Despite its deft marketing, it’s hard to believe that “Ready Player One” is a Steven Spielberg movie. All the typically Spielbergian touches that made him a household name are nowhere to be found: The storyline is borderline trivial, the character development is virtually non-existent, the score is unremarkable, and the whole thing is lifeless and forced. Even Ben Mendelsohn, who normally specializes in effectively playing larger-than-life villains, seems bored and spends the interminable running time looking like he’d rather be anywhere else. The special effects are terrific, which is not surprising given the movie’s pedigree, but Spielberg doesn’t seem to have much interest in highlighting them, they’re just sorta there. All in all, it’s not that “Ready Player One” is bad per se, it’s that there’s so much potential and none of it is realized, and the finished product is an overlong, anonymous corporate product that tries to pass off nostalgia and brand identification as cleverness, and doesn’t seem to have much to say about its own themes.
Rating: ★★ (out of 5)