Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dog Eat Dog Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Directed by filmmaker Paul Schrader (American Gigolo, Affliction, Taxi Driver) and written by Matthew Wilder (Your Name Here), Dog Eat Dog stars Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas, Snowden), Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Justice League), and Christopher Matthew Cook (2 Guns). In this “sordid and engaging crime drama” (The Hollywood Reporter), ex-cons Troy (Cage), Mad Dog (Dafoe) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) are hired by an eccentric mob boss to kidnap a baby for a large ransom. When the abduction goes awry, the trio find themselves on the run from the mob and the cops. Vowing to stay out of prison at all costs, getting away with the crime is literally a matter of life and death.
Film (2 out of 5 stars)
Dog Eat Dog is the story of three ex-cons. Troy (Nicolas Cage) is the brains of the group. Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) possesses the muscle and Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe) is something else altogether. The film begins with a brutal murder of a mother and child, but its uncomfortable to watch long before any blood is shed.  One of the few compliments I have for this endeavor is that Dafoe expertly portrays crazy white trash. An eccentric mobster hires the trio to kidnap a baby for ransom. When things don’t go as planned, the men find themselves dodging the law and the mob.  While vowing to stay out of prison, they probably should have considered not committing crimes.

I’ve been a fan of Nicolas Cage for a long time.  I am one of the few people that liked and stuck by him through The Wicker Man.  I realize that his personality is a bit quirky and I usually say yes to the opportunity to review all of his direct to DVD releases. He has made me sorry in the past, but this is the film that has me ready to give up on him. The film is not “superbly entertaining” as the back cover boasts. It was so hard to watch that I turned the movie off, unable to take it all in one sitting.  

Dog Eat Dog is a mess of images and styled, clearly meant to shock the viewer.  Its entire delivery is something I simple did not respond well to. The story is so jumbled that the main plot point, the kidnapped baby is forgotten.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The video presentation is a bit hard to judge, given the unusual and changing look of the film.  It is honestly hard to tell what they meant to do.  Black levels and fine detail are about what you’d expect from a lower budget film. Cinematographer Alexander Dynan, along with others on board were embarking on their first feature film.
Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Dog Eat Dog's DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is sufficient. Explosions and gunfire come across as genuine. Dialogue is intelligible and well prioritized. The film offers heavy bass when appropriate and but not much by way of ambiance.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
  • Nicolas Cage Video Introduction - The brief introduction was recorded for the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Director Audio Commentary - Paul Schrader provides feature length audio commentary which touches on but doesn’t adequately explain the plot holes in this film.
  • BeyondFest Q&A with Nicolas Cage and Paul Schrader - This was the only extra I enjoyed because the audience questions cover more than just this film.
  • Photo Gallery – Still photographs.
Summary (2 out of 5 stars)
Director Paul Schrader wants to be edgy and unique, (like Quentin Tarantino) but falls far short with this film.  The film is chaotic and reeks of inexperience. I tried very hard to enjoy any part of it, simply for its star, and I did not. It feels like a film school project turned in before completion and I can't recommend the film.  

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