On Saturday, Steven Spielberg unveiled the trailer for his new sci-fi epic Ready Player One. Based on Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name, it came touted in the trailer as a “pop culture holy grail” set in a virtual reality world in which The Iron Giant, Ninja Turtles, Freddy Krueger, and many other licensed action figures appear to, um, fight each other or something. The film doesn’t come out until March 2018, but its pedigree—both via off-camera talent and on-camera fictional wattage—is about as high as a sci-fi flick gets.
But the response has been… not good. Indeed, while Cline’s novel is beloved by a certain subset of fandom-obsessed forum-dwellers, and its brand of hyper-referential nerd-canon reverence has become increasingly mainstream as a result of Marvel movies and shows like The Big Bang Theory, many people find its take on games and so-called genre art to be a dull, pandering tableau of reference points as an end unto themselves. The canon it builds is all-encompassing and free of any distinct taste or through-line; it’s merely “things nerds like,” all together, all at the same time.
Accordingly, people are lining up to dunk on it—the book, the trailer, the whole thing. Any of these individual tweets devolves into a thread of invective, typically following the narrative of people being recommended Ready Player One because they are “nerds” and instead finding it poorly written, obvious, and tasteless:
And lo, the parodies begin:
Spielberg’s still a virtuosic filmmaker, and it’s always good to see him use his considerable largesse to make a big-budget sci-fi movie, but it’s also fair to wish he’d apply his talents to a more worthy piece of fiction. He’s a creator of culture; wallowing in post-modern references is below him. You can watch the actual trailer, which is largely indistinguishable from a fan-made supercut of an expanded Pixar theory primer, below.