Ready Player One has a lot going for it, namely the involvement of one the greatest science-fiction filmmakers of all time, a masterful practitioner of spectacle who has cannily updated his techniques to fit the project and the times. The heartfelt sci-fi fablist of the ’80s worked up into awe-inspiring scale in the ’90s; in the ’00s, he released a trilogy of darker, more fractured works that reflected the post-millennial American mood. That he is returning to the genre at all after a decade of prestige work (and, um, Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull) is reason enough to be excited for the movie.
But wow, those DeviantArt posters released yesterday did not go over too well. Mapping the characters of the new film to famous artwork for The Lost Boys, The Matrix, Back To The Future, and a bunch of other big-ticket ’80s and ’90s picks, the posters were pasted around Los Angeles, and seem to play directly into the notion that the upcoming movie will be nothing more than pandering nostalgia, a bunch of Reddit threads come to life. That could be entirely the point—to reflect the way culture is now assembled around fandoms and even the internet—but it seems to be done with such gormless, uncritical enthusiasm in these promotional materials. It is only appropriate, then, that it is all being met, as early trailers for the movie were, with an overwhelming backlash—where else?—online.
The various promotional posters have been called everything form “a form of assault” to “a fun reminder that everything I’ve ever loved is garbage and I’m garbage and the world would be better if people like me didn’t exist.” And while, sure, Twitter is just uniquely good at manufacturing withering scorn like this, there are always good jokes scattered in the muck if you’re willing to wade through it. Demi Adejuyigbe has once again rendered the entire critical backlash into a goofy theme song:
And those poorly created filmic mashup posters spawned, yes, many more poorly created film mashup posters. Hope some of these nerd-culture favs make it into the flick!
You can hate the movie or make memes about it or watch it with your kids or something when it comes out March 29.