Early reactions from the Ready Player One premiere at the SXSW festival are coming in, and the response seems to be overwhelmingly positive.
Steven Spielberg introduced his adaptation of Ernest Cline's sci-fi book that's heavy on 1980s pop culture at the screening in Austin, and although there were a few technical hiccups, the film received a standing ovation from the audience as the credits rolled.
Ready Player One, which will be released in theaters on March 29, follows Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a teenager and gamer on a high-stakes pursuit in a VR-like video game world called the OASIS. The game's deceased creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) set up a treasure hunt prior to his death, and the winner of the game will become the richest person on Earth and also get control of OASIS. But an evil corporation, led by Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn), is also on the trail.
Not long after the screening, many professional critics and geek bloggers began to give their verdict and the general, although still early, consensus seems to be that the Warner Bros. film was a hit.
Effusive praise for the film came from veteran critics like Eric Vespe, formerly of Ain't it Cool News, and Indiewire's Eric Kohn, who tweeted that Ready Player One was the "most astonishing thing" Spielberg had done in terms of "pure spectacle." RogerEbert.com editor Brian Tallerico and Fandango managing editor Erik Davis were also gushing in their praise of the film.
Nerdist writer Scott Weintraub referenced the pre-release negative reaction to the trailer and posters in his glowing reaction to the film. The Verge's Tasha Robinson was another who had to rethink her earlier skeptism.
But amongst the praise, there were also a few people who weren't bowled over by Ready Player One. Screen Crush News' Britt Hayes and Slashfilm writer Kristy Puchko weren't fans, with Puchko in particular excoriating the film as "no love letter to pop culture. It’s a crass play to nostalgia; it offers nothing new or exciting."