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DVD reviews: 'The Hangover Part III,' 'The Purge' and 'After Earth'

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 6:56 p.m.
This undated publicity photo released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows (from left) Justin Bartha as Doug, Zach Galfianakis as Alan, Ed Helms as Stu and Bradley Cooper as Phil in 'The Hangover Part III.'

“The Hangover Part III” (2013, R, 100 min., $28.98). Even though it's a bit better than the second installment of “The Hangover” trilogy, the third is just as forgettable. Writer-director Todd Phillips takes “The Hangover Part III” in a decidedly dark direction, abandoning the drunken debauchery for more of an action movie that puts Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) on a mission to track down Chow (Ken Jeong), a volatile party animal from the first two films. If the boys can't track down Chow, a gangster named Marshall (John Goodman) kills Doug (Justin Bartha). Chow stole a bunch of money from Marshall in the past, and he wants it back. Those are the basics of the plot, and Phil, Stu and Alan go from Mexico to Las Vegas and back to save their friend's life. The storyline won't be a hit with fans of the franchise. Phillips deserves some credit for taking it in a new direction, but the follow through adds up to a boring failure that strips all the positives away from the predecessors. Two-disc DVD and Blu-ray packages hold all of the extras, including a few making-of featurettes, extended scenes and character examinations. 2 Stars.

“The Purge” (2013, R, 85 min., $29.98). When pundits look back at the 2013 box office, they'll undoubtedly point to “The Purge” as one of the biggest successes. Made on a shoestring budget, the sharp thriller from filmmaker James DeMonaco pulled in a ton of cash, and for good reason. Although the follow-through is shaky, “The Purge” carries an interesting original storyline that grabs viewers. The film takes place in the future in a world where for 12 hours of one day for the entire year crime doesn't carry any consequences. James Sandin's family prefers to stay locked inside, but after an intruder on the run from a murderous gang gets in the house, they have problems. Send out the intruder to die, or the gang comes in and kills everyone. DeMonaco's film is worth a look — based on its concept — but it jumps off the rails in the final act. It tries to make some points on society, but it doesn't know how. Ethan Hawke and Lena Headley are capable players in their lead roles. A beefy making-of featurette looks to be the only special feature, and it's available on Blu-ray and standard DVD. 2.5 Stars.

“After Earth” (2013, PG-13, 100 min., $30.99). The career of once-promising director M. Night Shyamalan has certainly taken a dive over the past few years, and “After Earth,” a science-fiction film that stars father-and-son combo Will and Jaden Smith, certainly won't do him any favors. While “After Earth” does some good stuff with special effects, the storyline is boring. Additionally, it makes little use of Will Smith's electric personality, giving him a stiff role with little impact. The film puts father Cypher (Will Smith) and his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) on a routine space trip that crashes on Earth, several years after humans abandoned it. Cypher is badly injured in the trip, so he has to depend on his son to find a beacon that will send for help. Kitai faces incredible odds on a planet that has evolved as one that's definitely not safe for humans. With Cypher fading fast, the young Kitai has to grow up quickly. Blu-ray and standard DVD packages carry plenty of special features, including featurettes that explore Will and Jaden working together and the featured landscapes. Blu-ray buyers will find a few additional extras, including a new opening sequence. 1.5 Stars.

“Much Ado About Nothing” (2012, PG-13, 109 min., $19.98). Filmmaker Joss Whedon provides his own take on William Shakespeare's legendary tale about sparring lovers. Whedon fans will find some of their favorite actors here, including Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Amy Acker and Alexis Deinsof.

“Stuck in Love” (2012, R, 97 min., $28.99). Josh Boone — currently filming “The Fault in our Stars” in Pittsburgh — makes his debut as a feature-length writer and director with this romantic drama about a family full of writers looking for their own love stories. Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear and Kristen Bell lead a talented cast.

“Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God” (2012, NR, 106 min., $26.95). Talented documentarian Alex Gibney, who never really takes a break, explores the secret crimes of Milwaukee priest Father Lawrence Murphy, who sexually abused a high number of deaf children in a school that was under his control.

“Chasing Ice” (2012, PG-13, 75 min., $29.95). A big winner on the festival circuit, “Chasing Ice,” from documentarian Jeff Orlowski, is the story of National Geographic photographer James Balog's mission to produce evidence that the planet is changing, and not in a good way, using time-lapse cameras.

“Berlin Job” (2012, NR, 109 min., $26.95). British gangsters are on the menu for “Berlin Job,” a thrilling drama from Frank Harper, who also stars. The film follows two cousins who get into some trouble when they lose track of a drug shipment belonging to the Russian mob. It leads them to try a dangerous heist in Germany.

“Europa Report” (2013, PG-13, 90 min., $26.98). When it's learned that there's a possibility that a hidden ocean exists on one of Jupiter's moons, a special team of astronauts is assembled to investigate. After a dangerous technical failure slows down the crew, they must decide if they want to push forward or find a way back.

“Nothing Left to Fear” (2013, R, 100 min., $26.98). Inspired by an urban legend in Kansas, this horror film follows a family that moves to the Midwest, where the father is taking a new job as a pastor. As the family settles in, weird things begin to happen. It soon becomes clear that a demonic force is taking aim at the new family.

“Curse of Chucky” (2013, R, 97 min., $29.98). The little killer doll named Chucky is back in this sixth addition to the murderous franchise that began in 1988. In this latest picture, Chucky arrives as a mysterious package to the house of a woman and her family. She doesn't think much of it until people start turning up dead. Also out this week: “Chucky: The Complete Collection, Limited Edition” (Includes “Child's Play,” “Child's Play 2,” “Child's Play 3,” “Bride of Chucky,” “Seed of Chucky” and “Curse of Chucky”; 2013, R, $59.98)

“Static” (2012, NR, 83 min., $26.95). A writer and his wife, dealing with the loss of their child, are visited in the middle of the night by a terrified girl who's on the run from masked intruders. When the stalkers catch up, the couple is forced into the middle of a terrifying situation. Milo Ventimiglia and Sara Paxton star.

“Resolution” (2012, NR, 93 min., $26.95). Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran are the main players in this film from Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson about a guy looking to get his best friend off of drugs. As the man puts his plan into motion, the process takes some unexpected turns, and the guys are forced to confront some personal demons.

“Dead in Tombstone” (2013, R, 100 min., $29.98) An action extravaganza, this blazing pic is set in a small town during the Gold Rush. When a violent gang arrives looking to take over, they suddenly kill their leader. Sentenced to an eternity in hell, the leader's offered a proposition by Satan that could reverse his course in the afterlife.


“Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: 30th Anniversary Edition” (1983, R, 103 min., $19.98)


“Bones: The Complete Eighth Season” (five discs, 24 episodes, $59.98)

“White Collar: The Complete Fourth Season” (four discs, 16 episodes, $39.98)

“Psych: The Complete Seventh Season” (three discs, 14 episodes, $59.98)

“90210: The Final Season” (five discs, 22 episodes, $47.99)

“The Guild: Season 6” (one disc, 12 episodes, $14.95) and “The Guild: Complete Megaset” (six discs, 70 episodes, $59.95)


“The Best of (The Original) An Evening at the Improv” (standup comedy, 2013, NR, four discs, 720 min., $29.98)

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