Ready Player One ★★★½

Maybe it was just my mood, but this struck me as a hopelessly conflicted and at times unbearably sad statement from Spielberg, questioning his influence and legacy to such an extent that the treasure hunt that drives the plot seemed secondary to the hand-wringing. This is to some extent typical of late Spielberg, of course, but here dazzling formal innovations and special effects are deployed with a sense of simultaneous regret. Every reference is a celebration that raises the worry that there’s only more of the same to come. Aesthetically ugly yet technically astounding, it’s blockbuster cinema interrogating its inevitable dead-ends, only to end up making an explicit “one for you, one for them” argument. That it resigns itself to that compromise, presenting it as our best hope for the future, might be its most damning indictment of contemporary culture.