Spring Breakers Blu-ray Review

Spring Breakers Blu-ray Review“Some kids want to be President. Others want to be a doctor. I just want to be bad!”

Harmony Korine is an auteur in the truest sense of the word. To some he makes brilliant and challenging pieces of art. To others he makes garbage not fit for consumption. Either way, he elicits reaction.

With his latest film, Spring Breakers, he fuels both sides of the debate with a film that’s equally a sensory overload and a minimal art piece all at the same time. Since it’s release the film has earned nearly as much acclaim as it has dissenters.

Spring Breakers follows four young Florida girls, Faith (Selena Gomez), Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Cotty (Rachel Korine), as they prepare to leave their boring lives behind for a week of spring break in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, they are quite low in the funds department. It’s nothing a little robbery can’t fix, though, as three of the girls rob a local diner to support their upcoming excursion.

A short bus ride south brings the girls to their destination and they are immediately living their proverbial dream. Away from home and their usual mundane existence their lives become a non-stop party. Surrounded by hard drugs and hyper-specialized guys and girls, this pack of four seem content with the party itself, always being around but never completely giving in to the debauchery surrounding them at every turn.

Spring Breakers Blu-ray Review

The party soon catches up with them though resulting in one of the girls feeling betrayed and leaving for home. It also leads the girls into the path of Alien (James Franco), a local rapper that has much darker dealings. The early high of the party life begins to peter out into a hardline drop off. The girls form a crew with Alien and begin taking over the city, one criminal act at a time. While that sounds slightly generic, Korine shoves most of this story arc into a montage of epically surreal proportions that may just be my favorite film moment of the year.

The film could easily fall prey to simply being more of the same gratuitous garbage that it is obviously skewering, yet it succeeds at elevating it’s satire to the next level and much of that success lies with Korine. His approach to the project is more so as a living art piece than simply a film. Dialogue is often repeated but with varying inflections that on one hand takes on a spoken word-esque sensibility while at that same time feels like an examination of drugged out memory. Scenes that seem dangerous are filmed in beautiful ways. The whole film carries a heightened sense of reality and in Korine’s commentary he’s open that that was his intent. While inspired by the younger generation, it’s never meant to be taken literally. He also plays with the expected. He finds joy in seemingly taking a plot point one way and completely going against type which serves to make the film even stronger.

There is also the sense that Spring Breakers as a whole is meant to be a commentary on excess and the increasingly gratuitous nature of modern pop culture. Within its first few minutes, Spring Breakers becomes an assault on the senses, as if Korine heeded the call of the masses craving for more skin and more drugs and answered back with an almost overwhelming barrage of imagery, tone and sound.

Spring Breakers Blu-ray Review

The most interesting aspect of this line of thinking is that Korine doesn’t have much to say about this clamoring for debauchery. He recognizes it, blows it up to epic proportions and leaves the viewer to deal with the remainder. Some would say it’s lazy, but I find it a bit brilliant. Korine gives you what you think you want but isn’t going to tell you what to do with it all once you’re there.

While all of the girls do some incredible work in the film, especially against their typical acting credentials and amidst constant prowling from the paparazzi at all times, it is James Franco that effortlessly steals the show with his portrayal of rapper/drug dealer Alien. His “Look at my shit!” monologue, an incredible spectacle of partial improversation about material gains and wealth,connects on so many levels. Alien is delightfully absurd while managing to maintain a sense of menace and dread that never fades, despite how close the girls get to him.

High-Def Presentation

Spring Breakers comes to the high definition world with an absolutely breathtaking MPEG 4 1080p AVC transfer. Colors shine and pop in an almost surreal way while skin tones remain natural There is an incredible amount of detail on display from hairstyles to clothing to the beauty, wear and decay beachside towns contain. To say this transfer looks phenomenal would be an understatement. Korine made a beautiful film about terrible things, and this HD presentation is a perfect example.

Not to be outdone is a DTS-HD 5.1 sound mix that is a sonic assault that compliments the film perfectly. With a predominantly synth based score that was jointly produced by Cliff Martinez and Skrillex, the music was definitely going to take some priority. While it is powerful and nearly constant throughout the entire film, it never feels unbalanced or overpowering of the film’s own soundscape, but more an extension. Though dialogue is honestly quite minimal, it’s always clear and centralized in the soundscape. The ambient noise that each locale brings fills the surrounds and provides an even more immersive experience.

Spring Breakers Blu-ray Review

Beyond The Feature

It is with complete honesty that I admit to being absolutely floored at not only the quantity of extras for Spring Breakers, but also the quality. It is increasingly commonplace for studios to churn out the home video version of films with little to nothing to accompany said film. Such is not the case here. First and foremost is an incredibly informative and entertaining Audio Commentary with Director Harmony Korine. While it starts off a bit slow with Korine basically just calling out what’s happening on screen, it quickly picks up as Korine delves into much of his creative process and filmmaking choices as well as many a hilarious anecdote.

The three-part Breaking It Down Featurette delves even more into the overall creative process featuring interviews with cast and crew discussing the film and the process of getting it made. There’s also three Vice Featurettes that are incredibly strong, especially the one focusing on the ATL Twins and a nice little spot on the making of the music for the film.

The following is a complete list of all included special features

  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Harmony Korine
  • Breaking it Down: Behind Spring Breakers (HD, in 3 parts)
  • Deleted Scene (HD)
  • Outtakes (HD)
  • Harmony’s Ear Candy (HD)
  • VICE Featurettes: The ATL Twins (HD,in 3 parts), The Redneck Riviera (HD) and Dirtona (HD)
  • Theatrical Trailers (HD)
  • TV Spots (HD)
  • UltraViolet Digital Copy

Spring Breakers Blu-ray Review

Spring Breakers is an interesting addition into the oeuvre of Harmony Korine. While it may be surprising to film lovers just discovering the director, Spring Breakers is easily some of his tamest work. Yet, it also feels like his most realized. With this film Korine has found a way to transcend the subject matter and make an absolutely beautiful film about a darker side of youth culture. He’s taken some of the biggest names in recent Disney years and purposely turned all preconceived notions on their heads. He also gets one hell of a performance out of James Franco, who has already cemented his character Alien as one of the most charismatic and instantly quotable characters in the last two decades of cinema. Combine this with the near perfect PQ and AQ and a loaded special features package, and you have not only in my opinion a must-own Blu-ray release, but Spring Breakers is easily a top ten release of the year.

Spring Break forever, bitches!

Shop for Spring Breakers on Blu-ray for a discounted price at Amazon.com (July 9, 2013 release date)

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