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updated: 10/6/2013 8:41 AM

DVD previews: 'After Earth,' 'Much Ado About Nothing'

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  • A would-be space ranger (Jaden Smith) contemplates how to save himself and his father in M. Night Shyamalan's "After Earth."

    A would-be space ranger (Jaden Smith) contemplates how to save himself and his father in M. Night Shyamalan's "After Earth."

Washington Post

Here's a look at DVDs coming out Tuesday, Oct. 8:

"After Earth" (PG-13, 100 minutes, Sony): Will Smith fans who have been eagerly awaiting their hero's next rock 'em, sock 'em action adventure will have to wait a little longer. His character in "After Earth" spends most of the sci-fi flick flat on his back with two broken legs. Instead, the film -- directed by M. Night Shyamalan from a script by Shyamalan and Gary Whitta -- is a vehicle for Smith's son, Jaden. The 14-year-old Smith is the real hero of "After Earth," a sentimental father-and-son melodrama set in a post-apocalyptic future in which humans have evacuated an uninhabitable Earth. When their spacecraft crash-lands on Earth, Gen. Cypher Raige (Smith senior) and his son Kitai (Smith junior) must navigate 100 kilometers of treacherous terrain filled with carnivorous beasts. Complicating matters: Dad is injured, and Kitai is young and impulsive. Contains some violence, blood and gore. Extras include "A Father's Legacy" featurette with Will and Jaden Smith; an on-location and "The Nature of the Future" featurettes. Also, on Blu-ray: alternate opening sequence; three other making-of featurettes.

"Much Ado About Nothing" (PG-13, 109 minutes, Lionsgate): The feints, schemes, deceptions and setbacks that inevitably lead to love make for a divertingly merry war in Joss Whedon's larky adaptation of Shakespeare's play. Transposing the manners and verbal flourishes of Elizabethan England to 21st-century Santa Monica, Calif., Whedon finds unexpected meaning in this famously saucy "skirmish of wit." Not only does the spiky verbal sparring between would-be lovers Beatrice and Benedick (Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof) still crackle with convincing sting and verve, but Shakespeare also turns out to have plenty to say about an era when, more than ever, someone is more apt to be destroyed by fast-moving rumors and strategic leaks than by an act of physical aggression. Contains some sexuality and brief drug use. Extras include commentary with Whedon, a separate commentary with Whedon and the cast, a 22-minute making-of that follows the movie's genesis from a Whedon's Shakespeare salon at his Santa Monica, Calif., home through the 12-day movie shoot; "Bus Ado About Nothing" featurette; and "Sigh No More" music video.

"The Hangover Part III" (R, 100 minutes, Warner): After "The Hangover Part II," more than one critic took filmmaker Todd Phillips to task for too slavishly following the first movie's winning formula. With "The Hangover Part III," he has taken that advice to heart. And that's the problem. "Part III" is such a departure from the franchise that there's not even a hangover. To the contrary, the action here is precipitated by an intervention. It starts on a road trip to Arizona, where deranged man-child Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is being taken to a rehab facility by his reluctant friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha). While en route, the four are ambushed by thugs working for the gangster Marshall (John Goodman), who wants to exploit the men's connections to Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) to retrieve some stolen gold. Contains obscenity, nudity, violence, crude humor, offensive stereotypes and mistreatment of animals. Extras include outtakes, extended scenes, "Inside Focus: The Real Chow" and three making-of featurettes.

"The Purge" (R, 85 minutes, Universal): "The Purge" asks us to believe that, in nine short years, American society will have become so depraved that our government will grant us one night a year to indulge our inner Neanderthals with impunity. Set in 2022 during an annual 12-hour event known as Purge Night, the movie follows the efforts of a suburban family to fight off a pack of masked killers who are taking advantage of the evening's temporary suspension of law and order. The Purge allows citizens to blow off steam by doing pretty much anything they want to each other and get off scot-free. Writer-director James DeMonaco does wring a certain macabre humor out of the premise as the film opens with a man sharpening a giant blade on his neatly manicured front lawn, for all the cul-de-sac to see. But the heroes of "The Purge" aren't like that. James and Mary Sandin (Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey) are decent law-abiders, living with their kids in a tidy McMansion that has been fortified with the same state-of-the-art security systems that he has sold to all his neighbors. As Purge Night descends on their home, James and Mary curl up with a small arsenal of guns for what they hope will be just another quiet night in front of their glowing security monitors. Contains bloody violence and cruelty. Extra: making-of featurette.

Also: "Star Wars Trilogy Episodes I-III" and "Star Wars Trilogy Episodes IV-VI (two Fox titles; both include commentary by director George Lucas and new commentary from archival interviews with cast and crew), "Curse of Chucky," "Dancing Ninja," "I Married a Witch" (1942, The Criterion Collection), "Marvel's Avengers Assemble: Assembly Required" (animated, Disney), "Tad: The Lost Explorer" (animated), "The Borrowers" (2011 remake for TV), "My Little Pony: A Very Minty Christmas" (2005), "Caillou: Let's Go Sledding" (PBS), "Dinosaur Train: We Are a Dinosaur Family" (PBS) and "Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure" (animated).

Television Series: "Psych: Seventh Season," "Bones Season Eight," "90210: The Final Season," "American Horror Story: Asylum: Second Season," "In the Flesh" (three-part BBC America zombie series), "White Collar Season Four," "Totally Spies Collection: Seasons 1-3," "Robot Chicken Season 6" (Cartoon Network), "Masterpiece Mystery!: Inspector Lewis Pilot Through Series 6" (PBS), "The Middle: Third Season," "The Avengers: The Complete Emma Peel Megaset" (1965-1968, 16-disc set), "The Secret of Crickley Hall" (BBC miniseries), "The Six Million Dollar Man: Season 4," "The Best of (The Original) An Evening at the Improv" (four-disc set, A&E) and "Drawing With Mark."

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