‘Men in Black 3’ and a pair of musicals on DVD/Blu-ray

Published: Thursday, Nov. 29 2012 7:26 p.m. MST

Tommy Lee Jones (left) and Will Smith star in "Men in Black 3."

Columbia Pictures

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Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reunite for a third “Men in Black” flick on DVD and Blu-ray this week, and a pair of 2012 musicals defy the many obituaries that critics have written for the genre in recent years.

“Men in Black 3” (Columbia, 2012, PG-13, $30.99, featurettes, music video, bloopers). Time travel figures prominently in this second sequel in the franchise as Agent J (Will Smith) discovers that Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) has kept some things from him, like the vicious criminal that has just escaped from a lunar prison. Eventually J travels back to 1969, where he teams up with the younger K (played by Josh Brolin).

This one is a vast improvement over “MIB 2” and boasts enough funny gags, goofy aliens and wild-eyed action to please any fan. (Also on 3D/Blu-ray/DVD combo, $55.99, and Blu-ray/DVD combo, $40.99.)

“Sparkle” (Sony, 2012, PG-13, $30.99, audio commentary, featurettes). Whitney Houston’s final film before her untimely death is a remake of a 1976 musical inspired by the rise of Diana Ross and the Supremes (as was “Dreamgirls” some years later). Houston is the strict mother of daughters pursuing singing careers against her wishes.

The story is soapy and sappy and doggedly old-fashioned, but the musical numbers and performers are all in. The role of Sparkle’s sister, called “Sister,” is a scene-stealing part and it allows Carmen Ejogo to run away with the picture. Interestingly, that was also the case with Lonette McKee as Sister in the original film. (Also on Blu-ray, $35.99.)

“Step Up Revolution” (Summit, 2012, PG-13, $29.95, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, music videos). Flash mobs morph into protest dancers when a financier threatens to level a Miami neighborhood for redevelopment, displacing residents. Typical entry in the series with routine story of young dancer joining a group threatened by her father’s big-money development plans is bolstered somewhat by inventive choreography. Originally shown in 3D. (Also on 3D/Blu-ray combo, $39.99.)

“ParaNorman” (Focus/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012, PG, two discs, $34.98, audio commentary, featurettes). Moviegoers will be forgiven if they confuse this one with “Frankenweenie” since both were released over the past few months, both concentrate on misfit children and both take supernatural cues from horror movies. But for me this animated tale of a young boy who sees dead people is much better focused and a lot funnier. (Also on 3D/Blu-ray combo, $49.98, and DVD, $29.98.)

“Lawless” (Anchor Bay/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012; R for violence, language, nudity, sex; two discs, $39.99). Backwoods bootlegging family in Virginia during Prohibition runs afoul of corrupt law enforcement on local and federal levels. Dark, unpleasant yarn, though based on a true story, gives us no one to root for, despite competent performances by Shia LeBeouf, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce, et. al. (Also on DVD, $29.98.)

“The Apparition” (Warner/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012, PG-13, $29.98, featurettes). Young couple discovers their home is haunted thanks to a university parapsychology experiment gone wrong. By-the-numbers dud goes off in several directions and tries to scare us in fits and starts, but it isn’t at all frightening. (Also on DVD, $28.98.)

“The Day” (Anchor Bay/Blu-ray + DVD, 2012; R for violence, language, nudity; two discs, $29.99, audio commentary, trailer). Yet another post-apocalyptic tale, this one focusing on five survivors seeking shelter in an abandoned farmhouse. Naturally, violence, torture and other mayhem ensues. (Also on DVD, $26.98.)

E-MAIL: hicks@desnews.com

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