Saturday, April 6, 2019

REVIEW: Love 020: The Movie (live action movie)

Love 020: The Movie is Chinese contemporary romance. According to Wikipedia, it was originally released just before the TV series began airing.


Bei Wei Wei is a Computer Science student who enjoys gaming in her free time. She's also considered to be the prettiest girl in the Computer Science Department, but she couldn't care less about dating. The one guy on campus who's caught her eye is Xiao Nai, but that's more for his genius programming skills than his looks (but his good looks certainly don't hurt). She's sure he has no idea she exists, however.

Wei Wei's gaming life becomes more complicated when her in-game spouse suddenly dumps her and remarries someone else. She doesn't really care about him - the two of them only married because there are quests that can only be done by married couples - but everyone in the game seems convinced that she harbors hard feelings against both her former in-game husband and his new spouse. Then one of the game's most famous, richest, and skilled players asks Wei Wei to be his in-game spouse, and both her gaming and real-life drama increases.

This movie is based on a book, as is the Love 020 TV series I watched not too long ago. Both adaptations are different enough from each other that it's worth giving the other a try if you watched one and liked it. From the little I know about the book, it sounds like the TV series is a more faithful adaptation.

Some quick comparisons between the book and movie: I felt the movie's energy was better, and the main characters seemed more realistic and relatable. Xiao Nai, for example, wasn't quite as invincible and flawless in the movie as he was in the TV series. His game development company's physical location was shabbier in the movie, and Wei Wei's dorm room, which she shared with three friends, seemed smaller. The movie also added power shutoffs (outages?) to the story - there were multiple times when characters were playing the game only for the power to suddenly shut off, forcing them to run to a nearby Internet cafe to continue. This wasn't a feature of the TV series at all.

I liked the overall look of the game world slightly more in the TV series than in the movie, but I liked the main characters a bit more in the movie than in the TV series. The energy of the movie was great as well. I also thought the way the roles of a couple characters in the TV series were combined in the movie worked well. In this adaptation, Cao Guang (played by Bai Yu in both adaptations) was a character viewers could comfortably dislike, whereas in the TV series he eventually ended up in a romantic storyline of his own.

Overall, though, I think I preferred the TV series. Bei Wei Wei and Xiao Nai's relationship had much more room to grow. Also, one of my favorite storylines, the relationship between Hao Mei and KO, was reduced to two scenes that were so brief they might as well have been cut from the movie. The semi-romance that developed between the two of them in the TV series was completely absent in the movie - instead, Hao Mei's discovery of KO's real-life gender (in the game they played together, KO was female) was treated as a joke, one that fell extremely flat. I also felt that the storyline involving Xiao Nai's company came across as rushed.

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