Ready Player One

Ready Player One ★★½

Here's a thing you'll read about "Ready Player One": 71-year-old Steven Spielberg directs the movie like he's still in his 20s! That's meant as a compliment but it's the biggest problem with the movie. "Ready Player One" is about a beta male who grew up thinking he was entitled to get the girl (and win the big game) because he watched John Hughes movies and thought "Star Wars" was cool. In 2018, we know how problematic that kind of attitude is for young men weaned on a pop culture that catered to their specific wants. So making a movie about what happens when those wants run unbridled into the future has lots of interesting potential. But Spielberg, who made some of his best movies during an era when it was okay to like these kinds of heroes, plays it all very straight, eschewing commentary for references. Sometimes, that's great: the sequence set inside the Overlook Hotel and full of references to "The Shining" is an instantaneous all-timer; the more subtle, near shot-for-shot remake of one of Spielberg's own famous ticking-clock sequences from "Munich" is maybe even better. But often, "Ready Player One" leaves you wanting more meat: I didn't expect Spielberg to indict a world that allowed '80s culture to corrode and perverse, but a little self-reflection would have been nice. Maybe, at 71, he just doesn't get it -- or, as the movie suggests, fanboys always know a hater.