Another middling summer week kicks off with a huge new movie from Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One. In the year 2045, the world is an overpopulated and harsh place. Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), like most people, just want to escape it and does so in The Oasis, an immersive virtual reality where you can go anywhere, do anything and be anyone. When the creator of The Oasis, James Halliday (Mark Rylance), leaves his entire fortune and total control of The Oasis to whomever can win a three-part contest he designed in the virtual world, Wade and his friends are catapulted into an extraordinary adventure that could determine the fate of The Oasis.
I hadn’t read the book yet for Ready Player One but heard it was a blast for anyone who grew up in the 80s. The movie definitely had that effect on me though. This was the ultimate nostalgic sci fi adventure ride that incorporated endless references to the 80s without it ever seeming overdone or kitschy. Tye Sheridan is one of the best young actors out there today and giving him the lead with other fantastic young actors, especially Olivia Cooke from Bates Motel, and anchoring the cast with heavy hitters like Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg and Ben Mendelsohn just makes for a really solid sci fi tale with a pure heart of gold. Spielberg has been away from full blown adventure films for quite a while but Ready Player One proves he still has that kid heart beating in his chest and is still full capable of the big budget popcorn movies that made him famous.
Next up are two lesser known films from director John Carpenter seeing new Blu-ray releases that are most welcome for fans. First up is In the Mouth of Madness. John Trent (Sam Neill) is a special investigator hired by a publisher (Charlton Heston) to track down his bestselling author Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow) who has gone missing after his new novel begins literally driving readers insane. Trent finds himself crossing a line between fact and fiction when his search leads him to a town that only exists in Cane’s books, and now he must face a terrifying world from which he may never escape.
Carpenter is a master of horror, that fact is undeniable, but with In the Mouth of Madness he created a movie that defies categorization or comparison. The visuals are hallucinatory and dream like, or should I say nightmare like, the cast is phenomenal including one of Sam Neill’s best performances, and the images created on screen are images that stay with you long after the end credits. If The Thing is Carpenter’s crowning glory, In the Mouth of Madness is definitely the most beloved cult classic of his filmography. And the new Collector’s Edition of the film is worth every penny with a new 4K scan of the film, a new audio commentary with Carpenter and his producer, a new episode of the amazingly fun show Horror’s Hallowed Grounds retracing the films locations, and all new interviews with many other cast members and some great vintage featurettes.
Lastly this week is another lesser talked about but vastly underrated Carpenter cult classic making its Blu-ray debut, Memoirs of an Invisible Man. Chevy Chase plays weary stock analyst Nick Halloway who finds himself invisible after a nuclear accident. When a CIA agent (Sam Neill) finds out about Nick he tried to recruit him to work for the government, Nick must race against time to try and find a cure for his new ailment all while trying to cope with his invisibility and his budding romance with Alice Monroe (Daryl Hannah).
While Memoirs of an Invisible Man was initially a flop, Carpenter created a really fun adventure comedy that seems to have caught up to the times and is even more fun now. Chase is hilarious, even when only in voice, and the supporting cast including Neill, Hannah, Stephen Tobolowsky and the vastly underused Michael McKean all make for a quality romp well worth giving a second chance to. And the special effects from Industrial Light and Magic were pretty revolutionary at the time and actually hold up really well even today.
Also of note this week is yet another Carpenter film making it’s Blu-ray debut, the rarely seen TV movie Someone’s Watching Me with Lauren Hutton, the Blu-ray debut of the 80s superhero bomb Supergirl, and the intriguing new horror film Ghostland.
Until next week movie lovers.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday July 24, 2018
A Matter of Life and Death* - Criterion Collection
A Strange Adventure*
Beyond Re-Animator - Vestron Video Collector’s Series
Children of Dracula
Counterpart: The Complete First Season
Dagon* - Vestron Video Collector’s Series
Dream Big: Engineering Our World 4K
Flesh and Blood: The Hammer Heritage of Horror
Gravity Falls: The Complete Series
I Walk Alone*
In the Mouth of Madness – Special Edition
League of Superheroes
Lean on Pete
Memoirs of an Invisible Man*
National Parks Adventure 4K
Operation Red Sea
Ready Player One
Someone’s Watching Me*
Streets of Vengeance
The Con is On
The Devil Dogs of Kilo Company
The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey*
Tiger by the Tail a.k.a. Dead Heat*
When Calls the Heart: My Heart is Yours
Windrider* – MVD Rewind Collection
*Catalog Blu-ray debut