Dope (Blu-ray Review)

319099K3_Dope_BDOring_ProdShot3DDope was a film I wish brokeout so much more this past summer. It may seem like a familiar coming-of-age story about kids from the hood, but it really applies to all generations. Writer/director Rick Famuyiwa‘s film studies the life of 90s-obsessed Malcolm (Shameik Moore). He’s just a high school geek, but that’s a simple start, and the film goes on to cleverly bounce between many ideas. Now the film has arrived on Blu-ray, so check out what’s in store for you.




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While you can see similarities to stories like ‘Boyz n the Hood‘ or ‘Menace II Society‘, ‘Dope’ really has more in common with films like ‘Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World’ and ‘Brick‘. It features geeky, old-school references, but set in modern day.

The film revolves around Malcolm and his friends Jib (Tony Revolori of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel‘) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and their adventures in the hood. The three are obsessed with 90s culture, ranging from video games to hip-hop. They have a band together and with songs for this film produced by Pharrell Williams, which is just the beginning of describing how great this film’s soundtrack is.

The plot is based upon where Malcolm is from, as he lives in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles. Following an attempt to earn some street cred by attending the party of a drug dealer played by A$AP Rocky, Malcolm finds himself in possession of a lot of drugs. Given that Malcolm is doing his best to get into Harvard, it will take a lot of straddling the line between being a geek and being a kid from the hood for him to solve his problems

Moore is fantastic as Malcolm. The Atlanta-born actor is only 20-years old, but this is the kind of charismatic performance that creates a star. The way he adapts to 90s culture in the modern setting goes well with his talent and looks. As the film revolves around the adventures of Malcolm, we find him doing all the heavy lifting whether it involves comedy, drama or even action.

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Additionally, while set in the hood and featuring mostly actors of color, ‘Dope’ should have universal appeal. Famuyiwa walks a fine line as he examines the culture Malcolm exists within, while using it to branch out elsewhere. There are characters struggling to gain societal acceptance, while others have a hard time facing failure. It is fascinating and wrapped up in a film that features a great soundtrack, witty dialogue and slick visuals.

While the story may feel somewhat unbalanced in the way it handles sudden narrative twists, ‘Dope’ never loses its heart. For example, a major plot point revolves around getting rid of drugs, but the story is juxtaposed with tender moments like one between Malcolm and his crush Nakia (Zoë Kravitz), who needs help getting her GED. The geek and hood worlds clash constantly and it makes ‘Dope’ a stronger film for it.

Famuyiwa clearly had a vision to make a film with its own rhythm, without using major players to distract the audience. The low-key approach to casting also helps add credence to the film’s overall message. By the time it ends, ‘Dope’ feels like a real trip. The characters go on a colorful, if familiar journey, but it has a strong sense of identity. Hopefully many will get to experience that same trip.


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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: ‘Dope’ features an awesome (dope) transfer that really brings the film’s urban settings to life. The details are wonderful, as there is a surprising amount of set design and costume work that sticks out on the Blu-ray format.

Depth: There is a great three dimensional look for this film, as the visuals have a dynamic level of ambition through its kinetic beat. For a low-budget film, a lot is given shape throughout.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and inky here, with a blend of nighttime and interior scenes that always feel appropriately shaded, with no signs of crush.

Color Reproduction: This is a very colorful film thanks to the stylistic appeal of the film and the 90s obsession that leads to a quirky design overall.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are very natural and work well with the various environments we see.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing.



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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: This lossless soundtrack is practically perfect. It is a terrific mix of the various songs, dialogue and whatever else you get to hear in this film.

Low Frequency Extension: There is a strong amount of effort put into making the LFE channel come alive, given the lively feel of this film and how it sounds.

Surround Sound Presentation: The work done to properly blend this audio track and spread it across the various channels is another highlight. Whether you have quieter moments, with ambient sounds or larger scale scenes with a full soundtrack at play, this is an audio track that really impresses.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone is loud and clear.



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Unfortunately, not nearly enough time was spent delivering a dope set of extras. What we have is a paltry two featurettes and a digital copy. It’s a true shame, given the potential for so much more.

Features Include:

  • ‘Dope’ Is Different (HD, 3:21)  – A brief look at the plot and characters.
  • ‘Dope’ Music (HD, 3:29) – A brief look at the work done on the soundtrack.
  • Trailers
  • UltraViolet and iTunes Digital Copy of the Film
  • DVD Copy of the Film


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‘Dope’ is still one of my favorites of the year, as it is incredibly enjoyable, while also poignant in some clever ways. The film delivers as far as an excellent technical presentation, but fails in the extras department. Regardless, this is certainly a film you should go seek out.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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