"Ready Player One" is a bit of a mess, but it works

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Here are excerpts of my "Ready Player One" SXSW review for The Playlist. The film, released nationwide today, is on pace to make close to $52 Million at the weekend box-office. 


Ready Player One,” Steven Spielberg’s dizzying foray into ’80s pop culture fandom, is a return of sorts to the pure pop escapism that pervaded his filmography in the late ’70s and early ’80s, with such films as “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T.” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The sheer playful joy in filmmaking displayed by Spielberg in this sci-fi riff has not been seen from the 71-year-old filmmaker since the cat and mouse hijinks of 2002’s “Catch Me If You Can.”
"Tackling Ernest Cline‘s nerdgastic 2011 novel of the same name, Spielberg sets his meta-y sights on a dystopian feature brimming with Easter Eggs, virtual reality, and an endless layer of discoveries which pay tribute to ’80s pop culture nostalgia, the latter of which Spielberg clearly left an indelible mark on. Dazzling in form and a chase film at its heart, “Ready Player One” is exhilarating, but it also can’t sit still. Fitting to the content perhaps, the movie still arguably suffers from troublesome A.D.D. with its hyper-fast cutting and its tendency to wander narratively.
“Ready Player One” is such an extravagantly conceived product that one feels pummeled by the end of its 140 minutes. Spielberg infuses every frame with countless details that will invite repeat viewings for those who want to catch every last drop of nostaglia. If that’s the sort of thing you place a premium on.  In this hyperkinetic world Spielberg has created, “Ready Player One” pays faithful tribute to Cline’s novel and for that, it will please its ardent fans. For the rest of us, there are enough breathlessly realized sequences that may help you forget that you don’t actually care about any of the characters."