(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.)
"Billions: Season Two": Federal prosecutor Chuck Rhoades and hedge-fund king Bobby "Axe'' Axelrod (Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis) almost have more in common than not in the sophomore round of the smartly acted, superb Showtime drama. Both are having problems with their respective spouses (Maggie Siff, Malin Akerman), but that ultimately does little to alter the collision course the two men remain on ... with Wendy (Siff) still caught between them. Eric Bogosian and David Strathairn make recurring appearances, and a particularly notable cast addition is Asia Kate Dillon as an Axe Capital analyst who advances very far very quickly. **** (Not rated: AS, P)
"Disney's Descendants 2": A sequel to the 2015 cable movie about the offspring of such legendary Disney characters as Maleficent and the Evil Queen, this music-infused fantasy recently made its debut across five of the company's networks simultaneously. Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Sofia Carson, Booboo Stewart and Mitchell Hope are among the returning stars as the so-called Villain Kids leave their idyllic new surroundings and go back to the Isle of the Lost. There, they try to keep evil influences from escaping to the outside world. Director Kenny Ortega (``High School Musical'') also is back. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; outtakes; deleted song. *** (Not rated)
"Chuck": Though he has established a strong image for himself in the title role of the Showtime series "Ray Donovan,'' Liev Schreiber adopts a different -- but still rugged -- persona in this true story of Chuck Wepner, the real-life boxer whose underdog story inspired "Rocky.'' In the same way Sylvester Stallone's character was chosen to go up against the champ, liquor salesman Wepner got the chance to fight none other than Muhammad Ali. As much attention as he got at the time for the amazing opportunity, he also had to deal with falling out of the limelight just as suddenly afterward. The noteworthy cast also includes Naomi Watts (Schreiber's former significant other), Elisabeth Moss, Ron Perlman and comic Jim Gaffigan. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this Week:
"How to be a Latin Lover": Though this comedy from actor-turned-director Ken Marino purports to provide the title education, it also mixes the premise of "About a Boy'' into its plot. Eugenio Derbez ("Instructions Not Included'') plays the title casanova, who gets an unexpected comeuppance when he's thrown out of his marriage by the woman he married for her wealth. To get back to the comfortable lifestyle he knew, he uses his young nephew (Raphael Alejandro) to meet other prospective wives. Salma Hayek plays the boy's mother in a cast that also includes Rob Lowe, Kristen Bell, Raquel Welch and Rob Corddry. DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by Marino, producer Ben Odell and editor John Daigle; deleted and extended scenes. *** (PG-13: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2" (Aug. 22): Peter Quill's (Chris Pratt) long-absent father (Kurt Russell) turns up in the seriocomic Marvel adventure sequel. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"Blue Bloods : The Seventh Season" (Aug. 22): A literally fiery finale caps this latest round of the CBS police-family drama starring Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Wakefield" (Aug. 22): Bryan Cranston has the title role in E.L. Doctorow's story of a family man who places himself in isolation in his attic. (R: AS, P)
"My Cousin Rachel" (Aug. 29): In the Daphne du Maurier tale, a man (Sam Claflin) begins to fall for the woman (Rachel Weisz) he believes killed his benefactor. (PG-13: AS, P)
"Hawaii Five-0: The Seventh Season" (Sept. 5): Say farewell to Chin Ho and Kono, since this turned out to be the last round of the CBS reboot for Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"The Mummy" (Sept. 12): A finder and seller of artifacts (Tom Cruise) becomes the target of an ancient princess' malevolent spirit (Sofia Boutella). (PG-13: AS, N, P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Alien" (1979): Dread, chest-bursting and Sigourney Weaver's star-making turn are all parts of this sci-fi and horror classic. **** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Duel in the Sun" (1946): The David O. Selznick-produced classic of prejudice and a love triangle stars Jennifer Jones (later Selznick's wife), Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotten. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Rocky" (1976): The Italian Stallion (Sylvester Stallone) gets his million-to-one shot against boxing champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in this Oscar-winning franchise launcher. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending July 30, 2017, Courtesy of comScore)
1) "Kong: Skull Island"
2) "Ghost in the Shell"
5) "Beauty and the Beast"
6) "John Wick: Chapter 2"
7) "The Lost City of Z"
8) "Smurfs: The Lost Village"
9) "The LEGO Batman Movie"
10) "Get Out"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence