Steven Spielberg's latest flick Ready Player One had its world premiere at SXSW yesterday, and many critics are in love with what they're calling a touching tribute to pop culture and nostalgia. However, there are those who see it less as a love letter and more as pandering to a very specific subset of fandom.
Poster image for Ready Player One. Image: Warner Bros.
After experiencing some technical hiccups, including that time when the movie glitched (possibly a kismet moment), many audience members were eager to sing the praises of Spielberg's latest flick. Some are calling the movie, based on the novel by Ernest Cline, a fun and entertaining callback to their beloved childhood icons, of which they said there are too many to count. Here's a sampling of first reactions from Twitter.
#ReadyPlayerOne is classic Steven Spielberg. It’s got the references, the ferocious effects and the great ‘80s soundtrack, sure, but also the charm, the heart, the humor and a fantastic Alan Silvestri score. I loved it & so did this #SXSW crowd. Be excited for it! pic.twitter.com/xwPOGwXDxd
— ErikDavis (@ErikDavis) March 12, 2018
— Ashley Menzel @ SXSW (@AshleyGMenzel) March 12, 2018
#ReadyPlayerOne There were some problems at the screening, however the movie itself is everything a geek could dream of. So much fun.
— Daniel R (@DanielRPK) March 12, 2018
Just watched the #ReadyPlayerOne world premiere and Steven Spielberg made me fall in love with movies again. I cheered so many times during the movie. Spielberg made a movie that was more than the sum of its pop cultural references: a movie with a compelling story.#WarnerBrosSG pic.twitter.com/xSoSCC6X9P
— mrbrown (@mrbrown) March 12, 2018
Just got out of #ReadyPlayerOne and despite a brief moment where the sound stopped working (and the audience dubbed in the sound effects.????) it was a great story, fantastic book adaption and had a diverse cast. #sxsw #sxsw18 pic.twitter.com/EXvjqNG25X
— Kristen B. Watson (@kbwats) March 12, 2018
AHHHH READY PLAYER ONE!!!!! Haven’t felt that sense of childlike wonder since JURASSIC PARK. This film lacks the terror of that film but the sense of joy is overwhelming. This film is love. #sxsw #sxfilm #sxswfilm #ReadyPlayerOne
— Alex White (LeBlanc) (@LSUgymtiger) March 12, 2018
READY PLAYER ONE feels like Spielberg watched a ton of Luc Besson movies and decided to outdo them. In terms of pure spectacle, it’s the most astonishing thing he’s done. Never underestimate Steve. #SXSW
— erickohn (@erickohn) March 12, 2018
Went into READY PLAYER ONE skeptical as hell. Came out largely as a joyous convert. I have a handful of issues with the structure and characters, but it improves on the book in important ways, the action is riveting, and I really bought the humor. #readyplayerone
— Tasha Robinson (@TashaRobinson) March 12, 2018
However, not everyone was in love with the film. Some critics said that the constant barrage of pop culture references didn't detract from what they called a mediocre story and lazy worldbuilding. Others said the references weren't given context and instead thrown around haphazardly in an attempt to pander.
literally my face during every second of Ready Player One. pic.twitter.com/dqZTNeN81r
— Britt Hayes (@MissBrittHayes) March 12, 2018
Here are my thoughts on #ReadyPlayerOne.
SXSW 2018: Ready Player One Review – Nostalgic Cameos Can’t Save a Mediocre Film https://t.co/GVrYl0tGHJ
— (((JonathanBarkan))) @ SXSW (@JonathanBarkan) March 12, 2018
Just. These movies matter so much to people. To just slap on iconography and references like they are stickers on a bedroom door. It’s such shallow use. It exploits your love for these things instead of earning it.
— Kristy Puchko ➡️ SXSW (@KristyPuchko) March 12, 2018
...the bad narration (a narrative crutch) in intro doesn’t work. Might’ve been in better hands with an indie director who focused on human story & class disparity which is better explored in the book. But there are a ton of references. Overall feels dated. 2/2 #ReadyPlayerOne
— Chris Gore @ SXSW (@ThatChrisGore) March 12, 2018
Genuinely still shifting through my #ReadyPlayerOne feelings but it’s telling that some fanboys have already yelled at me for not coming out of the gate singing its praises. That’s exactly the culture way RP1 attempts to grapple with.
— Joanna Robinson (@jowrotethis) March 12, 2018
It's also telling how some who saw the film have pointed out that they, along with most of the people attending that screening, were basically the perfect audience for the film to pander to, which does call into question whether the positive reactions will be shared among those who aren't in the target demographic. In any case, round one goes to Spielberg. We'll see what happens next when Ready Player One comes out March 29.
#ReadyPlayerOne was one of the most flat-out. entertaining blockbusters I’ve seen in a while and a visual masterpiece. Sure, I’m smack in the middle of the target demo, but it was nice to just go on an adventure. #Cantwaittoseeitin70mm#SXSW
— Brian Scofield (@_brian_s) March 12, 2018