore his full background as the son of Cyclops and Phoenix sent to the future to be cured of the techno virus ravaging his body. Still, it would have been nice to see some psychic powers thrown around, especially when he uses them to pop Deadpool like a piñata.

You can’t have Cable show up without X-Force, but we see what happens when Deadpool’s the one leading them instead of Cable. Their best gal Domino sticks around though, and it’s great to see the role filled with a diverse choice in casting. I love Domino’s afro. Negasonic Teenage Warhead’s got the goth look covered, so the reverse look of a white eye on dark skin is refreshing. And watching her luck powers play out with a higher effects budget makes for some good fun.

I could go on about the characters for a while, but the last one I’ll mention is definitely the best. Julian Dennison plays Russell (aka Firefist), a troubled teen who Deadpool struggles to help as he navigates his new lot in life. If you haven’t seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople, you should. I’m not surprised Dennison was chosen for this complex role. He’s hilarious when he needs to be and vastly sympathetic for a villain in the making. In Deadpool 2, he gets to explore a mean side that could turn into something really nasty if the flames are fanned.

In addition to the new faces, Deadpool gets to try on a few team outfits and sport his Hawaiian shirts during downtime. His most relaxed moment in the movie is the closest we’ll get to one of my favorite costume changes from Cable & Deadpool when he dons the classic Phoenix outfit.

As fun as it is to see Deadpool forming a team, the one thing that didn’t quite work was his crossed fists for X-Force, but I’m guessing the movie was being filmed around the same time as Black Panther. Who knew the Wakanda-forever sign was going to catch on in such a way? Next time, fingertips out!

One easter egg from the comic that was a nice surprise had to do with Deadpool’s color change when he was really trying to do some good. Thanks to an explosion, he completely turns gray from the ash. During the entire scene, I couldn’t help but think of Zenpool from issues 36-38 in the Deadpool 2012 run. He might not have been wearing the beads and hood onscreen, but he makes the same major shift in character, however short-lived the moment might be.

If you liked the first Deadpool movie, the second is just as good, if not better in some ways. And do yourself a favor and stay for the credits, if only to hear the choir belting out “Holy shitballs!” which isn’t as noticeable during the loud showdown with the Juggernaut. You can also find it on the soundtrack. Vulgar choral chanting holds a special place in my heart, and it fits the moment well. Cue the big CGI fight scene!

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

My son’s elementary school recently read the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, so I decided to read along with him. He’d become obsessed with the story and movie a couple of years ago, but it seemed as good a time as any to review the various treatments of the original book. The movie is a classic and hasn’t been improved upon in almost eighty years, but there are still some things I would like to see that aren’t included. I’m not a fan of Wicked or any of the other productions that have come out over the years. The most successful retelling I’ve seen is the first installment of Marvel’s ongoing Oz project to convert all the Baum books into comic form. There was no way my son would sit for the three-hundred-page original, but the Marvel graphic novel made for some great reading time together.

Marvel’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz stays true to the original novel in a way that most movies can’t because of their limited time. It captures the rich visual world that the movie provides, but the art style offers more grit, which there is plenty of in the darker parts of the book. Unlike the movie, Dorothy isn’t in a dream. She is whisked away to a land full of wickedness and thrust directly into the power struggle between its heads of states when she unwittingly lands on one of them with her house.

A Larger World

There are so many unique differences between the movie and the book that I could go on for pages, but I’ll only identify some of the more interesting points here. And that’s the main thing to keep in mind: the land of Oz is huge. The movie simply doesn’t have time to cover it all, even though it makes an effort through its elaborate sets and backdrops. Just look at the yellow brick road.

While the movie might show Dorothy and friends hampered by the occasional fighting tree or field of poppies, the road largely stays intact. But there are parts of it that are fully broken, and her friends must put their individual strengths to use in order to continue on. The erosion of the road suggests both how old the land is and also the kind of disrepair it has fallen into thanks to the ongoing tyranny in the East and the West.

The movie casts the Wicked Witch of the West as the one main villain, as if she’s managed to claim dominion over the whole land of Oz, but she only has power in her own realm. Glinda even says so to her face when she first shows up in Munchkin Land. And speaking of Glinda, there’s never a mention of the Good Witch of the South, which is who Glinda is in the book. It’s the kindly old Good Witch of the North who greets Dorothy initially. She tells Dorothy what kind of a mess she’s landed herself in and offers her protection against the trials she and her friends will face.

Character Depth

There’s much more to all of the characters in the book, but the most notable are Oz and the Cowardly Lion. The movie paints the lion as a literal coward riddled with anxiety who runs away from danger (even leaping through windows when given the chance), but he’s actually quite fearsome and his cowardice more nuanced, almost in modern therapeutic parlance. He’s afraid for anyone to get close to him, so he pushes them away with extreme acts of aggression.

The Great and Powerful Oz turns out to be much more menacing in his aspirations when he enlists Dorothy’s friends to kill the Wicked Witch of the West. He also takes many forms, each one tailored to the personality of Dorothy and her friends.

His ruse is much more elaborate, and we come to see that this humbug from Nebraska has much more in common with Dorothy than a Midwestern upbringing. He landed in the same situation she did, but he accepted the role that was thrust upon him instead of staying true to himself.

Violence

Much of the darkness in the book comes from its violence. The friends in the movie always act in self-defense, whether they’re storming the castle or pitching buckets of water. The Wizard even arms Scarecrow with a gun, and he never fires it. Seriously! I completely forgot he’s packing heat when I watched it recently. He walks out of the Emerald City with a cane and a revolver.

The book has a penchant for beheadings, both literal and figurative. When defending themselves against the Wicked Witch or saving the beasts of the southern forest, the Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Woodsman behead a number of foes.

Dorothy is less formidable, but she removes heads of state. Her actions are noble though, because each time, she frees a nation from slavery. When she lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, she frees the Munchkins, and when she accidently kills the Wicked Witch of the West, she frees the Winkies and herself. Upon arrival to the castle, because Dorothy doesn’t understand that she’s more powerful than the Wicked Witch, the Witch manages to enslave her. It’s only after toiling away in the castle for a while that the Witch manages to push Dorothy too far by stealing one of her silver shoes (not ruby, even though that’s a much better color). Full of fury, Dorothy flings her bucket of mop water at the Witch. In the movie, she’s trying to save the Scarecrow, and there just happens to be a bucket in a window. Screaming “Give me back my shoe!” before dousing the Witch is much more pleasing and funny.

Journey Home

Killing the Witch and returning to the Emerald City is just the start of the second half of the book, but that’s where the movie ends. It completely leaves out the assumption to power of Dorothy’s friends. The Wizard does leave the Scarecrow in charge of the Emerald City, but the movie doesn’t show him assuming the throne, which is symbolic of continuing the role of the previous ruler by putting an actual scarecrow in place. The Tin Woodsman takes charge of the West and sits on the Witch’s throne. And the lion becomes the king of the forest in the South.

Dorothy finally figures out how to get home thanks to Glinda, but when she clicks her heels, she’s actually carried away. In three steps, the shoes fly her over the desert surrounding Oz and back to Kansas. They fall off her feet in midflight, but she lands just outside Uncle Henry’s rebuilt farm and sees Aunt Em in the distance.

I don’t know why the movie decided to make Dorothy’s adventure into a dream after a bump on the head, and it’s even stranger to see that insistence when the credits role. Everyone from Oz is only listed according to their Kansas counterpart with not even a slash to show the dual role. For one of the greatest American fantasies, that’s an odd move. It’s much more satisfying to think that Oz might be out there somewhere if you can find a way over the rainbow, though I’d go with a balloon over a tornado if I had a choice.

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Avengers: Infinity War

The newest Avengers movie made some incredible improvements on the original comics. It took moments from Infinity Gauntlet (1991) and Infinity (2013) and packed them into an updated version for the Marvel cinematic universe. While there were some panels I would have really liked to have seen in the movie, there were plenty that the film put to better use in much more impactful ways. Most of the adaptations I thought could have been better came from the newer storyline of Infinity, and the panels the film was determined to include that surprised me the most came from the much older Infinity Gauntlet. Those added nuances are what really pushed the film into something great.

If you’re thinking of reading Infinity War (1992) because that’s where the movie gets its name from, don’t. It’s just a rehash of Infinity Gauntlet, which came out the year before. Infinity War doesn’t make any improvements on the original, which is already tough to get through in its more expository sections. You’d be better off watching the second season of The Superhero Squad Show, the kids show Marvel put out a few years back.

Infinity Gauntlet (1991)

Infinity Gauntlet begins with Thanos in possession of all six stones. He’s talking with Mephisto (the Devil) about what actions he should take now that he’s a god. His main drive for possessing the stones in the first place is to woo Lady Death, who he has pledged his loyalty to but can’t seem to win over. In his efforts to impress her, he builds a giant monument to her, wipes out half of all life in the universe, tortures Nebula and several others for her amusement, stages a fight with the Avengers, and even brings another woman to life just to make her jealous.

The whole story plays out like an Olympian tragedy with gods arguing among one another, and in places, it reads almost as well as a bad translation of the Greek myths. If Thanos’s endless whining about Death not loving him doesn’t annoy you, the heroes’ continued bickering just might, but at least they’re funny. This is one thing the Infinity War movie does well—along with every other Marvel movie.

The warring begins after Thanos kills off half the universe and the heroes try to make sense of what’s going on. In addition to losing half their teammates, the balance of the universe is thrown off by Thanos’s unbridled destruction, and this somehow causes Earth’s orbit to change, in turn causing massive environmental disasters. The heroes have to deal with worldwide suffering while they put their army together to go and confront Thanos.

In the movie, Thanos only has two stones from the beginning and works toward the other four, and as Gamora explains, his driving force for doing this is to bring balance to the universe, not to win the heart of Lady Death, so the story structure is flipped. This insane idea of finding balance through death adds some humanity to Thanos and spares us from more of the busywork of the heroes saving citizens from floods and earthquakes. Though there was one comic panel in particular that I would have liked to have seen in the movie. A Trump hotel gets swept away in a massive tidal wave.

In the movie, Thanos makes much better use of the gems, and it’s cool to see each one light up, depending on what action he’s performing with the gauntlet. The reality gem in particular creates some very interesting scenes. What was petty torture in the original comic becomes absolute dark comedy when the Guardians of the Galaxy try to take him out, and the film uses the exact effect from the comic.

One of the smaller details from the comic that I was surprised the film stuck to involved Thor almost dying because he needed the strength of his weapon. This was a little odd since he’d declared his independence from the need of any weapon in his third movie Thor: Ragnarok, but it plays out in a really cool way with the help of Groot, who’s mainly an annoying teenager until this point.

In the comic, Thor is only the Norse god when he’s clutching his hammer, and he reverts to a man when he isn’t holding it. That’s one thing all the Thor movies have improved upon. He’s the god of thunder. Leave it at that and forget the secret identity. But in this moment from Infinity Gauntlet, when he reverts to Dr. Donald Blake, he loses access to the space-breathing spell that Dr. Strange had cast on him.

In the movie, Thor loses strength while helping the dwarf blacksmith Eitri draw energy from a star to make Storm Breaker. Groot sees how much he’s struggling, finally decides to be useful, and makes his own contribution to the only weapon that can bring down Thanos. Once it’s in Thor’s hand, he’s up and ready for a final showdown.

This is so much cooler than the weapon’s original creation, which occurs in The Mighty Thor, no. 338–39. This is when Thor comes across an equally worthy opponent named Beta Ray Bill, who’s lost his family and others of his kind and finds himself floating through space after being attacked. He takes Thor for one of the demons that attacked them, and while the two fight, he picks up Mjolnir to Thor’s surprise and actually becomes a sort of alien Thor. While more aliens definitely weren’t needed in the movie, it’s easy to see the connection between Eitri and Beta Ray Bill’s situations. And the comic’s creation of Storm Breaker is just a letdown. Thor brings Beta Ray Bill home to Asguard to meet his father and to ask for aid on Bill’s behalf. Odin says, “Hey, it’s nice to meet you. Here’s a new hammer just for you!” Storm Breaker is also much cooler as an axe in the movie.

Thor’s friend, the Hulk refuses to take part in the fighting in the movie after getting his butt handed to him in the opening scene. It’s a little odd to see the Hulk frightened of anyone, but after facing Thanos and his Black Order, it’s at least understandable. Watching Bruce Banner repeatedly struggle to wake up his inner green guy provides a new dimension for the onscreen character. In the comic, Hulk’s just pissed at the Avengers, but it only lasts for thirty seconds.

The last part of Infinity Gauntlet that might play out in the most interesting way in part 2 of the movie involves Nebula. The comic spends a lot of time showing her zombified form hobbling around while Thanos continues with his antics. He somehow thinks putting his own granddaughter (daughter in the movie) on the brink of death will somehow impress Lady Death, but it just seems to annoy her.

As the comic progresses and Thanos tires of his fight with the heroes, he finally takes on a truly omnipotent form and leaves his body. But he forgets to take the infinity gauntlet with him, so Nebula manages to hobble over and wrest it from his lifeless form. She immediately reverts to a healthier state and begins making her own infinity wishes, seeking to undo everything that Thanos has done with a snap of her fingers.

This part of the story has some interesting implications for the second part of the movie, especially since things don’t play out in quite the same way. But my guess is that Nebula’s going to have a bigger role than you might think if you haven’t read the comic. She’s pretty pissed when part 1 of the movie ends, but I don’t know if she’ll be able to get her hands on the gauntlet in quite the same way.

And when the movie does end, we see Thanos back on his home planet in a peaceful mood, just as he is in the comic. After his failed attempt at godhood, he’s going to be a farmer apparently. This is a bit too corny in the book, but I like the way it played out in the movie because he did find the peace he was looking for even though he leveled the most horrific costs on the universe that any villain has. In the comic, he seems to forget about all the murder and torture. “Oh well, no more power for me.” In the movie, you see that he understands how horrible the cost is, but he’s determined to inflict it on countless worlds and suffer the effects because he believes in his insane path. They don’t call him the Mad Titan for nothing.

Infinity (2013)

When I watched Infinity War, I was so glad to see that the Black Order was included. They were my favorite part of the more recent Infinity books. They looked just as awesome as the original art from the comic. Four of them stepped right off the page and burst onto the screen in the very opening of the movie.

Even though they’re terrifying in the movie, they manage to not be nearly as sinister as they are in the books. These are Thanos’s generals, and he sends them out to claim dominion over the various planets in the galaxy on his behalf. They act on their own, and each one of them conquers the territory they were sent to, except for Black Dwarf (but more on that later). In the movie, Proxima Midnight and Black Dwarf always work together for some reason, maybe a lack of time. And the Ebony Maw still preys on Dr. Strange, but not in the same way. Ebony Maw is like Tolkien’s Worm Tongue, but he possesses Dr. Strange like a demon and has to be exorcised like one. However, the way they dispatch with him in the movie is much more satisfying and fun.

Corvus Glave, the leader of the Black Order, also uses a terrible creature that is both assassin and spy. The outriders are invisible, and they sneak into the very bedchamber of Black Bolt, the king of the Inhumans. In the movie, they’re just snarling beasts at the gates of Wakanda.

After all the movies with massive armies fighting on the ground, I’m a little tired of the device. I can understand why the film wanted to use them on the ground in the battle for Wakanda, but sticking to the comic would have shown Black Panther in a much greater light.

In one of my favorite pages from Infinity, Black Panther launches the only successful defense against one of Thanos’s generals and sends him packing with his tail between his legs. Black Panther is the king of the City of the Dead, which is interesting given the love for death that the Black Order has. When he challenges Black Dwarf, he tells him that he’s going to really show him what death is. Even though Black Panther is pretty powerful on the screen, he doesn’t yet carry the same gravitas that he does in the comic universe.

The last thing that I was surprised not to see was a space battle, but I’m hoping that’s what’s coming next when Captain Marvel makes her way onto the screen. Plenty of the characters in the movie head into space, but there aren’t any armadas to be seen like there were in the Guardians movies. Each handful of heroes was on a small mission to retrieve an artifact or stop Thanos himself. Maybe in the second round, instead of seeing battles on the ground, we’ll see something closer to Marvel’s version of Star Wars. There are plenty of panels like this found in Infinity.

If you’re left wondering what the hell is going to happen after the gut-wrenching ending of the movie, you’re sure to find some ideas in the comics. I’m guessing, much like this first installment, part 2 will be even more impressive than we can hope.

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The Austere Academy

After viewing the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events, I couldn’t wait to see this new batch of episodes. The show has continued to improve upon the books with the help of Lemony Snicket himself, Daniel Handler. The first book of season 2, The Austere Academy, contains the most improvements of any of the books so far.

When I first read book 5 of the series, I found it a bit dull. While there are some subtle hints of changes coming, the story largely repeats the same devices from the previous four books, and on top of that, the Baudelaires have landed in their drabbest environment yet, a graveyard of a school with a focus on death. The only ray of light comes from the Baudelaires meeting the two remaining Quagmire triplets, but everything else they endure becomes part of the school’s monotonous routine. Part of the problem with reading this one comes from the device of using ridiculous routines to squeeze the energy from the orphans in hopes to cause them to fail out of the school in order for Count Olaf to become their guardian, but as Mr. Poe points out in the show, the whole endeavor is flawed.

As the first episodes of season 2begin, the first colorful improvement taps her way onto the screen. Carmelita Spats is just a black-and-white bully in the book, but in the show, she’s a terrifyingly cute girl with a pink dress and vibrant curls. She still gets the chants going in the lunch room and hurls the nonsensical “cake sniffers” insult at the orphans, but she’s become so much more. She’s the school cheerleader with the support of its tyrannical vice principal and later Count Olaf. While these things are all part of the book, they’re amped up along with everything else for the show. Carmelita’s crazy wide-eyed smiled alone is enough to make you uneasy, but she’s only one bright ingredient.

The best and brightest addition to the series is the librarian, Olivia Caliban, played by Sara Rue. In the book, the school’s library remains in the background for the Quagmire triplets to visit during some research, which they still do, but in the show, the library becomes a ray of light on a dim campus. Vice Principal Nero only allows the library to remain open for ten minutes a day, but even with such limited means, Olivia does everything she can to help the Baudelaires. Her presence is very similar to Justice Strauss in book 1, but instead of a motherly figure, Olivia is more like a cool aunt. She’s smart, sexy, and fun, and she doesn’t take any nonsense from Vice Principal Nero or Carmelita Spats. She’s one of the few characters who questions the system she finds herself in. That’s probably why she gets wrapped up in the secret organization fighting against Count Olaf, and I was very happy to see that her role continues in the episodes for book 6.

The spies have infiltrated the school lunchroom in an effort to get the book The Incomplete History of Secret Organizations into the hands of the Baudelaires, and once Count Olaf shows up, there’s even a rescue mission to save one of their operatives led by Lemony Snicket’s own brother Jacques Snicket, who’s played by Nathan Fillion. Their back and forth with Count Olaf’s team offers the series a much larger world than the paltry existence of the orphans that we get in the book, and it makes us question the narrator even more than we might in the book. Lemony definitely knows much more than he lets on. He mentions something about involvement with Count Olaf in the book and stops himself, but it is a very brief moment and not quite related to the current story.

And when Count Olaf does manage to weasel his way into Prufrock Preparatory, it takes him and his goons some effort. In the book, he just appears as he normally does, in a ridiculous costume some time after the children have noticed some mysterious figures lurking in the background in poor disguises that somehow work. He still replaces the gym teacher, but you get to see him put his dastardly plan into action. And when he does show up, he’s hilarious. He’s wearing a turban with fancy athletic shoes (high-top Adidas with wings no less), but he uses a thick Southern accent for some reason. In the book, I just assumed he went for some vague Middle Eastern impression, but the absurd combination of redneck swami pushes his antics to another level. And he’s definitely having to try a lot harder as these episodes roll on and more people become aware of his plans. You see him squirm quite a bit in this one, especially when the Baudelaires push Nero’s Olaf-detecting-computer right up to his face. He seems more human, even if he isn’t a very pleasant one.

Finally, there’s Vice Principal Nero, who comes across in quite the same way he does in the book, minus the pigtails, but Roger Bart plays him brilliantly. He’s creepy, egomaniacal, and he somehow makes the most annoying aspect of his character from the book into a funny characteristic, maybe because it’s played down. Nero’s habit of belittling the children by imitating them in a high-pitch voice went on a bit too long in the book, but onscreen, it’s just pathetic. That’s one word that definitely encapsulates Nero: pathetic. Just look at his bow strings! But with that goofy smile, you kind of love him and feel sorry for him at the same time, even though he’s a horrible person and you might like to break that violin over his head.

The culmination of all those characters first happens at the school’s pep rally, where we see the mascot of the school, which doesn’t exist in the book. With such a focus on death, and the motto Memento Mori (Remember You Will Die), there could be nothing more fitting than a dead skeletal horse. It comes onto the stage to the chant led by Carmelita, “Who can’t be beat? A dead horse,” and the men inside are promptly kicked over by the red-haired little imp right before Count Olaf bursts onto the stage.

The plans Olaf carries out are very much the same, and the children suffer the same indignities as they do in the book while they try to formulate their own plan, but the repetitive elements have been minimized for the show to make room for the added brightness. Anyone who hasn’t read the books can very much enjoy the show, and if you’re still interested in reading it, book 5 is still pretty good. But the two-part episode is like a black-and-white photo that’s had some colors added for maximum effect. Its gloom has been stylized so that the camp and horror come at you all at once, like a smile from Carmelita.

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Ready Player One

From the first pages of Ready Player One, when James Halliday’s will is explained, it’s pretty clear that the entire book is a digital treatment of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, only the candy is videogames and eighties pop-culture nostalgia. When I saw one of the final trailers for the Ready Player One movie and heard a cover of “Pure Imagination” playing, I wondered just how much the movie was going to delve into the Roald Dahl theme. Like the book, the connections to Willy Wonka in the movie Ready Player One are there, but they aren’t pronounced. Like Charlie, Wade finds himself among rich snobs that think they can buy their way through the challenges, only these snobs have guns and bombs and are incorporated into a monopoly, and the stakes are much higher. Whoever wins gains control of the entire internet, which makes a chocolate factory, no matter how fantastical, look like a waxy little Milk Dud by comparison.

Overall, the movie is enjoyable and hits many of the same notes from the book, but there were some things that didn’t quite translate as well. With all of the pop culture references, I knew many of the adaptations would rely purely on licensing. There are plenty of them throughout, enough to do some searching with the screen paused, but I was a little surprised to see how much Back to the Future dominated Wade’s arsenal. He’s driving the DeLorean as he does in the book, but he also picks up the Zemeckis Cube, and the film is even scored by Alan Silvestri, who composed the music for the BTTF trilogy. You’ll hear plenty of familiar melodies and sound effects throughout Ready Player One. While it’s exciting to see the iconic car in action, it wasn’t necessary to have it in such a central role (evidenced by the movie poster). The car probably served as the main inspiration for the biggest disappointment of the film adaptation: the first challenge.

In the book, Wade discovers the key on his virtual high school’s planet in a dungeon pulled straight from one of Halliday’s favorite Dungeons and Dragons modules. In the movie, players mindlessly race in their favorite vehicle through a gauntlet of destruction that culminates with King Kong. Not only is there no personal connection to Halliday, but it’s hard to believe that so many gamers would keep doing the same stupid death race for five years without trying anything different, especially when you lose everything you’ve earned when your character dies. When Wade finally earns the key, it’s fairly anticlimactic, and on top of that, there is no videogame challenge to face as there is in the book. The movie manages to do some necessary character work between Wade and Artemis, but the first challenge provides much more eye candy than substance.

Some of the improvements made by the movie include more interaction among the characters earlier on, but this makes it difficult to show just how isolated everyone is in the story. The crowds of people strapped into virtual reality gear look funny when it should be alarming. But I’m glad Wade doesn’t do everything on his own as he does in the book. The movie would have been fully animated up to the final fifteen minutes if they’d stuck to the plot in the book. Wades friends offer more dimension to the world even if it isn’t quite as dark an atmosphere as the book provides. Even the main bad guy from IOI gets a new person to act with, a secretive gamer voiced by T. J. Miller, who gives a hilarious performance, but it’s odd that he’s the only one without a real-world part.

Other improvements include Halliday’s video diary museum and the whole Shining sequence. Though it didn’t match the challenge from the book, it’s still fun to watch. The challenges themselves aren’t quite as involved, and I could have done without the real-world chase at the end while Wade completed the final videogame.

And the world itself could have been bigger. There’s no reason to end on Planet Doom, where the movie began, when there are supposed to be millions of worlds in the Oasis. It makes the movie version feel just a bit too small.

If you want a taste of the ever-lasting gobstopper that is the Oasis, you’ll only find it in the book.

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