(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.)
"Sully": Director Clint Eastwood does a typically skillful job as he re-creates the so-called "Miracle on the Hudson,'' the 2009 landing of a damaged passenger jet on New York's Hudson River by pilot Chesley "Sully'' Sullenberger (well-played by Tom Hanks), in a tightly edited dramatization that should prove compelling even for those very familiar with the true story. The script, based on Sullenberger's own account of the events, also focuses on the consequent NTSB hearing in which he and his co-pilot (Aaron Eckhart, also excellent) underwent intense questioning that put their careers in peril. The cast also includes Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Jamey Sheridan and -- as herself -- Katie Couric. DVD extras: three "making-of'' documentaries. *** (PG-13: P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"The Magnificent Seven": Though it isn't a particularly necessary remake, this version of the classic Western puts forth sufficient entertainment, thanks in large part to Denzel Washington's reteaming with director Antoine Fuqua. The actor plays the leader of a group of would-be defenders enlisted by a newly widowed resident (Haley Bennett, "The Girl on the Train'') of a town oppressed by a land baron (Peter Sarsgaard). Other members of the septet are portrayed by Chris Pratt, Washington and Fuqua's "Training Day'' colleague Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio ("Law & Order: Criminal Intent''), Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier. The plot inevitably winds down to a showdown between the forces of good and evil, and while it doesn't top that of the 1960 original (nor even of the Japanese forerunner "Seven Samurai''), it serves its purpose here. DVD extras: four "making-of'' documentaries. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Storks": The baby-delivering birds are the "stars'' -- in animated form -- of this comedy, though their business has been converted to more-general parcel delivery. That becomes complicated when the last baby it wasn't able to place, who now is a teenager (voiced by Katie Crown), tries to fulfill a youngster's wish for a brother ... with one of the birds (voice of Andy Samberg) reluctantly helping, leading to a big adventure. Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell ("Modern Family''), Kelsey Grammer, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele and Danny Trejo ("Machete'') also are heard in the film, written and co-directed by Nicholas Stoller ("The Muppets''). DVD extras: music video; LEGO short subject. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"The Disappointments Room": Kate Beckinsale's penchant for elevating horror and suspense tales stays intact with this melodrama, as she plays a wife and mother who finds a hidden room in her family's new home. In this genre, that only can mean one thing -- terror -- as the character's young son (Duncan Joiner) appears to be threatened by presumed spirits that are haunting the residence. Other familiar faces in the cast include Gerald McRaney, Michaela Conlin ("Bones'') and television's current "MacGyver,'' Lucas Till. DVD extra: "making-of'' documentary. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on On Demand)
Also Releasing this Week:
"Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love": A sequel to last year's high-rated "Coat of Many Colors,'' this drama -- televised recently by NBC -- continues the saga inspired by a song by Parton, who's an executive producer here (and also introduces and narrates the film). Jennifer Nettles, Rick Schroder and (as the young Dolly) Alyvia Alyn Lind all return as the members of the rural Tennessee family who face new challenges, including a holiday blizzard and the patriarch's financial struggles to give his wife a proper wedding ring. Co-star Gerald McRaney also is back, and Nettles performs the never-before-recorded Parton song "Circle of Love.'' DVD extras: three "making-of'' documentaries; deleted scenes. *** (Not rated)
"Hitchcock/Truffaut": A conversation between two of the seminal film directors of the 20th century is recalled in director Kent Jones' excellent documentary, shown earlier this year by HBO and based on a 1962 interview Francois Truffaut conducted with Alfred Hitchcock over eight days. The resulting book has had a profound impact on moviemakers who followed, a number of whom offer comments here -- including Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Paul Schrader and Wes Anderson. The comments are illustrated by clips that any devotee of Hitchcock and/or Truffaut works are sure to recognize immediately. **** (PG-13: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"The Dressmaker" (Dec. 27): A stylish woman's (Kate Winslet) return to her Australian hometown is tinged with a taste for revenge against those who maligned her. (R: AS, P, V)
"Snowden" (Dec. 27): Oliver Stone's drama casts Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the source of the leak of many classified documents. (R: AS, N, P)
"Blair Witch: (Jan. 3): In a familiar premise, several young people enter a Maryland forest to search for those who vanished in "The Blair Witch Project.'' (R: AS, P)
"The Lion Guard: Life in the Pride Lands" (Jan. 10): The legend of ``The Lion King'' continues in episodes from the animated Disney Channel and Disney Junior series. (Not rated)
"Mr. Robot Season 2.1" (Jan. 10): The sophomore round of the acclaimed USA Network series, starring Emmy winner Rami Malek and Christian Slater, comes to home video. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"The Light Between Oceans" (Jan. 24): A childless, island-bound couple (Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander) claims an infant they find as their own. (PG-13: AS, P)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Flight" (2012): Denzel Washington is outstanding as a pilot whose personal vices come to the fire after the crash of a passenger jet he was flying. *** (Also on Blu-ray) "The Magnificent Seven" (1960): Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn play members of the bandit-fighting group. **** (Also on Blu-ray) "Psycho" (1960): Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller stars Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, with whom an embezzler (Janet Leigh) is unlucky to cross paths. **** (Also on Blu-ray)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending December 4, 2016, Courtesy of comScore)
1) "Bad Moms"
2) "Mechanic: Resurrection"
3) "Nine Lives"
4) "Hell or High Water"
5) "Sausage Party"
6) "Finding Dory"
7) "Independence Day: Resurgence"
8) "Lights Out"
9) "Central Intelligence"
10) "The Legend Of Tarzan"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence