(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 Meg": A prehistoric shark the size of a small island targets an undersea research vessel and its crew in director Jon Turteltaub's thriller, which proved to have real teeth -- sorry, we had to -- at the summer box office. Action veteran Jason Statham plays the chiseled leader of a rescue team, though he remains haunted by a tragedy from his seafaring past. The film's sneak-up-and-scare-you technique may not be the most original, but it's still effective. The intriguing supporting cast includes such familiar television faces as Rainn Wilson ("The Office''), Robert Taylor ("Longmire'') and Masi Oka ("Heroes,'' "Hawaii Five-0''). DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries. *** (PG-13: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Star Trek Discovery - Season One": Though the first episode also aired in the CBS broadcast network, most of this latest entry in the enduring sci-fi franchise will be new to those who haven't watched it on the CBS All Access streaming service. Sonequa Martin-Green is the central cast member as a crew member of the starship Discovery who was raised as a Vulcan, giving her unique insight into relationships among cultures both on and off the vessel. Jason Isaacs plays the ship's captain, with Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman and Wilson Cruz also among the regular cast members. Michelle Yeoh, Rainn Wilson and James Frain also appear. The show's second season -- which will include the iconic character Spock, as played by Ethan Peck -- is scheduled to launch in January. DVD extras: 10 "making-of'' documentaries. *** (Not rated: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Mile 22": Mark Wahlberg reteams with "Lone Survivor'' director Peter Berg for this intense adventure about a covert CIA operative trying to protect an information source (Iko Uwais). Time is of the essence as they head for an airplane 22 miles away, since the contact has the code that will unlock valuable facts -- and the disc containing them will self-destruct within hours. A fellow agent (Lauren Cohan, "The Walking Dead'') who was wounded during an earlier, related operation also is a part of the mission. John Malkovich, WWE's Ronda Rousey, Terry Kinney and filmmaker Berg also appear. DVD extras: theatrical trailers; seven "making-of'' documentaries. *** (R: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Alpha": Reminiscent of "The Revenant'' in several ways, this grueling outdoor drama features Kodi Smit-McPhee ("Let Me In'') as a young man who must fend for himself after an Ice Age hunting expedition leaves him injured and left to his own inventions. A wolf, also left on its own, gives the youth a challenge and then a companion in a struggle for wilderness survival as winter approaches. Director Albert Hughes' ("Menace II Society'') cast also includes Johannes Haukur Johannesson ("Game of Thrones'') and Leonor Varela ("Captive''), with Morgan Freeman serving as the story's narrator. DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this Week:
"The Crown: The Complete Second Season": Though she recently won an Emmy Award for this round of the much-acclaimed Netflix drama series about the British monarchy, Claire Foy wrapped up her run as Queen Elizabeth II here -- though the character will continue in later years in the hands of another actress (Olivia Colman). The season opens with marital strife between Elizabeth and husband Phillip (Matt Smith), who is suspected of infidelity by her. On the international front, the struggle over control of the Suez Canal is a major concern, with a constitutional crisis and the Profumo scandal yet to come. Vanessa Kirby, Matthew Goode, Victoria Hamilton, Jeremy Northam, Jodi Balfour and Michael C. Hall also are featured. **** (Not rated: AS) (Also on Blu-ray)
"A Christmas Story Live": The leg lamp and the warning that "You'll shoot your eye out'' remain as familiar faces including Matthew Broderick, Jane Krakowski, Maya Rudolph and Ana Gasteyer join young newcomer Andy Walken -- the winner of a national search to fill the role of Ralphie -- in this Fox-televised version of the stage musical based on the Jean Shepherd-inspired 1983 movie. Here, Ralphie still wants desperately to find a Red Ryder BB gun as his present under his family's holiday tree. The production's tunes were devised by Oscar and Tony winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul ("La La Land,'' "Dear Evan Hansen''), who created several new songs beyond the ones featured in the stage show that has had national tours and a Broadway run. *** (Not rated)
"Crazy Rich Asians'' (Nov. 20): A New Yorker (Constance Wu) gets a big dose of her boyfriend's (Henry Golding) family when he takes her to Singapore for his best friend's wedding. (PG-13: AS, P)
"Dog Days" (Nov. 20): Canines have pronounced effects on several people, including a barista (Vanessa Hudgens) with a conveniently connected customer. (PG: AS, P)
"Sharp Objects" (Nov. 27): Amy Adams plays a reporter back in her hometown to probe a troubling story in the HBO drama based in Gillian Flynn's novel. (Not rated: AS, N, P, V)
"The Handmaid's Tale: Season Two" (Dec. 4): A pregnant Offred (Elisabeth Moss) continues her fight to ensure a better world for her forthcoming child. (Not rated: AS, N, P, V)
"The Happytime Murders" (Dec. 4): A puppet sleuth and his human ex-partner (Melissa McCarthy) investigate the killings of the stars of a popular TV show. (R: AS, P, V)
"Mission: Impossible - Fallout" (Dec. 4): Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), his team and a CIA agent (Henry Cavill) pursue enemies who possess stolen plutonium. (PG-13: P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Chapter Two" (1979): Included in a new eight-movie set of the playwright's works, this comedy drama -- starring James Caan and Marsha Mason -- is based on Neil Simon's own marriage to Mason. ***
"The Man Who Loved Women" (1983): Burt Reynolds' starring role in director Blake Edwards' remake of a classic French comedy is part of a new four-movie collection showcasing the late actor. ***
"Single White Female" (1992): After a breakup, a woman advertises for a roommate (Bridget Fonda) and attracts a dangerous respondent (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in a new Blu-ray edition of the melodrama. ***
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending November 4, 2018, Courtesy of comScore, Inc)
1) "Ant-Man and the Wasp"
3) "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation"
4) "The Spy Who Dumped Me"
5) "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again"
6) "The First Purge"
7) "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"
8) "Sicario: Day of the Soldado"
9) "Solo: A Star Wars Story"
10) "Slender Man"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence