New to DVD and On Demand Releases for July 22 - 28


By Jay Bobbin Zap2it
(Ratings for each film begin with a "star'' rating -- one star meaning "poor,'' four meaning "excellent'' -- followed by the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and then by a family-viewing guide, the key for which appears below.)

Releasing this Week:


Ready Player One"Ready Player One": Steven Spielberg clearly has retained his sense of fun as a moviemaker, if his version of a novel by Ernest Cline (who co-wrote the screenplay) is any indication -- and it surely is, as it crams in every pop-culture reference of the past 30 years that it can, and then stuffs in some more. Tye Sheridan plays the story's young hero, a gamer seeking escape from a grim mid-21st century by tackling a video platform called OASIS. The person who conquers all the challenges it throws forth will win the fortune of its late co-creator (Mark Rylance, who won an Oscar for his earlier work with Spielberg in "Bridge of Spies''). The main obstacle is a businessman portrayed by Ben Mendelsohn, who deploys a video terror with the voice of actor-comedian T.J. Miller. Olivia Cooke, Simon Pegg and Lena Waithe also have major roles in a project that's quite exhilarating. DVD extra: "making-of'' documentary. *** (PG-13: N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
American Masters - Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Ever Lived"American Masters - Ted Williams: The Greatest Hitter Ever Lived": Making its home-video debut the same week it has its national telecast on PBS, this documentary -- narrated by Jon Hamm -- recalls the life and career of the Boston Red Sox player so legendary, a highway tunnel in that city is named for him. One of his successors on the team, David "Big Papi'' Ortiz, is an executive producer of the profile that recalls the unique quality of Williams' performance on the baseball field, as well as his military experiences in two wars and the personal strife that he managed to become one of the best who ever played the game. Bob Costas, Dick Enberg (in comments made before his passing), Ben Bradlee Jr. and fellow sports icons Willie McCovey and Wade Boggs are among those seen reflecting on Williams and his accomplishments. *** (Not rated)
Gravity Falls: The Complete Series"Gravity Falls: The Complete Series": The animated, Emmy-winning Disney show traces the exploits of twin siblings (voices of Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal) during their summer in a strange Oregon town. They're guided by a very special book as they encounter unusual individuals and situations. Series creator Alex Hirsch knew from whence he spoke on many of the themes here, since he developed the program from his own childhood experiences with his twin sister. Linda Cardellini also is in the regular voice cast, and among those supplying guest vocals are Mark Hamill, J.K. Simmons, Will Forte, Nick Offerman, Chelsea Peretti ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine'') and "Castle'' alum Nathan Fillion. DVD extra: audio commentary by cast and crew members. *** (Not rated) (Also on Blu-ray)
The Con is On"The Con is On": Tales of clever crimes are back in season, thanks to the success of "Ocean's 8,'' so it's a good time for this story of a British couple -- played by "Pulp Fiction'' alums Uma Thurman and Tim Roth -- who try to work their way around a huge gambling debt to a lethal mobster (recent "Designated Survivor'' regular Maggie Q). They head for Los Angeles and try to stage a jewel heist that will solve most of their problems, if not necessarily all of them. The cast also includes Alice Eve, Sofia Vergara, Parker Posey, Stephen Fry and Crispin Glover ... and if "Little House on the Prairie'' fans look closely, they'll spot Melissa Sue Anderson. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Also Releasing this Week:


Birthmarked"Birthmarked": The argument of nurture over nature long has fueled scientific debate, and it also does so in this tale of a couple -- played by Toni Collette and Matthew Goode ("Downton Abbey'') -- who use three youngsters, two adopted and one biologically theirs, to add their own voices to the matter. The experiment finds the children purposely raised very differently so the two adults can prove their point about genetics vs. environment, but what everyone gets out of the situation is quite different than what was anticipated. Fionnula Flanagan also is featured. *** (Not rated: AS, P)
Love After Love"Love After Love": A family is deeply impacted by the loss of the husband and father in this drama from director and co-writer Russell Harbaugh. As the sons -- played by Chris O'Dowd, lately of television's "Get Shorty,'' and James Adoman -- try to determine how to carry on with their very different lives, their mother (Andie MacDowell) eventually starts to pull out of her grief to begin charting a new path for herself -- prompting her children to consider doing the same, though they know it won't be easy. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

Upcoming Releases:

"Counterpart: The Complete First Season" (July 31): Oscar winner J.K. Simmons has dual roles, as an intelligence-agency drone and his much more adventurous doppelganger, in the Starz series. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Overboard" (July 31): A revision of the Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell comedy stars Anna Faris as a single mom who gets revenge on her suddenly amnesiac ex-employer (Eugenio Derbez). (PG-13: AS, N, P)
"Tully" (July 31): Charlize Theron plays an overtaxed wife and mother whose brother (Mark Duplass) hires a nanny (Mackenzie Davis) to help her. (R: AS, N, P)
"Breaking In" (Aug. 7): A woman (Gabrielle Union) does whatever it takes to save her children from thieves in a security-laden vacation house. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"The Good Doctor: Season One'' (Aug. 7): One of the past television season's top new hits, this ABC drama stars Freddie Highmore as a skilled young surgeon who has autism and a new job at a major hospital. (Not rated: AS, P)
"Life of the Party" (Aug. 7): After her husband calls it quits with her, a woman (Melissa McCarthy) decides to go back and finish her college education. (PG-13: AS, P)
"Here and Now" (Aug. 7): Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins play the heads of a very diverse family in this HBO drama series from producer Alan Ball ("True Blood''). (Not rated: AS, P)

Oldies But Goodies:

"Four Weddings and a Funeral" (1994): Recurring encounters with an American (Andie MacDowell) vex a lovestruck Englishman (Hugh Grant). **** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Ocean's Eleven'' (2001): An ex-con (George Clooney) masterminds the simultaneous robberies of several Las Vegas casinos. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Wargames'' (1983): A youngster (Matthew Broderick) hacks into a military computer that could set off World War III as a result. *** (Also on Blu-ray)

TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending July 15, 2018, Courtesy of 

FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence