Just got DOG SOLIDERS today

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Eujin, Nov 1, 2002.

  1. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    The DVD's not supposed to be released until Nov 5, but I came across a lone copy this afternoon at a local retailer. If anyone's interested, I'll post a review on Monday. Unfortunately, it looks like this disc is non-anamorphic but I'll confirm after I've taken a look. If I don't reply to this thread over the weekend, it's because I'm in between ISPs right now and will not have a connection at home for the time being.
     
  2. Todd_B

    Todd_B Second Unit

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    A review would be wonderful!

    I plan on picking this up on release date.

    Todd B
     
  3. Jason Hennigan

    Jason Hennigan Stunt Coordinator

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    From what I have read, the disk is not anamorphic, but I do NOT own it, so I don't know.

    But for those of you who are not decided on the film, it is a very enjoyable movie, and definitely worth picking up.
     
  4. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    Eujin just to let you know before one of the admins get to you they frown very heavily on telling the name of stores that put out product early
     
  5. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    TonyD, thanks for the heads up--I just edited my initial post.
     
  6. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    OK, I watched DOG SOLDIERS on Friday night and here are my thoughts. I viewed the movie from start to finish on a front projection set-up, with selected scenes viewed after the movie on a regular analog 27" TV. See the end of the review for equipment notes if you care to.
    Synopsis: Basically, it's about a group of British soldiers out on a military exercise in the Scottish highlands. They stumble on the decimated camp of the special ops team they're up against, and from then on it's a fight for survival against werewolves.
    First off, let me get all uncertainty out of the way. The disc is ANAMORPHIC. DOG SOLDIERS wasn't a big hit here or anything--in fact, it was a festival circuit/underground favorite that was picked up for theatrical distribution in many countries except this one, primarily because it was deemed too "British" by Hollywood (Oh no! Accents!) The same bozos were probably responsible for our not being able to see one of my other favorite werewolf movies, GINGER SNAPS, in theaters.
    PICTURE QUALITY: For front pj users and those with large HD RPTVs, this disc is going to be pretty challenging, particularly in darker scenes where contrast is low. This is a major issue because, as expected with a werewolf horror movie set in the Scottish Highlands, most scenes are nighttime shots and dark or dimly lit indoor shots. On my pj, which does have some limitations with black level detail (see notes at the bottom), the lack of resolution became quite a bit of an issue at times--but it was definitely better than I'd expected, considering that this disc qualified for "straight to video" status in the U.S. market. The most obvious quality of this disc is how soft the picture looks. There is also quite a bit of grain in the darker scenes, and not of the natural kind found on well-transferred film-based material. The grain here is noisy and a bit crawly, but again not as bad as I'd expected. On a more positive note, there seems to be hardly any edge enhancement used, and if there was I didn't notice it--either way, it was minimal enough (if it was there) that it didn't bother me.
    The above comments on picture quality pertain to my front pj set-up. On my analog TV, fed via s-video from my DVD player, the shortcomings of the transfer were less noticeable. This is not to say that you won't notice it on smaller displays, but then again I'd already seen these flaws on the projected image, so I knew what to look for. If your only display option is a 32" or less analog set, this disc might look perfectly ok to you. Digital displays of similar sizes will probably make the flaws a little bit more apparent, particularly in scenes where there is noise in the picture.
    AUDIO QUALITY: The disc comes with a DD5.1 track and this is what I used. Unfortunately, it's a pretty ho-hum presentation. The front soundstage is fairly flat and non-three dimensional. In addition, dialogue is not presented very well over the various sound effects and it can be quite difficult at times to make out what the actors are saying. Those with trouble understanding various British accents and slang (and there's a mix of them here, between Scottish, Irish and English accents of varied class backgrounds) might want to up the level of the center channel to make up for this. I was ok with the accents because I grew up in a fairly recent post-colonial country (Singapore) and also spent some time living in England, but I still had to rewind on one or two occassions to make out what was being said. A good comparison can be made to both SNATCH and LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, two recent and hugely popular imports which featured a multitude of accents, but with better mixing for dialog. Be warned also that there is very little LFE info and you may wonder once or twice if your sub is turned on. A good example of this is in an early scene when a British Lynx helicopter drops off our band of intrepid soldiers--the sound of the rotors is flat with a very noticeable lack of any bass. All in all, a pretty disappointing audio experience.
    EXTRAS: I haven't finished watching the extras yet, but there are only two of note. First off is a featurette on the making of the movie, featuring cast and director interviews and a couple of behind the scenes shots. The featurette is ok, and while it might look like one of those HBO "documentaries" used to promote upcoming movies, it's obvious from the content that it's meant for viewers who've already seen the feature. The other extra is a commentary by one of the producers, which I skimmed through, picking out only scenes that I wanted more background info on. It's a fairly lively commentary and the producer is obviously excited about the movie and pretty proud of the final product, as he should be, IMHO.
    MOVIE'S MERITS: I have to say that despite the transfer's shortcomings, I'd recommend this disc to anyone--if nothing else because it takes a genre movie and elevates it above much of the overly-slick, poor excuses for horror movies put out these days. There's nothing particularly original here, and it's obvious that the film was done on a limited budget, but there's still much to enjoy. Atmosphere is great and most importantly, the acting is superb. The cast is mostly unknown, which actually serves the movie pretty well--you have very little idea who's going to die next. Characters are sketched in, but they're done well enough that each has a recognisable, distinguishable personality and you'll actually care if they live or die. Or at least I did. Finally, apart from GINGER SNAPS--which was a very different movie and, arguably, not even a movie about werewolves--no one's done a truly enjoyable werewolf movie for quite some time (probably not since AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON). If you're in the mood for a well-executed, fun and different take on a werewolf flick, this disc is for you. At the price I paid ($14.99), it was certainly a worthwhile 2 hours of my time.
    EQUIPMENT NOTES
    Displays: Panasonic TH-AE100 Digital LCD projector and Samsung TXL2791F 27" analog 4:3 TV. AE100 was fed via component video cables (Canare L4CFB) from DVD player; s-video used for the Samsung. Image projected is about 7.5' wide (horizontal) on a flat, matte white wall (I've used a screen before, when I had a set-up that allowed for a smaller picture and I prefer my new wall). Seating distance is about 15 feet back, so I'm at just about 2x screen width. The AE100 is a native 16:9 pj with 848x480 resolution and has limitations (as all LCD pjs do) with black level. Specifically, it's incapable of producing truly black blacks and shadow delineation in the darkest scenes is very difficult. That said, it seldom becomes an issue except on poorly transferred discs and well-done offerings (think the first murder scene in SE7EN) remain acceptably enjoyable.
    Source: JVC XV-S500 DVD player modified by JVB Digital. I actually prefer this player in my set-up with my projector over both the Panasonic RP56 and RP82 as it results in slightly less screendoor. YMMV with your displays.
    Sound: Harman/Kardon AVR320 receiver.
    Speakers: Triangle Titus 202 fronts with matching Sextan center channel speaker; Paradigm Atoms for rears and SVS 25-31CS subwoofer. Mapleshade Golden Helix speaker cabling.
     
  7. Tony Aguila

    Tony Aguila Stunt Coordinator

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    What are you guys talking about? I got my copy one day early (Nov 4) and it's anamorphic, 1.77:1. Actually, it comes in both anamorphic widescreen and 4:3 fullscreen. My system is a Sanyo PLV-60 front projector, 100" grayhawk screen, Panny RP91D player. Did I get a different version?

    I assure you that this copy is anamorphic. Available audio are DD 5.1, 2.0, plus a producer's commentary track.

    Overall the scenes are indeed dark, but all within context. There's a little bit of sharpening (EE), not enough to fret about.

    I want to emphasize that this DVD is anamorphic! I wouldn't want interested members to get turned off by misinformation.
     
  8. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    Tony, this is really curious. My copy is not anamorphic--it's the first thing I checked for when I got it. If anything, I hope MY COPY is some weird aberration, seeing as it was the only copy on the shelves and was even in the wrong section. I wonder if it's possible that I got some defective product that was supposed to be pulled and was left on by mistake?
     
  9. Tony Aguila

    Tony Aguila Stunt Coordinator

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    Do you have the choice of full and widescreen? Mine also has two trailers, a featurette, commentary, in addition to DD 5.1 and 2.0. I don't see anywhere on the cover any specifics about anamorphic, but I assure you, it is. I even verified this by playing it on my Mac. In OS X, anamorphic movies expand sideways while maintaining a constant height (480 pixels).

    I made screen captures and the fullframe is indeed 480 x 640 pixels while the widescreen image is 480 x 853. Go figure!

    I'm an old-time member but I don't get to post very often so I don't even know how to post pictures. If anyone can show me how it's done I can post these screen shots.
     
  10. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    Tony, it sounds like we have identical discs EXCEPT for the anamorphic issue. It's bizarre and I don't have any other way of explaining it. Well, I'll be glad if the stuff released tomorrow is what you got--a pity I spent so much time posting that review! C'est la vie...
     
  11. Tony Aguila

    Tony Aguila Stunt Coordinator

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    My feeling is that your copy is fine. It may be some anomalous scaling issue between the disc and your system. I've had some bizarre scaling issues with my player and a number of discs only to discover that the same thing doesn't happen on another system. I read somewhere that it has something to do with how your player interprets progressive signals.
    I suggest taking it to a friend with a HT setup and see how it performs there.
    Addendum: I just thought about posting my screen captures on my ftp server. If anyone is interested in downloading them, the link is:
    ftp://HTF:[email protected]/
    In case you are asked for your user name and/or password, it's HTF (username) and member (password). If anyone wants to send me files to post here, send me an email.
     
  12. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    Hmmm...interesting thought, Tony. I'll pop the disc in my Mac tonight to see what I see. I'll post an update tomorrow if anything changes.
     
  13. Tony Aguila

    Tony Aguila Stunt Coordinator

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    Here again, Eujin. Glad to hear you have a Mac. Remember that the OS 9 DVD player will not scale anamorphic frames, so play it in OS X. View it in normal size, though. In full screen you won't be able to tell the difference.
     
  14. Michael Lee

    Michael Lee Supporting Actor

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    Corroborating an anamorphic transfer here--this is verified on a Denon DVD-9000 and a Sharp XVZ-9000 DLP projector. I have not had the time to actually watch this in its entirety yet, but this thread piqued my curiosity.
     
  15. MattHR

    MattHR Screenwriter

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    The disc I watched was also anamorphic. I was very disappointed with the transfer, however. Very poor black levels and shadow detail. Not much better than a decent cable broadcast.
     
  16. Declan

    Declan Second Unit

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    The r2 version came out 2 weeks ago, ON RENTAL ONLY[​IMG] [​IMG]
    Got it out anyway cause i love the film. Yes it's 1.85:1 anamorphic and i thought the 5.1 was actually very well executed with some great atmosphereics and "jump out of your seat" audio effects. Like when the soldiers are in the Land Rover and the wolves are on the roof, the sound of claws scraping the metal roof came out brilliantly from the rears, with different claws scrapes goin to each rear speaker.
    Picture could have been better, but it was very grainy at the flicks too.
     
  17. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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  18. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    Ok, something very bizarre is happening with my player. Went home and fired up the disc again, and again, it appeared to be non-anamorphic--even had the black bars above and below the picture, which should not be there on a 1.85:1/1.78:1 aspect ratio. I then decided to pop the disc out and perform a hard shut down and unplugged the player. After waiting a minute or so, I plugged in the player, powered it up. Crossing my fingers, I put the disc in again and hit "Play". This time, the black bars were gone and the picture appeared anamorphic! Unfortunately, this had no effect on the poor picture quality that I'd reported earlier. I jumped about the disc to look for specific scenes that stood out and confirmed that the picture looks identical to the first time I saw it, save for the black bars the first time. And before anyone else asks, my DVD player was set to 16:9 Normal the whole time. I don't have OS X so I didn't bother popping it in my Mac. And I don't know how to explain this anomaly--Tony you were right! Maybe it was a glitch in my newly modded player. I don't know, but I'm not going to try to repeat this bizarre episode. For now, the player is staying as is and I'm not performing any hard shut downs or unplugging it--ever. My apologies to everyone who's read my initial review--I will edit it now and confirm that this disc is anamorphic. Thanks to everyone who chimed in on this topic.
     
  19. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    How much was this at Best Buy? I read a 19.95 MSRP some places and a 24.95 MSRP at others (including local store Laser Blazer). I'm thinking I might buy this online.

    EXCELLENT movie, though. Saw it at the Egyptian Theater in September.
     
  20. Eujin

    Eujin Supporting Actor

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    Best Buy had it for $14.99.
     

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