On DVD & Blu-Ray: July 24, 2018

Director Steven Spielberg has a way with not only bringing the viewer into the spectacle, but making them appreciate the aura of the spectacle he has concocted on screen. We're not just in awe of what we're seeing on screen, but we're in awe of how it makes us feel. Spielberg is a master of this kind of spellbinding visual storytelling, but as the filmmaker has grown older his filmography has naturally become more serious. That is to say, it's been a decade since that fourth Indiana Jones movie and while Spielberg has co-directed a motion-capture Tintin movie here and an adaptation of The BFG there the majority of Spielberg's latter filmography consists of more "adult" projects. With his latest, Ready Player One, Spielberg returns to that era he helped define with films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, and even Hook as Ready Player One mines the kind of wonder each of those films elicited as they were all, in some fashion, told from the point of view of a child who was allowed to run wild with and fully indulge in their imagination. Some may state that this is the very thing wrong with Ready Player One in that it is a little too indulgent in such imagination; reveling in the nostalgia of pop culture rather than relying on its own inventiveness to make it stand apart yet feel familiar. And yet, the way in which Ready Player One utilizes these aspects to tell a brand new story is so creative and so striking in its relatability-especially to an avid movie-goer-that it feels rooted in a truth that movies were afraid to discuss until now. It may be due to the fact that I came of age in an era where the site of that T-Rex in Jurassic Park was something that couldn't have been realized in such life-like fashion prior or because I grew up re-watching Hook to the point those lost boys became an integral part of my childhood, but the fact of the matter is Ready Player One doesn't just utilize the same tone and a barrage of references to trick audience members who might have an affection for any one of the many cameos this thing trots out in order to make them feel an affinity for this new product, but rather it takes the real world into account, advances it into a hyper, but all too probable reality, and then comments on how it's nice to indulge in our imaginations and appreciate what others have given us with theirs, but that-as with everything-balance is key and it requires real world interactions, relationships, and experiences to allow those imaginations to grow. It's not a groundbreaking thesis, but it's executed so well and through such a fun journey the fact its ideas aren't brand-spanking new isn't a deal-breaker. If nothing else, it's a comforting reminder told from the perspective of a filmmaker with fresh (or at least re-invigorated) eyes. Full review here. A

The Con is On is a 90-minute comedy starring Tim Roth, Uma Thurman, Alice Eve, Sofia Vergara, Maggie Q, Stephen Fry, Crispin Glover, and Parker Posey. So, why have I not heard a word about it? This seemingly direct to Redbox flick follows a couple who, in an effort to avoid paying off a massive gambling debt to a notorious mobster in England, flees to Los Angeles and hatch a jewel theft plot. It doesn't exactly sound like anything innovative, but the credentials are through the roof. Director James Oakley only has a single directing credit to his name from five years ago which I've never heard of either, but there has to have been something that attracted this many people to this script and while I'm curious about what that might have been that curiosity only extends to checking this out if it should ever end up on Netflix.

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