(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 BFG'': The king of them for some time, Steven Spielberg had been away from fantasy stories for a while when he tackled Roald Dahl's story -- adapted by the late Melissa Mathison, also Spielberg's "E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial'' writer -- about an orphan (Ruby Barnhill) who's taken to Giant Country by a really tall fellow who's friendlier than most others of his kind. He's played in a motion-capture performance by Mark Rylance, who won an Oscar for Spielberg's preceding film, "Bridge of Spies.'' The child attracts the attention of the more sinister giants, leading her and her sizable new pal to seek help from no one less than Queen Elizabeth (Penelope Wilton). Jemaine Clement and Bill Hader also lend the talents needed to generate some of the other characters in the tale, which isn't as magical as other Spielberg projects but still unique. *** (PG: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Pete's Dragon": Not unlike the recent Disney remake of "The Jungle Book,'' this ultimately affecting update of another of the studio's classics foregoes the traditional animation of the original version to use very good computer graphics in bringing the title creature to "life.'' Oakes Fegley plays young orphan Pete, who tells a concerned ranger (Bryce Dallas Howard) that he survived his years in a forest with the help of a dragon ... and she doesn't count out his story, since her father (Robert Redford, who might not be expected in a movie of this nature) maintained he made the same friend long ago. The man becomes determined to disprove skeptics by offering proof by finding the dragon. Karl Urban ("Star Trek'') and Wes Bentley also star. *** (PG: P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie": With the international popularity of Jennifer Saunders (also the writer here) and Joanna Lumley as high-living British chums Edina and Patsy, it was inevitable that they would bring back the television-based characters in some form. This feature-film version turned out to be that vessel, with their new misadventures largely prompted by a fashion party at which they're suspected of interfering with the safety of Kate Moss (appearing as herself). The resulting media mayhem sends them fleeing to the French Riviera. Jon Hamm, Joan Collins, singer-actress Lulu ("To Sir, With Love''), "Dancing With the Stars'' judge Bruno Tonioli and talk-show host Graham Norton also appear. DVD extras: nine "making-of'' documentaries; deleted scenes; outtakes; photo gallery. *** (R: AS, P)
Also Releasing this Week:
"Don't Breathe": Some neat twists are built into this thriller, which gets a major assist from a typically fine performance by Stephen Lang ("Avatar''), playing the supposedly helpless target of three young thieves (Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto). A blind war veteran, he seems to suit their purposes for a home invasion ... but he turns out not to be as much at their mercy as they expected, and the situation soon turns the other way around big-time. Director Fede Alvarez also worked with Levy on the update of "Evil Dead.'' DVD extras: five "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by Lang, Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues; deleted scenes. *** (R: AS, P, GV) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"House of Lies: The Final Season": The Showtime comedy series about an ever-driven management-consultancy firm came to its end earlier this year with this set of episodes, which starts with Jeannie (Kristen Bell, who went right into another show with NBC's "The Good Place'') taking a new job elsewhere while trying to co-parent with Marty (Don Cheadle). Before long, though, she returns to her former professional base -- and deals with clients involved with such matters as marijuana, music and murder. The last episode, which would turn out to be the entire show's finale, was filmed on location in Cuba. Co-stars Ben Schwartz and Josh Lawson also wrap up their roles. Guest stars include Wanda Sykes, Steven Weber and Michael Cudlitz ("The Walking Dead''). *** (Not rated: AS, N, V)
"Baked in Brooklyn": It's interesting that this seriocomic comes to home video the same week as the last season of "House of Lies,'' since some of the themes are the same. After a young New Yorker's (Josh Brener) work for a consulting company is terminated, he turns to selling marijuana and turns a handy profit ... but also puts his friendships and even his life at risk. Alexandra Daddario ("San Andreas'') plays his girlfriend, who has major doubts about his new career. Lindsey Broad ("The Office'') and veteran actress Tovah Feldshuh also are featured. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Jason Bourne" (Dec. 6): Matt Damon returns as the former CIA operative, enlisted to help expose questionable agency initiatives. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"The Secret Life of Pets" (Dec. 6): Two dogs (voices of Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet) run away and find a society of abandoned pets in New York City in this animated hit. (PG: AS)
"Ben-Hur" (Dec. 13): Jack Huston has the title role in this remake of the classic saga of a prince who returns from slavery to reclaim his birthright. (PG-13: V)
"Bridget Jones' Baby" (Dec. 13): Indeed, the Englishwoman (Renee Zellweger) is expecting a child, but she's not completely sure who the father is. (R: AS, N, P)
"Florence Foster Jenkins" (Dec. 13): Meryl Streep plays a socialite who aspires to a singing career ... though she can't sing; Hugh Grant also stars as her hugely supportive husband. (PG-13: AS, P)
"Suicide Squad" (Dec. 13): Criminals are sent on a government mission in this DC Comics-inspired adventure; stars include Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Jurassic Park" (1993): The original film in the franchise about a modern site populated with dinosaurs remains one of Steven Spielberg's best fantasy-adventures; Laura Dern stars. **** (Also on Blu-ray)
"To Sir, With Love" (1967): Sidney Poitier gives one of his best performances as a novice teacher trying to educate a class of young London toughs. **** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Willy Wonka & The chocolate Factory" (1971): Gene Wilder memorably embodied the title "Candy Man'' in this classic version of a Roald Dahl story. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending November 13, 2016, Courtesy of comScore)
1) "The Legend Of Tarzan"
2) "Central Intelligence"
3) "Star Trek Beyond"
4) "X-Men: Apocalypse"
6) "The Purge: Election Year"
7) "Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates"
8) "Ice Age: Collision Course"
10) "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence