I’ll start by saying, I have not read the book this movie was based on. Those I know who have read it, tell me the book is vastly different. No car race, no “The Shining” movie, and the character’s don’t get together in real life until after they win the game.
So, judging this movie simply as a movie. My impression was that instead of trying to be original, the film grabbed fan favorites from other movies and put them in this film. When the audience would see something they enjoyed from a previous film, it would give them the nostalgic feel they felt from the other film, tricking the viewer into thinking they were enjoying this film. No one left the theater saying, “wow what a great plot.” They were leaving, chattering about the things they saw that reminded them of their childhood. Perhaps, this is due to the butchering the plot endured in the translation from book to movie.
To me, it seemed too much time was spent on adding little bits and pieces from other films and attaining their copyrights, rather than just trying to make a good movie.
The special effects are done well. And if you are planning to see the film, you should try to see it in theaters, so you can appreciate the artistic endeavor.
For the target audience, its really hard to say. There are pop culture items from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and modern day. So there will be items for everyone. Obviously, to get the most out of it, I would say someone born in the early 70s, who would have grown up during majority of the pop culture items.
Overall, its worth seeing. But there are some plot holes that exist due to the poor book to movie translation. So when you watch it, try not to think too much and instead just enjoy the fun adventure.