(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.)
"XXX: Return if Xander Cage": Fifteen years after he launched the franchise, Vin Diesel is reasonably fast and somewhat furious in this action sequel that finds the title spy using his extreme-sports skills again as an enemy faction starts manipulating military satellites for its own purposes. Samuel L. Jackson also returns as Cage's handler, but particularly welcome are such colorful newcomers to the saga as Toni Collette, Ruby Rose ("Orange Is the New Black'') and Nina Dobrev ("The Vampire Diaries''). Donnie Yen also is effective as the chief villain, but the real stars of the movie are the stunt experts whose services are called upon frequently over the course of the story. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Resident Evil: The Final Chapter": If this is indeed the final stand of the franchise, it goes out with a bang -- and most of the typical trademarks of writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson. Milla Jovovich is back one more time as heroine Alice, the lone survivor of mankind's all-out offensive against the undead in the preceding chapter, "Resident Evil: Retribution.'' It's up to her to make a last strike against the sinister Hive by doing so from within. Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts and Iain Glen ("Game of Thrones'') also are back from earlier installments, with Ruby Rose (having a big sequel week on home video) and Eoin Macken ("The Night Shift'') joining the action here. DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries. *** (R: P, GV) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this Week:
"The Kennedys: After Camelot": Recently televised by Reelz and based on J. Randy Taraborrelli's book "After Camelot: A Personal History of the Kennedy Family -- 1968 to the Present,'' this sequel to the Emmy-winning drama "The Kennedys'' examines events in the political family's lives during the years indicated. Katie Holmes (who also shares directing credit with Jon Cassar here) reprises her portrayal of the widowed Jacqueline Kennedy, whose relationship with Aristotle Onassis (Alexander Siddig) gets major attention. Also considered: the fatal Chappaquiddick Island, Mass., car accident involving Ted Kennedy (played by Matthew Perry, who also gets an executive-producer credit on the project, as does Holmes), and the plane-tragedy-ended marriage of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette (Brett Donahue, Erica Cox). *** (Not rated: AS, P)
"Africa's Greatest Civilizations": Though he often focuses his television work on individuals' genealogy, Henry Louis Gates Jr. considers an entire culture in this recently broadcast PBS miniseries. He begins in locations such as Kenya and Egypt with "Origins,'' tracing the roots and early migration of Homo sapiens and proceeding through the evolution of Islam. Then, in "The Cross and the Crescent,'' Gates recalls the development of Christianity and Islam, plus African religious figures. "Empires of Gold'' examines how trade and education turned North and West Africa into thriving centers of wealth and learning, while "Cities'' visits locales that helped foster a rise in art and industry. "The Atlantic Age'' examines the spectrum of trade, and finally, "Commerce and the Clash of Civilization'' recalls how 19th-century Africa was targeted for its riches by European concerns. *** (Not rated: AS) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Duck Dynasty: Season 11 - The Final Season": A television "Dynasty'' did come to an end recently, indeed, with the sign-off of the duck-calling Robertson family's decidedly unique and long-popular unscripted series made for A&E Network. This concluding round encompasses an adoption, a marriage and a significant birthday as the clan closes out its television run ... at least for the time being. If a single round of the show just isn't enough, there's also "Duck Dynasty: The Complete Series,'' combining all 11 seasons and 130 episodes of the program. *** (Not rated)
"Get Out" (May 23): Writer-director Jordan Peele's melodrama puts twists in an interracial couple's (Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams) weekend getaway. (R: AS, P, V)
"The Great Wall" (May 23): Matt Damon plays a mercenary who's among the warriors battling fearsome creatures at the Chinese structure. (PG-13: V)
"Logan" (May 23): Hugh Jackman has his last turn (apparently) as the "X-Men'' character, who gets his claws out again to help a super-powered youngster (Dafne Keen) evade villains. (R: AS, P, V)
"Fist Fight'' (May 30): After one teacher (Charlie Day) causes the firing of another (Ice Cube), an after-school bout between them is in the offing. (R: AS, N, P)
"Hart to Hart: The complete Series" (May 30): The entire five-season run of the Robert Wagner-Stefanie Powers mystery show is compiled in a new boxed set. (Not rated: AS, V)
"A Cure for Wellness" (June 6): A company man (Dane DeHaan) heads for the Swiss Alps to retrieve his boss from a spa that isn't what it seems. (R: AS, N, P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Ender's Game" (2013): A youngster (Asa Butterfield) is appointed the leader of a intergalactic fight against aliens; Harrison Ford and Viola Davis also star. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Find Me Guilty" (2005) Vin Diesel tried something different -- including hair -- in this Sidney Lumet-directed drama of a mobster who mulls testifying against others. ***
"The Greek Tycoon" (1978): A loose but easily recognizable dramatization of the Kennedy-Onassis romance stars Jacqueline Bisset and Anthony Quinn. ***
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending April 30, 2017, Courtesy of comScore)
2) "Fantastic Beasts and Where to FindThem"
3) "Why Him?"
4) "Assasins Creed"
5) "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"
6) "La La Land"
7) "Monster Trucks"
8) "Office Christmas Party"
9) "Live by Night"
10) "Collateral Beauty"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.