You know the movies where a bunch of guys in suits throw a bunch of things together that sound cool but don't have meaning? This is the epitome of that.
There's a zillion pop culture and nerd culture references, but since they make good use of ZERO, it's not actually interesting. They're banking on you going "HEY, THAT THING, I RECOGNIZE THAT HURR HURR" and patting yourself on the back in congratulations. But poorly executed nostalgia jabs do not on their own make good cinema.
SPOILERISH BITS AHEAD:
Here are a couple out of MANY examples of what I mean... You include the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, cool. "We love that movie," nerds say to no one's surprise. You build it up film style...and then you proceed to not use it correctly. The item is a joke item from a simple but classic movie. It isn't a long or difficult joke. It would have made the scene quite a bit better...but nope! Just the name is supposed to make the scene pop? Nah. Comedy potential, wasted. Part of the joke in the film it is from IS how to use it correctly, which this film couldn't be bothered with.
You include the Iron Giant as...a weapon? When the whole movie he was from was about him NOT wanting to be a weapon?? (He didn't even like that a deer was shot, and that's a perfectly valid thing to kill--especially in the 50s!) And then you go further and are in a massive battle...and don't use the Iron Giant's ridiculously OP weapons, his planet destroying arsenal??? "Nah, people'll be happy because he's there, not that it makes sense." Name dropping doesn't do it. People like characters and jokes because they bring something to the table. Don't bring what they brought and you might as well not try in the first place.
This is a "fellowkids" kind of thing. Just popping images or dropping names of cool things doesn't make you cool. It makes it a mishmash. USE the references. Background stuff works too, often enough, but you can't just refuse to use the vast majority of the things you paid license fees to show and talk about. An immersive online world could have worked just as well without those really bland chart-driven blinks of pop culture drops. Like, yes, we know about the Delorean. We all love those movies. But there are cars/vehicles that would've made more sense there, too.
It's cheap. It's extremely cheap. Everyone involved in the film should've known better. Everything in the film could've been done better.
I do not know what the book is like, but this film was...wonky. Pandering without actually bringing any nerdy delight to the surface (unless you ARE one of those people whose breast swells with pride just because you recognize a Gundam or a Battletoad).
It's like paying to use Charlie Brown in the movie, but...never saying classic lines (like Good Grief, never doing a classic gag like a kite getting stuck...) It's really not hard to do proper references. Even thirteen year old fanfic writers know how to do them most of the time.
This movie was just vomited up marketing checklists and charts. Nothing more.