(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.)
"Fifty Shades Darker": Anyone who knows E.L. James' novels is aware the relationship of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey didn't end with "Fifty Shades of Grey,'' thus this James Foley-directed sequel that returns Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan to the roles. The story reflects what happened before and after "Ana'' became a part of Grey's world, with Kim Basinger as a woman who had much to do with his being who he is -- the prelude to a big reversal of interpersonal significance to each other for the couple. Marcia Gay Harden, Luke Grimes, Eloise Mumford and Rita Ora also reprise their roles from the first film, with Bella Heathcote and Eric Johnson ("Rookie Blue'') in the cast as well. The screenplay is by Niall Leonard, author James' husband. *** (R and unrated versions: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Orange is the New Black: Season 4": Life certainly doesn't get any easier for Piper (Taylor Schilling), who finds herself in very direct peril from other Litchfield inmates, in this round of the seriocomic and much-praised -- and often quite violent -- Netflix series developed and executive-produced by Jenji Kohan. A new chief of the guards is a factor in Maureen's (Emily Althaus) amped-up desire to escape, and the populations of new inmates and veterans are integrating, stirring new tensions on top of those already very present. Laverne Cox, Laura Prepon, Blair Brown, Kate Mulgrew and Lori Petty are among others continuing their roles. Season 5 of the show begins streaming in June. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; cast and crew commentaries; outtakes. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Divorce: The Complete First Season": Though Sarah Jessica Parker has a series affiliation with HBO again, anyone expecting another "Sex and the City'' is in for a surprise. In what's ostensibly a comedy but also has considerable drama, Parker and Thomas Haden Church ("Sideways'') play a couple who -- as the title indicates -- are in the process of ending their marriage. With the time that a weekly show allows, the effects of their breakup on others around them also are explored, with Molly Shannon, Talia Balsam and actor-playwright Tracy Letts ("Superior Donuts'') also in the cast. Parker has her hand in the program, which will be getting a Season 2, as an executive producer as well (along with Sharon Horgan, of "Catastrophe'' fame). DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; audio commentary by cast and crew members. *** (Not rated: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Beaches": The original 1988 movie directed by Garry Marshall remains so popular, many of its fans likely feel it doesn't need a remake ... but Lifetime went ahead with this recent and reasonably affecting one anyway, casting Idina Menzel and Nia Long in the earlier Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey parts as dissimilar women -- a singer and a lawyer -- whose lifelong friendship endures its share of hurdles. Given Menzel's "Frozen'' and "Wicked'' musical fame, it should come as little surprise that she belts out the ballad this story is linked to forever, "Wind Beneath My Wings.'' Gabriella Pizzolo and Grace Capeless have the central roles at younger ages, and for this version, director Allison Anders admitted she didn't want to tinker with Marshall's formula much. And she didn't. *** (Not rated: AS, P)
Also Releasing this Week:
"The Streets of San Francisco: The Complete Series": Producer Quinn Martin built his television dynasty on crime shows, and among the most successful was this 1970s ABC drama that teamed someone who already was an Oscar winner with someone who would be: Karl Malden as veteran cop Mike Stone, and Michael Douglas as relative rookie Steve Keller. Robert Wagner helped launch the series by appearing in its pilot episode, and later guests included such then-future stars as Nick Nolte, Tom Selleck and John Ritter. Douglas stayed until the fifth and final season, when he left to pursue his movie career and was succeeded (as a different character) by Richard Hatch. Darleen Carr made recurring appearances as Stone's daughter. *** (Not rated: AS, V)
"Mannix: The Complete Series": In an age when superspies such as James Bond and Matt Helm were using all sorts of gadgets to get the job done on the big screen, Joe Mannix was taking care of business simply by using the private-eye basics on television. The recently deceased Mike Connors was a major home-screen star of the 1960s and 1970s in this CBS adventure show (created by ``Columbo'' mentors Richard Levinson and William Link), which used computers as an investigative element early on, but largely stressed Mannix's own know-how -- not to mention the punches he frequently took from enemies -- as he solved a wide variety of mysteries over the program's eight-season life. In the second season, Gail Fisher joined the series as secretary Peggy Fair, a role that brought her an Emmy and two Golden Globes. Robert Reed also became a recurring cast member (at the same time he was making "The Brady Bunch'') as a helpful police lieutenant. *** (Not rated: AS, V)
"Duck Dynasty: Season 11 - The Final Season'' (May 16): Some family milestones arise for the Robertsons as they bring the curtain down on their unscripted series. (Not rated)
"Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" (May 16): Milla Jovovich is back one more time as Alice, trying to prevent the undead from erasing the last vestiges of mankind. (R: P, GV)
"The Space Between Us" (May 16): A teenager (Asa Butterfield) who was born on Mars comes to Earth to rendezvous with an ally (Britt Robertson). (PG-13: AS, P)
"XXX: Return of Xander Cage" (May 16): The superspy (Vin Diesel) sees action again when enemies try to use military satellites for sinister purposes; Samuel L. Jackson also returns. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"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)
Oldies But Goodies:
"The Rose" (1979): Bette Midler made a stunning starring screen debut as a Janis Joplin-esque rock star under crushing personal and professional pressures. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Sex and the City" (2008): Carrie and Mr. Big (Sarah Jessica Parker, Chris Noth) finally may get to the altar -- or not -- in the first movie spinoff of the series. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Stir Crazy" (1980): Two pals (Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor) are sent to prison wrongfully in this Sidney Poitier-directed comedy. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending April 23, 2017, Courtesy of comScore)
1) "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"
3) "Assassin's Creed"
4) "Collateral Beauty"
6) "Monster Trucks"
8) "Office Christmas Party"
9) "Patriots Day"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violenc