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Dog Soldiers – Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Scream Factory took a stab at a Collector’s Edition of Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers seven years ago and are back to upgrade it with a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray version. Armed with a new transfer and bonus features, this is bringing in a similar disc to the Second Sight 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray coming out in the United Kingdom at the very same time. Arriving the day after that one on August 23rd. This has the new transfer from the original camera negative that was approved by Neil Marshall himself and the director of photography. Marshall sits down for a career retrospective and we get some historical context type interviews/essays for the other new bonus features. You can order yourself a copy of this new Dog Soldiers – Collector’s Edition by using the paid Amazon Associates link that will be there when you scroll to the bottom of this review.

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Film

Originally published 6/11/2015

A group of soldiers dispatched to the Scottish Highlands on special training maneuvers face their biggest fears after they run into Captain Ryan – the only survivor of a Special Ops team that was literally torn to pieces. Ryan refuses to disclose his mission even though whoever attacked his men might be hungry for seconds. Help arrives in the form of local girl who shelters them in a deserted farmhouse deep in the forest…but when they realize that they are surrounded by a pack of blood-lusting werewolves, it’s apparent their nightmare has just begun!

Well, this Scream Factory release hasn’t been without its share of drama getting to release.  But, its finally here.  They announced they were doing a collector’s edition on it back in 2013 for a June 2014 release.  Then, there were some delays moving it into the February-March range for this year.  One more delay came then because Neil Marshall apparently had some new source material from which to strike a new transfer.  Just know folks, when Scream Factory delays something, it is usually within good reason beneficial to their customers that they are holding off on it.

This early Marshall film has always been his weakest to me, but its still a very fun.  Its a part of that little horror subgenre where you put a group of mercernaries/military unit against some sort of paranormal antagonist.  Here its basically badass soldiers fighting against some big ass werewolves.  It not only gives us an early look at Neil Marshall, but we get some neat actors like Kevin McKidd, Sean Pertwee and Liam Cunningham showing their chops and busting each others’.

Production on the film is actually rather clever.  I love these low budget horror films with big ideas and ambitions and no money.  This is where you clearly find creative geniuses and learn who just doesn’t cut it.  Marshall makes a film that’s as effective as something with a big studio budget, both imaginative and in its execution.  This film makes you believe you see a lot more here than you actually do.  For instance, some people swear there’s a transformation scene in this movie.  There is absolutely not one.  A guy gets crazy eyes and nails, falls over a table and hops up a werewolf.

While Marshall has gone on to some big things (The Descent, the underappreciated DoomsdayCenturion and Game Of Thrones episodes), people have not forgotten Dog Soldiers, its a start with a promising director who is already showing his masterwork at this early stage.  I’ve always said that Marshall’s greatest strength as a horror/action director is that he makes the violence not only count, but he actually makes it look like it hurts too.  Hurts so much that you’ll grab your own body part that you see getting busted onscreen for someone else.  Its outstanding and part of a sixth sense of fun with filmgoing that Marshall displays.  Definitely seek this one out as not only a good werewolf movie, but something really different in the genre as well.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Dog Soldiers debuts in the US on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray featuring a 4K restoration from the original camera negative by Second Sight Films – approved by director Neil Marshall and director of photography Sam McCurdy and presented in Dolby Vision. This is a MUCH improved image over the previous one. It features an image with much more nuance, less bleached look and one with a more depth, crispness and texture.

Depth:  Depth of field improves greatly with the nice layer of grain intact. There’s a good sense of scale and pushback in the woods and the cabin in the film opens up quite a bit more. Movements are natural and smooth with no issues from rapid camera work or frantic action causing motion blur or jitter.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural and really bring out this picture more. There’s a good amount of information now much better saturation and contrasted. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are very muted, though some blood can stick out. Blue filtering is handled much better here with good saturation. HDR sticks out with little flames, lights and gunfire blasts.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a bit washed, as is the aesthetic of the film, and consistent the whole way through. Facial details and texture are very strong and clearly discernible from any reasonable distance and the makeup effects hold up to 4K scrutiny with ease.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: You could probably get away with a great experience just using the 2.0 track.  The 5.1 is solid, but not an incredibly utilized 5 channel experience.  I’m guessing its the same track fromt he previous version as there are no notes about this containing a new mix.  Sounds are actually pretty clear, crisp and clean sounding that aren’t as rough as the video appears. There is an audio pop at 28:35 coming from the right rear channel (Originally reported by High Def Disc News).  It is present in the 2.0 mix. As well, I have checked the previous 2015 Scream Factory release and it is there, too. 

Low Frequency Extension:  Some decent work done with helicopter sounds as well as explosions and gunfire.

Surround Sound Presentation:  During the battle inside the house there is some good work in the rear speakers, but aside from that they are relatively unused.  The right and left interplay is pretty good.  Volume placement is accurate.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, clean and crisp.

Extras

Dog Soldiers – Collector’s Edition comes with the standard Blu-ray disc. Aside from commentary tracks, all bonus material is found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • With Writer and Associate Professor of Film Alison Peirse
  • With Director Neil Marshall
  • With Producers David E. Allen and Brian O’Toole

Werewolves, Crawlers, Cannibals and More: An Interview with Neil Marshall (HD, 38:26) – This is a pretty full on career interview with Marshall who goes over his filmmaker beginnings, Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday, Centurion, Game of Thrones (and other television), Hellboy (“It was a terrible script and a miserable experience. and what came of that was an awful film. You can’t polish a turd”) and The Reckoning. There are also some nice tid bits on stuff he was attached to but didn’t get. A very nice little career retrospective.

A History Of Lycanthropy: Author Gavin Baddeley On Werewolf Cinema (HD, 33:21) – Baddeley talks sort of his history with horror films and the kind of mindset and history on British horror before seeing Dog Soldiers for the first time. He then goes on through a history of important werewolf films and how they bleed into and effect other films that aren’t even of that sub genre.

Werewolves, Folklore and Cinema: A Video Essay By Author Mikel J. Koven (HD, 23:24) – He’s recorded via some sort of Zoom or Skype service without professional equipment. But, he reads his essay as the movie plays around it. The idea behind the essay is to separate the folklore from the Hollywood takes on the werewolf.

Werewolves Vs. Soldiers (HD, 1:01:46)

Werewolves Vs. Soldiers (HD, 1:01:46)

Theatrical Trailers (HD, 5:02)

Dog Soldiers Photo Gallery

Dog Soldiers Photo Gallery

“Combat”: A Short Film By Director Neil Marshall (HD, 7:36)

Summary

Dog Soldiers is a film I tend to forget just how good, punk rock, and funny it is until I return to it. Scream Factory has returned to it with a much more lovely looking image and some boffo new extras to improve upon their 2015 release of the film. Fans of the film should easily lean toward this upgrade for the most definitive version of the movie to date.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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