Ever since it was announced two days ago at the now mega-commercial pop-culture festival South By South West that Ready Player One would be its secret screening on Sunday night, it’s been the hottest ticket at the Austin-based event.
Hundreds of press, badge-holders and fanboys were foaming at the mouth at the first-ever viewing of Steven Spielberg’s new movie based on the popular novel by Ernest Cline. The line to get into the showing wrapped around an entire block and many had been waiting for hours in the hope of securing a spot inside the Paramount Theater.
Several overexcited fans reportedly exploded in their seats when Spielberg himself walked on stage, since this hadn’t been previously announced. He told the rabid crowd, “This is not a film that we made — this is, I promise you, a movie.” He emphasized that Ready Player One is a movie that should be seen on a big screen. “I’m wondering if this screen is a big enough screen,” he joked, “because we made this with a lot of ambition to fill the screen, and we hope we can do that tonight.”
Spielberg went on to explain that he wanted to make ready Ready Player One not only because he loved the book but also because he’s a self-proclaimed gamer. “I’ve been a gamer ever since 1974 when I played the first pong game on Martha’s Vineyard while filming Jaws,” he said.
But he also set out to make the film for people who don’t play video games and who may have never played one in their life. “This isn’t a film that you must have gotten into the gaming world to really get and get involved with. This is not just for gamers,” he insisted.
“Just remember one thing,” he added, “The side windows are for cultural references, the windshield is for the story. If you look straight ahead, you can always follow the story; if you look out the side windows, you may miss the story,” he said.
The reaction after the movie was mostly positive, with many proclaiming their love with what they called a touching tribute to pop culture and nostalgia.
(Go back to the most recent trailer and quickly remind yourself…)
However, not everyone was in love with the film. Some 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.
SXSW, as the festival is commonly referred to, is fast becoming an over-hyped SDCC of springtime, with movie and TV studios using it to promote new releases that will be distributed before July and thus missing the crowds of millions packed into San Diego’s Gaslamp District. Consequently, it’s been noted that the crowd at Sunday’s screening was 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. We shall soon see since the Ready Player One goes on general release in just two weeks, on March 29.
From Tracer to the Joker, IGN has tried to spot every video game, movie, comic and TV show reference from the second trailer for Ready Player One in the above video.
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