On April 4, film stores broke the news that Wrath of the Titans screenwriter Dan Mazeau has been hired to write a script for Armada, the second novel by Ready Player One author Ernest Cline. The possibility of an Armada movie is not a novelty; Cline sold the movie rights to Universal in 2012, a week after selling Crown copyright, three full years before the novel was even published. But exchanges are taking Mazeau's hiring as clear evidence that Armada is really moving forward as a project, probably due to the financial success of Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One adaptation, Spielberg's first film to win $ 300 million in international release since 2011.
However, Ready Player One is not only aimed at financial success. It has become the kind of legitimate conversation that makes studies salivate. Movie fans may love Cline's books or hate them, but chances are they know his name and have an opinion about him, and even people who do not intend to watch Ready Player One know it. That kind of cultural saturation (achieved in this case through an aggressive and generalized commercialization, like anything else) is always a blessing for film studios competing for the attention and focus of the audience.
But while the response to Ready Player One, both the book and the film, has been mixed to positive, Cline's Armada has not aroused the same kind of loyalty. It is a widely ridiculed book, due to its blatant appropriation of familiar plots, clumsy prose and narrative of equally complete desire, which presents an obsessive fan of video games and pop culture that saved the world with its player skills and openly drilling to everyone who once suggested that he was wasting his time obsessively focusing on his gaming skills. Cline's grim teenage fantasy has a protagonist who turns antisocial behavior into a worldwide acclaim and the servile devotion of a vaguely made "pretty girl." In the process, he portrays players as the most important and tragically underrated people in the world. Ready Player One is a self-indulgent but festive novel about pop culture that Cline loves. Armada is frankly masturbatory about it.
Does that mean it can not be turned into an effective movie? Not necessarily. Cline's Ready Player One has similar flaws, and the film version, co-written by Cline and Zak Penn, went directly to many of them. According to reports, Mazeau will also work directly with Cline, who has already written an Armada script. If both can follow the model of Ready Player One and improve the book, there is a possibility that the film will work on the screen without generating the same hostility that the book received. Here are some things that Cline and Mazeau could learn from what worked with the Ready Player One adaptation.
Image: Warner Bros.
Focus on the action, not on the reference lists. Armada practically drowns in its pop culture references, and unlike Ready Player One, it does not make them an integral part of the plot. The protagonist Zack Lightman has a reason to worry about the culture of the '80s, since it connects him with his disappeared father, who left behind a theory of conspiracy linked to old movies. But that does not explain how Cline turns every sympathetic character of Armada into a fanatical fanatic of trivia. Even Zack's mother uses the phrase of Lord of the Rings "You will not pass!" When he scolds it. It is self-indulgent and repetitive, and makes very diverse characters from all over the world feel like Ernest Cline Clones drawn identically. Ready Player One needs its cultural baggage to make its plot and configuration work, but the film reduces references to what is necessary for action, and pushes the rest to the bottom, like set dressing instead of centerpieces. For Armada, Cline and Mazeau could reduce them much more easily. Limiting spasmodic references to Zack and his closest friends, for example, would make him a distinctive character instead of just another gear in the reference machine. It would also reduce the endless criticism of whether the film is based on cultural awareness or empty nostalgia.
Find a new terrain to distinguish history One of the most frustrating things about Armada is that it is a slightly new version of the 1984 movie The Last Starfighter, and, to a lesser degree, the 1985 novel by Orson Scott Card Ender & # 39; s Game. Armada openly mentions both works and is presented as the "real" version of his fictional story. But simply recognizing the similarities of the plot does not excuse them. The book does not provide enough information about the concept of "video games actually train people to fight against aliens." The film version of Ready Player One takes some sharp turns to the left of the book, replacing its most unimaginable scenes, such as the one that recreates the whole of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with new and surprising material. And it makes his strongest character work by significantly deepening the character of Halliday, the designer of tragic games whose obsessions define the world of the protagonist Wade Watt. An adaptation of Armada worthwhile should follow the same course to make the plot more distinctive and creative and find more resonant elements in its simplistic characters.
Image: Warner Bros.
Make it worthwhile to meet the secondary characters. The Armada book has serious problems with its secondary characters, which largely exist to admire and support Zack, envy or scold him and limit him so that he can feel even more satisfaction when he ignores his rules. and it is successful anyway. Many of the biggest complaints about the book come from what is a very obvious solipsistic fantasy. The movie Ready Player One also has minor character issues, but at least it makes an effort to give Wade's allies their own important roles in the story in ways that not only reflect more glory in him. Armada needs a tough look similar to if someone else in the story has a real purpose or personality. Most of them do not, and characters like Zack's love interest Lex, a collection of cheap fantasy features that only serve to ease their way and flatter their ego, could easily cut or expand into something less embarrassingly easy.
Reduce self-satisfaction For the adaptation of Ready Player One, Cline and Penn had the good sense to cut some of Wade's most atrocious moments, like the scene in which he makes fun of an impromptu Swordquest trivia with another player who is about to solve the same riddle where it is. ("Try to ask me something difficult," he growls, when asked who programmed the games). Navy needs a similar severe hand. It is a fantasy so naked of self-satisfaction, of an intimidated child who is told that his self-indulgent obsessions are the most important things in the world and that he deserves power, respect and admiration for having persecuted them. It is a very specific and narrow fantasy for the players, to the point where Zack receives his own crib for players infinitely comfortable, fully equipped with his favorite snacks and music, plus a variety of grass grown just for him and his fellow players. .
But like Ready Player One, the Armada adaptation will presumably target a relatively large audience, and its validation and recognition fantasies have to go beyond the comparatively narrow world of competitive gamers. The adaptation of Ready Player One expands the story to encompass anyone who has a fantasy they wish to play in an escapist world, and while turning their hero into an avatar of the soft audience, at least he is no longer an idiot who thinks that his knowledge of Earthworld's Penultimate Truth Talisman makes him objectively superior to someone who has not heard of him. It will be harder to find ample common ground for Armada. Given how entrenched history is in the fantasy of validation and self-satisfaction, uprooting will be a difficult process. But Ready Player One is an excellent model of how an extremely specific story can be expanded to a more welcoming and nuanced one, without losing sight of the original story. Maybe there is still hope for Armada.
Remove it before the Last Starfighter reactivation project makes it obsolete. Unless Gary Whitta's Last Lastfighter has also recently been mocked as a developing project, get to the screen first. At that point, it will be even more difficult to defend Armada as a distinctive project instead of a clumsily derived one. Let's see who can scale the leader board faster.