The Dictator Blu-ray Review
Presented as an AVC-Mpeg 2.40:1 picture and filmed digitally, the picture looks soft and over processed in many shots. The lack of decent lighting has led to wide open iris settings on the camera and this affects depth of field and sharpness. The transfer is clean enough, but not as good as a digital production can or should be. The difference between the harsh sunlight of the desert and the softer autumn shades of NYC do come across well, but internal shots could be anywhere. Camerawork is a bit safe and boring on the whole and little effort has been made to make the best of the format. The few dark shots have poor low level detail, no doubt hidden by the same softness that afflicts the rest of the film. Colour balance is not that well controlled and in the busiest scenes the image does fall apart due to some part of the acquisition, editing or mastering process being unable to keep up with the ever changing picture, causing subtle blocking.
The DTS-HD Master audio stream is fine, but nothing outstanding. Vocals are clean, surround well used and effects accurately positioned. The music score is mainly annoying pseudo Arabic music with a few orchestral elements added in as well. Some of these songs are parodies of more recent pop tracks, so some enjoyment can be gleaned from working out what they are supposed to be. The LFE channel is well used and nicely balanced. This is one of the better technical aspects of the movie. It lacks subtlety, but you could level this accusation at any part of the movie.
The disc grinds and clanks into life, playing through a trailer or two before we get to the movie menu. Once there, the options are limited. As well as two versions of the film – the cinematic presentation and an extended home release, we get three other extras to explore. The extended and deleted scenes can be viewed individually or in sequence. Some are quite funny and it would have been nice to see some of them in the film, as they explain a few oddities in the main feature. The Music video is just Cohen prancing around in his pants and is utterly pointless on so many levels. The Larry King interview however is funny and quite well produced. It gets a bit predictable but it is not too long.
Pretty average fare for a current Blu-ray release.
Where Borat was different and in some respects quite innovative, after 3 cinematic outings, the format is now tired. Poking fun at terrorism and the paranoia around attacks is bound to alienate quite a few people, but they probably won’t buy this sort of movie anyway. Unlike Bruno, this movie was quite heavily scripted and enjoys higher production values. In this respect it is close to Borat, albeit made in a completely different style – no fly on the wall documentary here. Unfortunately this limits Cohen’s talent to improvise and react to the response he elicits. This is not the best vehicle for his talents and the movie does suffer as a result.
Technically, the camera work is poor and the direction sloppy. Even something like Doctor Who which is made for TV looks better than this. The main issue is that insufficient lighting has been added in to many exterior shots leading to too much make up gain and wide open exposure. The picture is soft and the sound average. The slow loading disc and poor extras does little to claw things back.
If you like your humour puerile and you are not easily offended, you will find things to smirk at, but compared to earlier films, the gags feel forced and the format tired. Maybe it’s time to move on to a more grown up form of entertainment.
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