(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 Light Between Oceans": In director and screenwriter Derek Cianfrance's ("The Place Beyond the Pines'') affecting, well-acted adaptation of M.L. Stedman's best-seller, a lighthouse keeper and his wife -- played by Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander -- try to resolve being childless on the isolated island where they reside by claiming an infant they find drifting in a boat with its deceased father. Problems arise years later when the biological mother (Rachel Weisz) starts searching for her daughter, whom she believed to have died as well. The highly atmospheric quality of the drama, filmed in Australia and New Zealand, helps immensely here. Earlier "Breaker Morant'' co-stars Jack Thompson and Bryan Brown also appear. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Inferno": After "The Da Vinci Code'' and "Angels & Demons,'' novelist Dan Brown's adventures of symbiologist Robert Langdon -- again played by Tom Hanks -- continue with this third adventure in the screen series from returning director Ron Howard. After regaining consciousness in an Italian hospital, an amnesiac Langdon teams with a doctor (Felicity Jones, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'') to try to regain his memory and stop a villain's (Ben Foster) plan to deploy a widely lethal virus. DVD extras: six "making-of'' documentaries; deleted and extended scenes. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage": Nicolas Cage doesn't don uniforms all that often in his roles, but he's fully and appropriately attired in this fact-based saga as the captain of the title vessel, which is on a top-secret assignment toward the end of World War II when a Japanese submarine attacks it. The ship is wrecked, leaving its sailors in a desperate fight for survival in shark-laden waters. (This is the incident that Robert Shaw's Quint refers to in "Jaws.'') Thomas Jane, Tom Sizemore, Matt Lanter ("Timeless'') and James Remar also star in the tense adventure directed by Mario Van Peebles. DVD extra: "making-of'' documentary. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
Also Releasing this Week:
"The Monster": Actress-writer Zoe Kazan has been generating some of her own projects lately ("Ruby Sparks'' being one), but she places herself in the hands of filmmaker Bryan Bertino ("The Strangers'') for this melodrama that very possibly involves a literal monster. Kazan and Ella Ballentine -- who was seen recently as PBS' new "Anne of Green Gables'' -- play a divorcee and her daughter, who have a car accident en route to see the girl's father (Scott Speedman, "Felicity''). They end up stranded in a wooded area, where something mysterious and potentially very lethal pursues them. Aaron Douglas also stars. DVD extra: "making-of'' documentary. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Guardians of Oz": The character Dorothy is missing from this animated entry in the all-family franchise, but several other popular figures -- namely, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion (voices of Jeff Minnerly, Dino Andrade and Chuck Kourouklis) -- still are on hand. They fall victim to spells cast by witch Eviline (voice of Ambyr Childers), and their only hope of rescue lies with another sorceress (voice of Melissa Hutchison) and the flying monkey (voice of Steve Canon) who took Eviline's very special broom. "The Book of Life'' director Jorge Gutierrez co-wrote and executive-produced the film. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; four TV "mini''-episodes.*** (PG: V) (Also on On Demand)
"The Handmaiden": A Cannes Film Festival winner for its production design, director Park Chan-wook's ("Oldboy'') take on the Sarah Waters novel "Fingersmith'' transplants the plot from its original British setting to 1930s Korea, which then was under occupation by Japan. A Japanese woman's (Kim Min-hee) inheritance is targeted by her new Korean maid (Tae-ri Kim), with a con artist (Ha Jung-woo) pulling the figurative strings. However, unexpected relationships develop and complicate the scheme considerably. *** (Not rated: AS, P)
"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)
"Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" (Jan. 31): Tom Cruise returns as novelist Lee Child's military veteran turned troubleshooter; Cobie Smulders also stars. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: 50th Anniversary Edition" (Feb. 7): Katharine Hepburn won her second Oscar, opposite Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier, in the comedy-drama. (Not rated: AS, P)
"King Kong: Ultimate Editon" (Feb. 7): Director Peter Jackson's retelling of the saga gets an upgrade that includes a half-hour of deleted scenes; Adrien Brody and Naomi Watts star. (PG-13 and unrated versions: P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"The Danish Girl" (2015): Alicia Vikander earned an Oscar as the wife of a transgender artist (Eddie Redmayne) in this true drama. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"The Man Who Fell to Earth" (1976): The David Bowie-starring sci-fi classic gets "Limited Collector's Edition'' Blu-ray treatment, with a vintage Bowie interview included. ***
"The Wizard of Oz" (1939): Dorothy (Judy Garland) is whisked away to a magical land and makes some very special friends there in this all-time classic. **** (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