RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Spring Breakers, The Host, and More

An Oscar-nominated doc, a middling dramedy, Tyler Perry's latest, and a gem from New Zealand round out the list.

by | July 9, 2013 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got a Harmony Korine film starring James Franco, a Stephenie Meyer adaptation, and a Tina Fey/Paul Rudd dramedy. Then there’s also a crime thriller and an Oscar-nominated doc, not to mention a couple of noteworthy rereleases. See below for the full list.



Spring Breakers

67%

James Franco’s racked up enough A-list cred to venture into much more experimental territory, so it wasn’t surprising to see he’d hooked up with the eccentric and decidedly non-mainstream Harmony Korine for a film about a handful of bikini-clad Spring Breakers who get mixed up in a turf war between dangerous Florida gangsters. In a casting move that garnered some attention, Disney sweethearts Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens (along with Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) play mischievous coeds who engage in petty crime and hook up with rapper Alien (Franco) en route to a fatal showdown at a rival drug dealer’s mansion. Spring Breakers is certainly a bit more accessible, relatively speaking, than Harmony Korine’s previous efforts; it’s made the most money of any of his films, and at 65% on the Tomatometer, it’s also his best-reviewed work. It’s not without some problems, but critics say it’s an effective combination of cult sensibilities and social commentary, with a particularly notable performance from James Franco.



The Host

10%

The Twilight Saga was a huge success for author Stephanie Meyer, and though the film adaptations weren’t critically acclaimed, they made quite a chunk of change themselves. Would Meyer’s next effort, The Host, find a similarly enthusiastic audience? Apparently not; critics found the body snatcher-esque sci-fi thriller even less impressive than the Twilight films, and it made only a fraction of the box office take. It’s the post-apocalyptic future, and a parasitic alien race has taken over much of humanity. A human girl named Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) is implanted with a soul called “Wanderer,” but she seems resistant to the procedure, and as she learns to gain control of her body, she must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect her loved ones. At 9% on the Tomatometer, The Host suffers from a clunky, dramatically inert script that sporadically dips into unintentional hilarity, and unless you’re a Stephenie Meyer fanatic, there isn’t a good chance you’ll get much out of this.



Admission

39%

Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are two very funny, very likable actors and their comic credentials are second to none, but give them a clumsy, contrived script, and there’s only so much even they can do. Based on the novel of the same name by Jean Hanff Korelitz, Admission stars Fey as Portia, an admissions officer for Princeton University who reconnects with old friend John (Rudd) when she makes a recruiting visit to the kooky alternative school where he teaches. As Princeton’s Dean of Admissions prepares to retire and Portia angles for his job, she must also deal with romantic entanglements and an eccentric student she may or may not be related to. Director Paul Weitz’s record has been spotty lately, and Admission is unfortunately one of the blemishes; critics say Fey and Rudd are as charming as ever, but the story is so hackneyed that it mutes its stars talents.



Dead Man Down

41%

Though he scored a major hit when he helmed the original 2009 Swedish adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Danish director Niels Arden Oplev declined to take on the sequels and only returned to the big screen earlier this year for his American debut, reteaming with Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace for Dead Man Down. Colin Farrell stars as Victor, a man out for revenge against criminal kingpin Alphonse (Terrence Howard), who murdered his wife and child. After Victor earns Alphonse’s trust, he hatches an elaborate plan with the help of a troubled neighbor (Rapace) that will pit Alphonse against another mob boss and give Victor the opportunity to settle the score. Despite a strong cast that included Dominic Cooper, Isabelle Huppert, and F. Murray Abraham, among others, Dead Man Down‘s slow pacing and outlandish plot contrivances ultimately brought the film down to a 37% Tomatometer score. It’s not the worst of the worst, but it probably won’t be very satisfying either.



The Gatekeepers

94%

Leave it to the one documentary in this week’s lineup to be the surefire pleaser. Israeli director Dror Moreh’s riveting profile examines the role and impact of Israel’s Shin Bet, otherwise known as the ISA (Israel Security Agency), the country’s internal security and intelligence service. Moreh interviews six former ISA heads with shockingly candid results, offering their perspectives on the involvement of the agency in matters of national import since the Six-Day War in 1967, and rounds out the film with archival footage and some computer animation. Nominated for Best Documentary Feature earlier this year at the Oscars, The Gatekeepers is Certified Fresh at 93%, with critics calling it a stark but brutally honest documentary, a rare and unprecedented perspective on Israel’s national policy that is both fascinating and eye-opening.

Also available this week:

  • Certified Fresh New Zealand coming-of-age dramedy Boy (88%), about a boy (of course) who loves Michael Jackson and fantasizes about what his estranged father was like.
  • Criterion is releasing Kenji Mizoguchi’s 1952 drama The Life of Oharu (100%), co-starring Toshiro Mifune in a story about a prostitute in feudal Japan who reflects upon her fall from grace, on DVD and Blu-ray.
  • Tyler Perry’s Temptation (16%), a drama about a restless woman coming to grips with her marital infidelity.

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