[caption id="attachment_206802" align="alignleft" width="300"] Universal[/caption]
This week: All crime, including murder, is legal for one 12-hour period a year in "The Purge," a horror thriller in which Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey play a married couple that tries to keep their family safe during the annual event after an intruder gains access to their fortified home.
[caption id="attachment_206803" align="alignright" width="220"] Universal[/caption]
Box Office: $64 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 38% Rotten
Storyline: In the near future, crime has been reduced to a minimum as the New Founders have instituted the Purge: an annual 12-hour period when all crime, including murder, is legal. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a security-system salesman who feels pretty confident that his wife (Lena Headey) and two children will be safe during the Purge as they bunker down in their fortified home, but an unforeseen event allows an intruder to enter their house and sets off a series of events that will have the Sandins fighting to live through the night in this unsettling horror film from the producer of "Paranormal Activity," "Insidious" and "Sinister."
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain "Surviving the Night: The Making of 'The Purge,'" featuring interviews with Hawke, Headey and more.
We Say: The premise of the Purge is intriguing and deserves further exploration on screen, as the possibilities are endless if you show what is going on around the country during an annual event when anything goes. In the movie "The Purge," however, the action is limited to a single house, so the movie becomes a simple game of cat and mouse, albeit a violent and often nerve-rattling one. To enjoy it, you'll need to mentally move beyond the fact that one kid can unwittingly unleash this much hell on his family. What is the lesson to be gleaned from "The Purge"? If you find that the safety of your family depends on keeping your family locked up while murder is legal outside, it might be prudent to not allow your overly sensitive child access to the home's security codes — his bleeding heart will cause all kinds of literal bleeding.
'The Hangover Part III'
[caption id="attachment_206801" align="alignright" width="220"] Warner Bros.[/caption]
Box Office: $112 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 19% Rotten
Storyline: Two years after the Bangkok incident in "The Hangover Part II," Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are happily living uneventful lives until Alan (Zach Galifianakis) goes off his meds and triggers a final outrageous adventure for the Wolfpack as disaster magnet Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) escapes from a Thai prison. Todd Phillips returns to direct this conclusion of the comedy trilogy.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain "Replacing Zach: The Secret Auditions," "The Wolfpack's Wildest Stunts," "Pushing the Limits," "Inside Focus: The Real Chow," extended scenes, outtakes and more.
We Say: The fun of the first two "Hangover" movies is seeing the guys wake up after a night of debauchery and try to piece together what happened. This doesn't happen at the beginning of "Part III," which plays more like a goofy adventure that hates animals (a giraffe, dogs, chickens) with an inexplicable fury and has too much of the grating racial-stereotype humor from the Chow character, who should really be in the background and not front and center like he is here. It's fun to see John Goodman as the pissed-off criminal after Chow, Melissa McCarthy as the pawn-shop love interest of Alan and the return of Heather Graham as the former prostitute with the baby from the first film, but it's unfortunate that the film's funniest scene is the post-credits one in which the guys wake up after Alan's wild wedding and discover an unexpected augmentation.
[caption id="attachment_206799" align="alignright" width="220"] Sony[/caption]
Box Office: $61 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 11% Rotten
Storyline: When the spaceship carrying Cypher Raige (Will Smith) and his son Kitai (Jaden Smith) crash-lands on a long-abandoned Earth, Kitai is the only survivor physically able to traverse the dangerous human-hating terrain and set off an emergency beacon located in the broken ship's tail some 100 km away. M. Night Shyamalan directs this PG-13 sci-fi adventure.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray have "A Father's Legacy," featuring Will and Jaden on- and off-screen; a tour of the beautiful physical locations; and the "Xprize 'After Earth' Challenge" winning video. Blu-ray exclusives include an alternate opening, "Building a World," "The Animatics of 'After Earth'" and "Previsualizing the Future."
We Say: At this point, if you watch a Shyamalan picture you deserve what you get ("The Sixth Sense" was a lonnnnnng time ago). Will Smith is one of the most charismatic actors alive, yet here he is reduced to a stoic, robotic military drone who does little else except intone dull instructions to his son. Leading man Jaden Smith — out to save his on-screen pop and try to live up to Papa Smith's box office legacy — is left to battle a series of silly-looking CG critters (a leech, baboons, a giant hawk, a pack of lions) before facing the boss video game baddie: the Cypher, an alien that can literally smell fear. Jaden must learn to control his fear to escape the Cypher's wrath, and your fear of sitting through another shoddy Shyamalan movie is totally justified.
[caption id="attachment_206800" align="alignright" width="220"] Magnolia[/caption]
Box Office: $123,263
Rotten Tomatoes: 77% Fresh
Storyline: This found-footage sci-fi movie chronicles mankind's first crewed mission to Europa, one of Jupiter's moons covered in an ocean of ice. Despite a disastrous communications failure that cuts them off from mission control and the death of a crewman, the remaining members continue their ill-fated mission to Europa and discover something that could change the world. Sharlto Copley and Michael Nyqvist are among the crew members in this modestly-budgeted picture directed by Sebastian Cordero.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain deleted scenes and a featurette on the visual effects.
We Say: Although the found-footage technique can come across as gimmicky and cheap in other films, it works here as the ship's cameras realistically document every aspect of the crew's historic journey. This is a stylish little sci-fi gem that makes the most of its limited budget and generates a lot of tension as the mission becomes increasingly perilous. It all leads up to a final zinger that astronomy nerds might guess is coming but will leave others to shriek in shock and surprise.
Also New This Week:
"American Horror Story: Asylum"
"Chucky: The Complete Collection"
"The Exorcist" 40th Anniversary Blu-ray
"Fantastic Voyage" Blu-ray
"Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray
"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" Blu-ray
"Airplane II: The Sequel" Blu-ray
"Nothing Left to Fear"