'Ready Player One' SXSW Early Buzz: A Hugely Enjoyable Crowd-Pleaser

Ready Player One premiered at the 2018 South by Southwest Festival to heavy anticipation. Would it be as tacky as the marketing made it appear or would director Steven Spielberg live up to his legendary reputation?

It turns out that fans of the '80s nostalgia vehicle had nothing to worry about. Movie critics and geek bloggers are over the moon in their praise of Spielberg's adaptation of the 2011 Ernest Cline novel, calling it a joyous visual spectacle. After the film premiered — with a few technical hiccups — in Austin, Ready Player One received a standing ovation.

Here is what early critics thought of Ready Player One.

Based off of Ernest Cline's 2011 novel of the same name, Ready Player One follows Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), a poor teen gamer who, like the rest of the world, has retreated into a VR-like video game world called the Oasis. But when the game's deceased creator James Halliday (Mark Rylance) announces a world-wide treasure hunt for his hidden fortune, Wade eagerly joins in. Because of Halliday's obsession with '80s pop culture, the treasure hunt and Oasis itself are replete with the visual homages and nods to the era.

Ready Player One is the apotheosis of '80s nostalgia that has taken over Hollywood. And that's why the critics love it.

Even director Robert Rodriguez got in on the love.

Nerdist's Scott Weinberg and The Verge's Tasha Robinson both acknowledged the negative backlash that the Ready Player One marketing was attracting online, in addition to the renewed hatred for its source material, Cline's 2011 book. The book was criticized for its shallow pastiche of '80s cultural references and poor treatment of female characters. But both Weinberg and Robinson assured that Spielberg's film improves on these problems immensely.

Not All Critics Loved It

Others were a bit more skeptical. Vulture's Emily Yoshida gave a cryptic reaction to the film, predicting that Ready Player One will be a huge hit, but avoiding giving her own criticisms. Meanwhile, Screencrush's Britt Hayes and /Filmcast host Kristy Puchko were much harsher in their judgments, with Puchko calling Ready Player One "a cacophonous eyesore" that is "no love letter to pop culture. It's a crass play to nostalgia; it offers nothing new or exciting."

Despite skepticism that Ready Player One could stand alongside Spielberg's other film classics — many of which are referenced themselves — it seems that the sci-fi movie is far from a disappointment. But it should be noted that festival hype can easily warp public opinion. So take every glowing tweet with a grain of salt.

Our full review of Ready Player One will be up later today.

Ready Player One hits theaters on March 29, 2018. It stars Sheridan, Rylance, Olivia Cooke, and Ben Mendelsohn.