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Published: Thursday, 7/11/2013

‘Spring Breakers,’ ‘The Host’ arrive on DVD

AKRON BEACON JOURNAL

A couple of new releases on DVD and Blu-ray are largely unrelated in terms of content and cast. But they do have a question in common: Once you have achieved one kind of success, how do you keep a career going?

From left, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, and Selena Gomez star in 'Spring Breakers.' From left, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, and Selena Gomez star in 'Spring Breakers.'
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Example one is Spring Breakers (Lionsgate, $21.98 DVD, $27.99 Blu-ray/​digital combo), the low-low-budget film about four college students who want to go away for spring break — but don’t have enough money. Their attempts to get some send them down ever more lurid paths. It’s no wonder the movie has sometimes been referred to as “Disney girls gone bad.”

The “girls” in this case are Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place) and Vanessa Hudgens (the High School Musical films), who are part of the core quartet along with Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars), and Rachel Korine (The Fourth Dimension, and the wife of Spring Breakers writer-director Harmony Korine). The movie quickly puts them in a lurid milieu, not only with early scenes of spring breakers’ raunchy behavior but in showing the rough edges of the characters’ everyday lives. The movie is rated R “for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use, and violence throughout” — favoring hot, bright colors and extreme close-ups in creating its feverish atmosphere.

Reviews were mostly good — 65 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — but the critics who hated it were vigorous in their hatred, and there has been much debate about how much the film exploits its characters and stars. Harmony Korine has reportedly said that “I had been collecting spring break imagery for a couple of years. From fraternity sites and online pornography. ... I started looking at it and I liked the world and the colors and the feel of it. There were all these hyper-sexualized, hyper-violent subjects. But then there’s all these interesting, child-like details.” James Franco, who plays a criminal who connects with the women, has argued that the movie “does have its cake and eat it, too,” but that’s part of the debate around it.

And that all raises the question about the choices young actresses make when, having achieved success with a young audience, they want to break out of the Disney mold. Hudgens and Gomez are far from the only performers to face that challenge — consider the twists and turns in Miley Cyrus’ career — but they certainly took an extreme road here.

Extras include a three-part making-of presentation, deleted scenes and outtakes, audio commentary by Harmony Korine, and more.

Max Irons, left, and Saoirse Ronan in a scene from 'The Host.' Max Irons, left, and Saoirse Ronan in a scene from 'The Host.'
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Example two comes courtesy of Stephenie Meyer, the author of the hugely successful Twilight novels, which in turn inspired a series of hit movies. With those movies done, filmmakers turned to The Host, a 2008 science-fiction novel by Meyer, with the clear expectation of launching a new romantic franchise. (Meyer has said she is working on a sequel book.) The art on the DVD and Blu-ray, with a young woman posed between two somber men, is obviously aimed at people wanting a good dose of Twilight-y romance; similarly aimed is the promotional copy’s reference to “love can conquer all in a dangerous new world.”

Saoirse Ronan plays the woman in question, dealing with an invasion of alien beings taking over humans’ bodies. But the movie did not invade filmgoers’ hearts. One might put aside the brutal reviews — only 9 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes, worse than any of the oft-criticized Twilight movies — since a strong box-office performance would cancel it out. But the film didn’t pack theaters, either. You can decide why with the DVD (Universal, $29.98) or Blu-ray/​DVD/​digital combo ($34.98). Extras include a making-of piece, deleted scenes, and commentary by Meyer, writer-director Andrew Niccol, and producer Nick Wechsler.

Down video road

The acclaimed film Mud, with Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, comes to DVD and Blu-ray on Aug. 6. The French drama The Bronte Sisters makes its debut in both formats on July 30. Girls: The Complete Second Season will be on DVD and Blu-ray on Aug. 13.



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