Writer Joseph J. Airdo // Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Listen to the podcast version of this story, featuring interview soundbites and audio clips from this weekend’s new releases.

This weekend’s new releases include a pulse-pounding thriller that pits a family against a rogue lion and a horror prequel that pits a mother against a murderous woman who is posing as her missing daughter.

In “Beast,” Idris Elba plays a recently widowed husband who returns to South Africa, where he first met his wife, on a long-planned trip with their daughters to a game reserve managed by an old family friend and wildlife biologist — played by Sharlto Copely. What begins as a journey of healing jolts into a fearsome fight for survival when a lion — a survivor of blood-thirsty poachers who now sees all humans as the enemy — begins stalking them. The pulse-pounding thriller is playing exclusively in theaters.

In “Orphan: First Kill,” Isabelle Fuhrman plays a woman who, after orchestrating a brilliant escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, travels to America by impersonating the missing daughter of a wealthy family. When an unexpected twist arises, she is pitted against a mother who will protect her family from the murderous woman at any cost. The prequel to the 2009 horror film “Orphan” is playing in select theaters and streaming on Paramount+.

In “Look Both Ways,” Lili Reinhart plays a college graduate whose life diverges into parallel realities — one in which she becomes pregnant and remains in her hometown and another in which she does not and moves to Los Angeles. In both journeys, she experiences life-changing love, pursues her dream career as an artist and rediscovers herself. The romantic dramedy is streaming exclusively on Netflix.

Listen to Joseph’s podcast review of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.”

In “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” Tatiana Maslany plays an attorney who, having suddenly gained the Hulk’s incredible strength, is adamantly determined to prevent her newfound superpowers from interfering with her career. Reluctantly accepting the name appointed to her by the media, she releases her inner green 6-foot-7-inch She-Hulk and starts specializing in superhuman-oriented legal cases. The nine-episode series that is set within the Marvel superhero universe is streaming exclusively on Disney+.

Whether you fight for survival against a blood-thirsty beast, adopt a murderous orphan, look both ways or retain legal representation by She-Hulk, this weekend’s new releases provide a healthy dose of escapist entertainment.