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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Teens > Drugs > Skinheads > Alpha Dog (HD-DVD Combo Format + DVD-Video)

Alpha Dog (HD-DVD Combo Format + DVD-Video)


Picture: B+/C+†††† Sound: B+/B-†††† Extras: C†††† Film: C



Based on a true story about a bunch of gangster-type kinds in the suburbs killing another peer and causing a scandal, Nick Cassavetesí Alpha Dog (2007) faced several delays and a lawsuit that almost stopped its theatrical release at the last minute.Unlike Larry Clarkís far superior Bully a few years ago where the case had concluded, the real life case that inspired this film was still in court.However, Universal won and now after limited success, hits HD-DVD and DVD.


The conflict between two young men, one a skinhead (Ben Foster) and a key drug dealer (Emile Hirsch) has the later kidnapping and eventually ordering the death of the younger, innocent brother for the former to escape kidnapping charges.Of course, this all goes horribly wrong and the result is chaos that makes for another sad tale of juvenile crime and the adults who are partly responsible.


Bruce Willis and Harry Dean Stanton are the father and grandfather of the dealer, while Sharon Stone gives an amazing performance as the mother of the skinhead and victim that shows her underrated range.Of course, Justin Timberlake is in a supporting role, but his presence and dialogue have been pumped up beyond that as a commercial point.He cannot act, but that neither helps or hurts in this case, but does not help him either.


Ultimately, the screenplay and directing are too self-satisfied, not journalistic enough and the performances are not enough to make up for those problems.Alpha Dog is a curio at best worth a look, but not much more.


The 1080p VC-1 encoded 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image looks good with its muted colors and much like the two 35mm films prints I screened of it, but both anamorphically enhanced DVD-Video versions are surprisingly soft and do not look as good as the HD version or film prints.Why?I donít know, though in all versions, there are degraded video images as the film tries to be a docudrama at times of what happened.The stand-alone DVD is a tad sharper than the DVD side of the Combo disc, but not enough to make a letter grade difference.


This is one of Universalís few Dolby TrueHD 5.1 releases to date and though Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 is also included on the HD side, the TrueHD is still better, though this is not always the most sonically kicking mix.The standard Dolby on the standard DVD versions are adequate, but cannot compete with either higher quality HD mix.


The only extra is the interesting making of featurette, though the HD side has a witness timeline in the U Control section if you want to count that.It is worth a look, but we also recommend Bully, which works even better.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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