A threepeat, some Shakespeare and a low-budget thriller are among today's offerings on DVD and Blu-ray.
First is "The Hangover Part III." The last of the series of movies about a bunch of buddies involved in intermittently comedic adventures, it was also the most expensive and least successful of the lot, demonstrating how much the series had worn out.
Much as it wants to have the flavor of the two earlier films, it's often sullen and sour. And, while it brings back the cast from the earlier films, most of the work is done by Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong. Indeed, Bradley Cooper is not only peripheral, he's less than energized when onscreen.
Far more recommended here, is "Much Ado About Nothing," writer-director Joss Whedon's black-and-white, modern-dress adaptation of Shakespeare's comedy.
Whedon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Firefly," "Marvel's The Avengers") was supposed to take a break after he completed shooting of the partly-made-in-Cleveland Avengers but opted instead to make this film -- in 12 days, at his home and with the help of people from the Whedon stock company (Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg among them).
Whedon's trimming of the Shakespeare text creates some plot holes that are at best barely patched over. But the piece as a whole is endearing in both its comedic and dramatic moments. Denisof and Acker form the center of the production, and both are quite good. Acker shines most -- smart, vibrant and beautiful, the kind of woman to whom many men would be helplessly drawn even as she is detailing their inadequacy.
Filmmakers are finding ways to use modest amounts to do interesting work. Consider "The Purge," which, according to Box Office Mojo, had a budget of $3 million and raked in close to $90 million worldwide.
The movie was able to be an unsettling little thriller through its premise and setting. At some point in the not too distant future, America has decided that the solution to violence is to have a 12-hour period once a year when any and all crimes are legal; that lets everyone release their nastiest urges before going back to their regular lives. Taking place on a purge night, the film focuses on a family headed by Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey that is locking down for the night. Or so they think.
The bloodshed is considerable, the ending a little hard to swallow. But for much of the time it works as a tight (86 minutes) adventure.