(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.)
"Blair Witch": The "found footage'' concept popularized by "The Blair Witch Project'' has been used so many times since, it costs this second effort at a sequel to the original film. James Allen McCune plays the brother of the first story's Heather, determined to find out exactly what happened to her by venturing with friends into the Maryland forest where she and her companions presumably met their fates. Callie Hernandez ("La La Land''), Brandon Scott and Valorie Curry also are in the cast of the very familiar-feeling tale. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; audio commentary by director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett. ** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Denial": A courtroom debate over the existence of the Holocaust ensues when an author (Rachel Weisz) is sued by a denier of the event (Timothy Spall) in this true drama, directed by Mick Jackson ("The Bodyguard'') and adapted by David Hare from a book by the historical writer in question, Deborah E. Lipstadt. Charged with libel, she's handed the burden of proof under British law, so she has to verify that the Holocaust actually did happen. Tom Wilkinson, Andrew Scott (who worked with Weisz's husband, Daniel Craig, in "Spectre'') and Mark Gatiss also star. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life": Though author James Patterson is best-known for thrillers on the order of "Kiss the Girls'' and "Zoo,'' he also had success as the co-writer of this story of a youngster (played by former "Red Band Society'' co-star Griffin Gluck) who becomes the unlikely inspiration for a revolt by his fellow students at his new school. The principal (Andy Daly) is a tyrant, setting up a far-reaching battle of wills between the administrator and the pupils. Lauren Graham, Rob Riggle, Adam Pally ("The Mindy Project'') and Retta ("Parks and Recreation'') also are in the cast for director Steve Carr ("Paul Blart: Mall Cop''). DVD extras: four "making-of'' documentaries; deleted scenes; outtakes. *** (PG: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Bones: Season 11": With the long-running Fox mystery series' final round about to start, this next-to-last season resumes from a point where some people thought it might have been the show's end then. Supposedly retired from the Jeffersonian Institute, Brennan and Booth (Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz) are drawn back in by a case with a very familiar-looking victim. Kim Raver appears in a couple of the early episodes, with Betty White returning in one story. The set also includes one of the more unusual stories "Bones'' has done -- its crossover with "Sleepy Hollow,'' including guest appearances by Tom Mison and the other series' then-co-star Nicole Beharie. DVD extras: deleted scenes; outtakes. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)
Also Releasing this Week:
"Jackie Chan Presents: Amnesia": Though the martial-arts legend -- now the recipient of an honorary Oscar -- isn't a cast member of this adventure, he does have strong ties to it as its executive producer, also having starred in the original version (known in America as "Who Am I?''). The story involves a courier who loses his memory after being chased at a murder scene, and his memory loss means he can't identify his pursuers -- who have framed him for the homicide. A hitchhiker may be the only means for the parcel carrier to clear and save himself. Ken Lo and Xingtong Yao star. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"The Ultimate Legacy": The latest in the series of "Ultimate'' screen dramas -- based on Jim Stovall's books -- that also have included "The Ultimate Gift'' and "The Ultimate Life,'' this drama again casts Logan Bartholomew as Jason Stevens, now the impromptu counselor to a young man (Myko Olivier) who only will earn his inheritance after operating his family's bed-and-breakfast for a year. Resentful of that condition at first, he comes to embrace what it means for his personal growth. Raquel Welch, Brian Dennehy, Lee Meriwether and Bill Cobbs are among the veteran cast members in the film, which was shown on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. *** (Not rated: AS)
"Deepwater Horizon" (Jan. 10): In the true drama, Mark Wahlberg plays a supervisor aboard the title oil rig when it's wracked by an explosion. (PG-13: P, V)
"Max Steel" (Jan. 10): A teen (Ben Winchell) and an alien (voice of Josh Brener) unite to form a team to battle extraterrestrial threats. (PG-13: V)
"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 Birth of a Nation" (Jan. 10): Writer-director Nate Parker plays Nat Turner, the slave who ultimately inspired a rebellion. (R: AS, N, V)
"Ouija: Origin of Evil" (Jan. 17): A fake medium (Elizabeth Reaser) puts herself and her daughters in peril when she summons actual supernatural forces. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"The Girl on the Train" (Jan. 17): Emily Blunt stars as a troubled commuter who believes harm has come to a woman she frequently has observed. (R: AS, N, 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:
"The Blair Witch Project" (1999): The thriller that set the pace for a whole subcategory of horror tales stars Heather Donahue and Joshua Leonard. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"The Constant Gardener" (2005): Rachel Weisz won an Oscar as a woman whose fate is probed by her husband (Ralph Fiennes) in the John le Carre story. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Rush Hour" (1998): One of Jackie Chan's biggest hits, this action-comedy teams him with Chris Tucker as dissimilar cops paired to find a diplomat's kidnapped daughter. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending December 11, 2016, Courtesy of comScore)
1) "Finding Dory"
2) "Bad Moms"
3) "Ben Hur"
4) "Mechanic: Resurrection"
5) "Pete's Dragon"
6) "Independence Day: Resurgence"
7) "The Legend Of Tarzan"
8) "Suicide Squad"
9) "Sausage Party"
10) "Central Intelligence"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence