(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.)
"The Girl on the Train": Emily Blunt does an effective job as the deeply troubled commuter referenced by the title of director Tate Taylor's ("The Help'') melodrama, based on the best seller by Paula Hawkins. The divorced central character spies regularly from a passing train on her ex-husband (Justin Theroux), the woman who's now in his life (Rebecca Ferguson) and their baby ... but she also fixates on a neighboring couple, then comes to fear something tragic has happened to the wife (Haley Bennett). Allison Janney ("Mom'') is especially notable in the supporting cast as a police detective who's on the case. Luke Evans, Lisa Kudrow, Laura Prepon and Edgar Ramirez also appear. DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by Taylor; deleted and extended scenes. *** (R: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Ouija: Origin of Evil": A prequel to the first "Ouija'' movie, this thriller casts the typically reliable Elizabeth Reaser ("Mad Men'') as a late-1960s medium who involves her daughters (Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson) in her consultations. They begin using a Ouija board, first for others and then for themselves -- ultimately placing themselves in peril when a spirit with a link to World War II atrocities possesses the younger daughter. Henry Thomas ("E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial'') also stars as a priest who becomes involved in the situation; Doug Jones, of the upcoming series "Star Trek: Discovery,'' is featured. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"The Whole Truth": Keanu Reeves returns to the legal profession, which he also depicted -- albeit in a much different way -- in "The Devil's Advocate,'' in this drama that finds him trying to keep a friend's (Renee Zellweger) son (Gabriel Basso) out of prison. The teen has confessed to killing his own father (Jim Belushi), and evidence may help the attorney in his quest. However, a fellow lawyer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) starts her own investigation that ultimately complicates matters. The script is by playwright Nicholas Kazan, son of legendary director Elia and father of actress-writer Zoe. DVD extra: audio commentary by director Courtney Hunt. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this Week:
"Keeping Up with the Joneses": You never know who you might get as neighbors ... say, government spies. That's the occupation of the Joneses (Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot), who turn the lives of a nearby, too-settled couple (Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher) upside-down in this action-comedy from "Superbad'' director Greg Mottola. The situation gives quite a shot of needed excitement to the marriage of the latter duo, though whether they'll survive to enjoy the aftermath is a big question. Fisher is particularly engaging in a role that makes good use of her mannered daffiness, and comic Patton Oswalt has fun with his supporting role. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Surf's Up 2: Wavemania'': Since this made-for-video sequel to an Oscar-nominated feature was co-financed by WWE Studios, it makes sense that a number of wrestling icons -- including John Cena, Undertaker, Triple H and Mr. (Vince) McMahon -- are in the voice cast. The tale continues the saga of young penguin Cody Maverick, whose hopes of becoming a professional surfer get a boost when the extreme-surfing team known as The Hang 5 comes to his island, and he becomes their guide to a location with particularly awesome waves. Jon Heder and Diedrich Bader return from the original movie to supply vocals. DVD extras: four "making-of'' documentaries; outtakes. *** (PG: AS)
"Death Race 2050": A cult classic gets an update -- which only can mean more violent content, if possible, than there was four decades ago -- in this made-for-video reboot that's still under the aegis of iconic producer Roger Corman. Manu Bennett now plays Frankenstein, the towering (and half-mechanical) star of a coast-to-coast auto race in which unlucky pedestrians become the means of accruing points. The contest is one of the top attractions in a corporate-run America, personified by veteran actor Malcolm McDowell as its "Chairman,'' and Frankenstein has to overcome various threats to his champion status to stay on top of the game. Yancy Butler and Charlie Farrell also are in the cast. DVD extras: three "making-of'' documentaries. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"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)
"Inferno" (Jan. 24): Symbiologist Robert Langdon -- again played by Tom Hanks -- tries to stop a villain from releasing a lethal virus; Felicity Jones co-stars. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"The Man who Fell to Earth" (Jan. 24): The David Bowie-starring sci-fi classic gets "Limited Collector's Edition" treatment, with a vintage Bowie interview included. (R: AS, N)
"Masterminds" (Jan. 31): An armored-truck driver (Zach Galifianakis) becomes the fall guy for a thieving couple (Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson). (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"Pinocchio" (Jan. 31): The animated classic gets "Walt Disney Signature Collection'' treatment, with a bounty of bonus features including Walt Disney's own comments on the film. (G)
"Queen of Katwe" (Jan. 31): Mastering the game of chess has a major effect on a Ugandan youngster (Madina Nalwanga); David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong'o also star in the true drama. (PG: AS)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Death Race 2000'' (1975): Bystanders become targets for the reigning champ (David Carradine) and others in a transcontinental road race; Sylvester Stallone also stars. (Also on Blu-ray)
"Murder on the Orient Express" (1974): Agatha Christie's master sleuth Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney, heading an all-star cast) probes a homicide aboard the legendary locomotive. ****
"Speed" (1994): A Los Angeles policeman (Keanu Reeves) tries to thwart an extortionist's (Dennis Hopper) scheme involving a bomb planted aboard a city bus. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending Janury 1, 2017, Courtesy of comScore)
1) "Suicide Squad"
3) "War Dogs"
4) "Magnificent Seven"
6) "Bad Moms"
7) "Finding Dory"
8) "Kubo And The Two Strings"
9) "Pete's Dragon"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence