Ken Rudolph’s review published on Letterboxd:
I feel like this film deserves 5-stars since I was enthralled and even (oh god, how can I admit this) brought to tears at one point. But I have to step back a half-star since it is so obvious that this film was designed to press all my buttons: nerd movie lore, check. Arcade Atari games, check. '80s music nostalgia, check. Spectacular fantasy battles in VR!, check. I may be in my 70s; but a sense of wonder has no age limit (and with so many cultural touchstones contemporary to my salad years on view, I felt particularly in touch with the references and clever easter eggs.) I'm only thankful that I hadn't read the book beforehand, so the script and special effects were transporting, novel and coherent.
That said, this was still an overly obvious, adolescent quest fantasy...with stock villains and youthful, nerdy heroes. So I can't quite give it 5-stars. Maybe a second viewing in IMAX 3D will push me over the top. Or perhaps the thin story will pall and reduce to ennui, and I'll only be left with the spectacular technical achievements: great sound mix, a fresh sounding John Williams-ish score by Alan Silvestri, and truly superb special visual effects that set a new high for genre film making.