Dogma Blu-ray Review
SoundTwo sound tracks to choose from, English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround (48kHz/16-Bit). The English track is a good solid affair if slightly geared towards the front of the sound stage. The surrounds do pipe up to add a bit of ambience and effects, when the Voice first turns up, for example, his flames are all around the room and when he speaks it's omnipresent, i.e. all around the room, or when the Triplets attack and other 'action' scenes there is enough to give some centre to the stage. Other than that the surrounds only come in to fill out the score and with that they do a quite excellent job. Best score usage is Candy Girl when Serendipity dances, sub and speakers really come alive during this sequence.
There is a good solid range with plenty of bass to keep everything sounding natural, dialogue especially. LF effects are very limited, punches and gun shots mainly, though when used do make a satisfying thump. The few surround effects used are well steered between the speakers, though most are stereo rather than surround. The levels are a little off, quieter dialogue is very quiet and the action is full on, but when played at a good volume level nothing is missed. Quite a subtle mix, but then the film is mostly dialogue driven and doesn't loose anything because of it. Quite happy with this mix.
ExtrasThere is a good amount of extra material and it being Smith there is plenty to get your teeth into, no encompassing featurettes or making of documentaries, but the discussions to be had are full of information both trivia and technical (of sorts), with plenty of humour. Word of warning though, you don't get on with Smith and you won't get on with these extras .....
First on the agenda are two audio commentaries, the first, termed the cast and crew, is with writer/director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier, View Askew historian Vincent Pereira, Ben Affleck, Jason Mewes and Jason Lee; it is an absolute riot. There is little or no discussion about the film itself, rather the six blokes in a room and having a laugh, mostly at each others (meaning Affleck) expense. Like I say you have to like Smith to be able to get on with this track, it is full of the meandering stories and dry wit and humour he is famous for and when gelled with the rest of the ensemble it is near laugh a minute. I found it immensely entertaining and with its speed it begs repeat listenings to catch all is said.
The story goes that Mosier was very unhappy with the above commentary, since there was no discussion about the technicality of the film, which is true, so it was decided to make a second one, this time the team comprised of just himself, Kevin Smith and Vincent Pereira. Termed the technical track it concentrates far more on those aspects, that's not to say it is any less funny, Smith is still Smith after all, so this one still gains plenty of humour. Because of its more structured approach and slightly more sober attitude, their discussions beg humour and it becomes funnier, at least to me. Again screams out for repeat listenings.
Next up is a quite astonishing ninety seven minutes of deleted scenes split into sixteen sections each with an introduction from Smith, his friends and family. Actually more scene extensions than new material, they add a slightly different slant on what was released. Smith's assertion that the theatrical cut was is his preferred version is true along with his deciding this material was excised because it was not funny enough. Much as I like Smith and his work, there was too much here for me in one sitting and I actually found the introductions of far more interest that the scenes themselves.
Following this is an outtake section which runs for about thirteen minutes and contains some terrific moments including goofs, gaffs, playing to the camera and corpsing. The Why Kevin Smith Doesn't Like Improvisation section has Ben Affleck and Matt Damon adlibbing through a scene that becomes near cringe worthy in a fascinating kind of way.
The storyboard section directs our attention through three sequences; the Mooby Execution sequence, the Triplet Attack sequence and the No Man Attack sequence. These features never really do that much for me and this one is no exception.
Finally a commercial for Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash staring Smith and Mewes selling their comic book store in Red Bank, New Jersey.
Do we count HD trailers for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Company and Damages: Season One as extras ...? No, I didn't think so.
VerdictAlthough at the time this was Smith's biggest budget film, only the fleeting CGI would give any indication, since in terms of style and aesthetics this is pretty much the same as everything he had produced up until that point. It is full of the sort of dialogue he is famous for, complex arguments between two competents and the flow is such that it begs to be listened to. Smith manages to skirt controversial issues and take others full on all wrapped up in a witty script containing profanity and a crap dæmon. What more could you want?
As a Blu-ray set the package is pretty good, an average picture is bolstered by a pretty good sound mix but gains a huge plus with the wealth of extra material. Maybe not such a huge upgrade from the 2-disc special edition but one that few will argue with.
PictureThe disc is given a theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 aspect, 1080p print using the AVC mpeg 4 codec. All rather disappointing. Smith's style of directing negate any wow factor framing, no landscape drawing shots or deep frame depth here; so the enhanced depth of frame of 1080p is wasted. However, far worse than this is the detail of the print itself; it is so soft and flat as to be boring! Both distance and foreground both suffer from being lifeless. Ok, it's not bad, in the sense that SD is not bad it's just when you come to HD you expect better and that simply is not the case. There were perhaps a couple of scenes when I thought this could be HD, and that was because signs or newspaper print were quite readable and crisp. Other than that I'd struggle to demonstrate to anyone how much better an HD print is over SD with this disc.
Colours are resoundingly solid even if the pallet is somewhat drab; the primaries are strong enough and show no signs of bleed or wash shown up delightfully with the Mooby logos or the splashes of blood. Flesh tones were kept pretty well except on the odd occasion when a definite pink hue came over, though this was rare. Brightness and contrast are set well; the blacks are deep and solid enough, although the film doesn't really use them. Shadow detail is reasonable if, once again, rarely used. Whites are a little overblown but not too distracting.
Thankfully there are no compression problems or edge enhancement to contend with and the original print is very clean, with grain only showing up when the blue sky is shown towards the beginning and at the end, however it positively crawls during these scenes.
So, in all good conscience I am struggling to give this print a good mark; there is a reasonable amount of good, colours and brightness, but I can't overlook the softness of the print. It does look better than its previous incarnations on DVD, but it as an HD print it is severely lacking.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.97
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