Ready Player One's many trailer Easter eggs have been analyzed, and now the movie itself has been screened to select audiences at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. Few big-budget action movies have ever provoked this much widespread consternation before even hitting screens, but is that uncertainty reflected in the early critical feedback? Read on for some illuminating snippets from across the internet.
Ready Player One dishes out "pop-culture eye candy" - Variety (Unscored)
"Have no fear: In 'Ready Player One,' there is plenty of vicarious fantasy combat, notably a war of the worlds that features the Iron Giant as well as the red-eyed, gleaming silver Mechagodzilla. Every time a creature like that shows up (at one point, even the monster fetus from 'Alien' makes a kind of palm-buzzer cameo), it’s entrancingly cool. 'Ready Player One' tells a breathless and relatively coherent story - essentially, the future of civilization is riding on the outcome of a video game - but the movie, first and foremost, is a coruscating explosion of pop-culture eye candy."
Ready Player One mimics video games in the wrong way - io9 (unscored)
"Ready Player One exists as the equivalent of a video game that uses microtransactions. Players have an insidious choice in games built on the controversial model: They can either spend hours playing to get the gear and rank they covet, or pay real-world money to acquire those things much faster. The institutional power of Warner Bros. essentially lets the studio able to use pay-to-win mechanics on the audience, unlocking laughter or emotional response by sheer volume of its resources. It’s the ne plus ultra of franchise mash-up-a-go-go mega-spectacle. And the overload makes missing bits of nerd iconography - no Marvel superheroes in here, kids! - all the more conspicuous. There’s a glimpse of a cult 1980s show, a snatch of old-school movie soundtrack, all speeding by in a way designed to make you want to buy the home video release and painstakingly annotate it frame by frame, but that’s about it."
Ready Player One doesn't leave much room for characters - RogerEbert.com (unscored)
"While the amusement park ride-pacing of 'Ready Player One' is arguably its strength, it naturally leads to a few weaknesses. Wade’s supporting crew is woefully underwritten, although Cooke does as much as she can with Art3mis. (Check her out in 'Thoroughbreds' if you have yet to do so too. She rules.) Again, one could argue this comes from the film’s ties to video game culture, in which 'supporting character depth' isn’t really a common thing, but it leads to a notable thinness around the edges of 'RPO.' Characters, even the ones we're supposed to love, are just devices or avatars for Wade's quest."
Ready Player One is Spielberg on Spielberg, for better or worse - Vanity Fair (unscored)
"For all that Spielberg claims he wanted to avoid references to his own movies in Ready Player One, this is in every way a spiritual ode to the boy’s adventure genre he made so popular in the 80s. There is a heart beating at the center of The Goonies, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, and more - but in Ready Player One, audiences will instead find a gleaming, digital, golden Easter egg. If the thunderous applause drawn by the premiere is any indication, for many, that will be enough."
Ready Player One's soundtrack is what you'd expect, in the best way - SlashFilm (7/10)
"While the nostalgic visuals can err on the side of heavy-handed, the film’s score accomplishes what the visuals sometimes cannot.. Composer Alan Silvestri is a perfect choice for this material, especially since his resume includes the Back to the Future trilogy. We get that same 'young boy in an adventure' sound, one that is eager and energetic during the action-heavy sequences. There are also plenty of ’80s songs that help set the tone; the film begins with Van Halen’s 'Jump' as a reminder of what you came for. Other songs like, Tears for Fears’ 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World,' pop up throughout."
Could Ready Player One be more self-aware than it seems? - IndieWire (B+)
"'You think I’m just a corporate asshole,' Nolan [Sorrento, the main villain] says, and Spielberg may as well be saying the same thing to a skeptical audience: On paper, 'Ready Player One' certainly looks like another ill-conceived Hollywood product, but this 71-year-old Hollywood veteran is determined to make something better than that. The movie’s greatest sequence is a prolonged homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 'The Shining' too rich with details to spoil here, but needless to say, this is not a brainless blockbuster so much as an attempt to elevate the blockbuster form in its own language."