(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.)
"Ant-Man and the Wasp": He may be small in size, but Ant-Man is big on entertainment -- as proven by this sequel, actually more enjoyable than the first film in certain ways. Though it lets the Marvel Universe take a breath from the relentless action of most other movies in the franchise, there's sufficient mayhem in the Marvel tradition, but also a very welcome and substantial dose of humor. Paul Rudd is back as a star and co-writer as Ant-Man's mission involves something else of changeable size ... a whole building, namely the lab of scientist Hank Pym (again played by Michael Douglas). Bad guys want that lab, and also involved in making sure they don't get it is Pym's daughter, who becomes the new Wasp as played by Evangeline Lilly. Michelle Pfeiffer plays her mother, the original Wasp. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Whitney'': With the approval of the late music superstar's estate, director Kevin Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland'') delves into Whitney Houston's mystique through rare audio and video clips and new interviews. Expectedly, the content follows her road to becoming one of the most successful and legendary female performers in music history, scoring a record -- in the broader sense of the term -- by having seven number-one singles in a row on the U.S. charts. The film also follows Houston's move into movies, leading to an enormous hit with "The Bodyguard'' (co-star Kevin Costner is among the interviewees here), but it also examines her tumultuous personal life. Her relationships with husband and fellow music star Bobby Brown and daughter Bobbi Kristina are examined, as is the tragic and very premature end of Houston's life. Her mother Cissy also supplies telling comments. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on On Demand)
"Elvis Presley: The Searcher": Shown on HBO, this extensive documentary recalls the rise of one of the ultimate pop-culture icons in American history. Through fresh interviews with many people who were associated with him -- including ex-wife Priscilla, guitarist Scotty Moore, close friend Red West and such peers and admirers as Bruce Springsteen and (in one his last appearances on film) Tom Petty -- the path taken by Presley is traced from his early days with Sun Records through his sometimes controversial television appearances (that pelvis, don't you know) and into the 1960s, when his music and movies combined to make him a legend destined to endure to this day and beyond. Rare photographs and film footage underscore the comments from those who observed both the image and the man firsthand. The program also is available in a "Limited Collector's Edition'' with added features. *** (Not rated: AS, P)
"Arizona": An impressive cast populates director Jonathan Watson's "Fargo''-like comedy-drama about a woman (played by independent-film favorite Rosemarie DeWitt) whose life and work problems increase significantly when she's taken captive by a lethal fellow (Danny McBride, also a producer of the picture) who blames her and her real-estate firm for his woes during the 2009 housing crisis. Another hostage (Kaitlin Olson, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'') soon gets tied into the situation -- literally -- while the realtor's ex-husband (Luke Wilson) and his girlfriend (Elizabeth Gillies, "Dynasty'') try to find and help the prisoners. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)
Also Releasing this Week:
"The Affair: Season Four": It's no understatement to say that shocking developments occur in this round of the Showtime drama series, with Noah (Dominic West) relocating to the West Coast and taking an interest in a brilliant but combative student, while Helen (Maura Tierney) has a difficult time dealing with Vic's (Omar Metwally) illness. Alison (Ruth Wilson) remains at loose ends about -- well, you name it -- and Cole experiences stress in his marriage to Luisa (Catalina Sandino Moreno),who challenges his loyalty to her. Other members of the excellent acting ensemble during this season include Sanaa Lathan, Emily Browning, Mare Winningham, Tim Matheson and Dina Meyer. A fifth and final season of the show is coming. *** (Not rated: AS, N, P, V)
"Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance": You surely can guess the subject of this made-for-Lifetime movie -- originally shown the weekend before the latest royal wedding -- from its name, and the film has near-perfect look-alikes for the title couple in stars Murray Fraser (who gets to say the line, "But I love her!'') and Parisa Fitz-Henley ("Midnight, Texas''). Expectedly, the real royals weren't too happy about some of the occasionally amusing content purporting to know about out-of-the-limelight conversations, but the picture went ahead with its airdate despite such protests. Other doubles for famous Britons also appear, including Burgess Abernethy and Laura Mitchell as William and Kate. One familiar face present for other reasons is former "Rookie Blue'' regular Melanie Nicholls-King. *** (Not rated: AS)
"The Americans: The Complete Final Season" (Oct. 23): Russian spies Elizabeth and Philip (Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys) put the coda on their espionage adventures while posing as U.S. citizens. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Mama Mia! Here We Go Again" (Oct. 23): Much of the original movie musical's cast reunites -- including Meryl Streep, though her appearance is limited this time -- with Cher and Lily James as notable additions. Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Amanda Seyfried also return. (PG-13: AS, P)
"The Spy Who Dumped Me" (Oct. 30): Two friends (Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon) leave Los Angeles and race across Europe to stop a plot that threatens the world. (R: AS, N, P, V)
"2001: A Space Odyssey" (Oct. 30): In its 50th-anniversary year, director Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi classic makes its debut in the Ultra HD format; Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood star. (G)
"Incredibles 2" (Nov. 6): In the animated Disney-Pixar sequel, Elastigirl (voice of Holly Hunter) is called back into action while her husband (voice of Craig T. Nelson) plays "Mr. Mom'' at home. (PG: P)
"The Shield: The Complete Series" (Nov. 6): Michael Chiklis' image-changing, Emmy-winning portrayal of renegade cop Vic Mackey is showcased as the landmark FX drama makes its Blu-ray debut. (Not rated: AS, N, P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"The Bodyguard" (1992): Whitney Houston is a star in every sense as a music icon who needs protection from someone sending threats; Kevin Costner plays her defender. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"City Slickers" (1991): Three very modern friends (Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Bruno Kirby) set out to experience traditions of the Old West in a new Blu-ray ``Collector's Edition'' of the comedy. ***
"Traffic" (2000): Director Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning drama about the drug trade, starring Michael Douglas and Benicio Del Toro, is part of a new "Action 4-Movie'' collection. ****
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending October 7, 2018, Courtesy of comScore, Inc)
1) "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"
2) "Sicario: Day of the Soldado"
3) "The First Purge"
4) "Solo: A Star Wars Story"
5) "Ocean's 8"
6) "Deadpool 2"
7) "Uncle Drew"
9) "Avengers: Infinity War"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence