The first reactions to Ready Player One have hit the Internet following the film's surprise premiere at SXSW 2018. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Ernest Cline, the newest genre picture from legendary director Steven Spielberg tells the story of youngster Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), who spends his days living in the virtual reality of the OASIS. After OASIS founder James Donovan Halliday (Mark Rylance) passes away, Wade is one of several to embark on a quest to find a hidden Easter egg within the OASIS in an effort to inherit Halliday's immense fortune. The villainous Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) is also hot on the egg's trail for his own interests.
In the months leading up to its release, Ready Player One has (perhaps unfairly) amassed a considerable amount of controversy, with both the source material and marketing campaign drawing heavy criticism for its over-reliance on pop culture references (which are a key component of the story). Still, with Spielberg calling the shots, many hoped he would be able to deliver another great piece of escapism. Warner Bros. launching it at SXSW was seen as a vote of confidence in the product, and now the first reactions are in.
After a problematic screening plagued by technical difficulties, viewers are sharing their thoughts about Ready Player One. Check out some tweets below:
#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
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
So yeah, I LOVED Ready Player One. It’s perhaps the geekiest movie ever made. So so so happy right now!— Eric Vespe (@EricVespe) March 12, 2018
Ready Player One is a whole lot of fun. Those who are stuck in pre-release hate mode better prepare to be disappointed. #sxsw— Scott Weinberg (@scottEweinberg) March 12, 2018
Well everyone relax, Ready Player One will indeed be the biggest thing in the world— Emily Yoshida (@emilyyoshida) March 12, 2018
READY PLAYER ONE: So so so much movie. Sometimes too much but what I kept thinking over and over again was “my kids are gonna LOVE THIS.” It is joyous and thrilling for the people who it’s designed to joy and thrill.— Brian Tallerico (@Brian_Tallerico) March 12, 2018
READY PLAYER ONE is a big Trapper-Keeper stuffed full of smiles, Adventure, and heart.— Aaron Morgan (@Aaron_Morgan) March 12, 2018
I adore it.#sxsw
READY PLAYER ONE: Good lord I was wrong about this one. It’s oodles of fun and kind of the antithesis of Cline’s novel in terms of its quality. References weren’t too cloying for me, but I was so close I couldn’t pick out too much. #sxsw— Nick Johnston (@onlysaysficus) March 12, 2018
literally my face during every second of Ready Player One. pic.twitter.com/dqZTNeN81r— Britt Hayes (@MissBrittHayes) March 12, 2018
#ReadyPlayerOne posits a corporate big wig who exploits fan culture for profit as its villain. The irony of that is giving me a headache. This is no love letter to pop culture. It’s a crass play to nostalgia; it offers nothing new or exciting.— Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) March 12, 2018
Not everyone was enamored with Spielberg's latest, but the general consensus seems to be quite positive. Many are in agreement the master hasn't lost his touch for grand Hollywood spectacle, injecting Ready Player One with a sense of undeniable fun and adventure. It appears Spielberg was able to transcend whatever flaws were present in the source material (a major sticking point for pre-release critics during the marketing campaign) and delivered an emotional and heartfelt love letter to geek culture. Since Spielberg's next film is Indiana Jones 5 for Lucasfilm, it's encouraging to hear he can still knock out a crowd-pleasing genre picture in the latter stages of his career. Over the past few years, he's primarily been known for Oscar contending historical dramas.
It will be interesting to see if this word-of-mouth has any positive effect on the box office prospects. Ready Player One is projected to open between $45-55 million over its 4-day opening weekend, but those estimates came out before the SXSW premiere. Now that the conversation surrounding the film is much more positive than it was just a few days ago, perhaps tracking will improve. Nobody should expect Ready Player One to break records like some of Spielberg's classics, but its commercial haul may end up being better than expected now that the buzz is starting to spread.
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