julian’s review published on Letterboxd:
i will say this:
this film gave me a moment of pure, earnest jubilation. when it was over – when it finally cut to black and i became aware that i would never, never have to sit through this abhorrent exercise in futility again – i leapt from my seat and started dancing. this isn't a joke, this isn't hyperbole. i jumped up and danced.
soulless, futile, ugly, cruel, homophobic, unfunny. it was aching to sit through, it was aching to see characters and media i loved dragged through its hypercolor sludge. even the iron giant – a character whose cinematic motivation centers on nonviolence, love, and kindness in the face of those who would seek to harm the innocent. but! after 2 1/2 bloated hours, it was over. and i thought, as i danced in the empty theater, full of a stale pretzel and a large diet coke and listening to my roommate laugh at/with me – i thought it was over.
but on the bus ride home, surrounded by strangers, i let my mind wander. and after a little while, i thought about rosalind franklin. i thought about henrietta lacks. i thought about sybil ludington and ada lovelace and edmonia lewis and komako kimura and nancy elizabeth prophet and all the women whose stories we'll never know because they have been buried in america's – and the world's – white supremacist misogynist hegemonic history.
i thought about every woman and person of color whose sweat, tears, blood and suffering has been the foundation for the undue successes and lauds received in their stead by mediocre white men. and i thought of wade – i thought of his friends. i thought of their sacrifices, and i thought of his reward. they were props for his growth, to force him forward like a horse shying from spurs. i thought about how they, though fictional, deserved so much more. they deserved personalities, stories, emotions. instead, they were tokens: one-dimensional stereotypical puppets who could have had so much more. we all deserve more than this nasty and cruel celluloid abortion of a film.
films do not have to be high art. movies do not have to be "cinema." things can be fun, can be light-hearted, can be silly and throw-away, and still be good. and kind. most importantly, above all, things can be kind.
the world is not always kind, the world is not always good. but we can always try to be better. ready player one is not trying to be better. it is content to wallow and stifle and uphold mediocrity. that is why i danced when it was over – because i was so glad i'd never have to sit through that particular brand of mediocrity again.
and, lastly, yes, i got the references. i assure you, i understood it all. i saw it all. i don't need you to tell me i am wrong – i don't need you to tell me i did not understand, or that i do not understand. i do. and i'm so, so tired. i'm tired of it all.