I read Highlights as a kid, and my girls both love it today. I knew almost nothing about the magazine beyond what's on the page, though. Seeing how the magazine comes together was a lot of fun and made me appreciate what they do a lot more.
I read the book of Ready Player One a while ago, and I enjoyed its premise and the adventure of the main quest more than the ode to pop culture. That part did work better on the page than the screen, though.
With one striking exception with The Shining sequence, the nods to pop culture don't really work that well in this movie. The final battle also is hard to connect with; it feels too familiar.
With all of that said, I enjoyed Ready Player One as a fun adventure movie from Spielberg. It's an entertaining ride, even if it's all over the map.
After watching Blackhat so recently, I was amazed to remember that Mann did even more impressive visual work here. L.A. is gorgeous in this film, and Mann gets amazing mileage out of just shooting Foxx and Cruise in a car. I also forgot about brief cameos from Jason Statham and Javier Bardem, who owns the screen as the man behind the curtain.
It has quite a spectacle, and I can see a decent movie lurking somewhere in all the mess. Despite a bunch of good actors in the mix, I just didn't care about what happened. It also moves way too fast. It's okay to stop and let us breathe here and there. The weight of trying to do the "Batman vs. Superman" story, Luthor, Wonder Woman, the start of the Justice League, future enemies, and Doomsday is just too much for any movie to handle. The problem isn't that this movie is dark; it just doesn't have much of a soul.