(HD-DVD Combo Format + DVD-Video)
Picture: B+/C+†††† Sound: B+/B-†††† Extras: C†††† Film: C
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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