Neil Marshalls Dog Soldiers has gotten a glorious special release from Second Sight Films. The top-notch werewolf horror still packs a punch with how effective it is and has barely aged a day.
During a routine training mission in the Scottish Highlands, a small squad of happy-go-lucky British soldiers, including Cooper (Kevin McKidd), led by Sergeant Wells (Sean Pertwee), plan to join a Special Operations unit… but when they arrive, all they find is bloody remains – and only one survivor, C.O. Ryan (Liam Cunningham).
Neil Marshall came out of the gate with feature films magnificently; Dog Soldiers remains one of his best and most memorable films, and for a good reason. It is a bloody good horror film and one of the best werewolf films ever. It somehow could toe the line between scary and funny without negating the other. You can’t help but love the film, and to see it on this fantastic set, is more pleasing.
What is to love about the restoration is how much grain we still get. It is gorgeous and puts a focus on how Dog Soldiers was originally intended. This is a film that should not have a clean version. We should always see and feel the textures on the screen. There has been great care put in to keep it like this while balancing out aspects like the vibrancy and black levels. What results is an authenticity that others forget to keep.
There isn’t much at all that you can fault in Dog Soldiers; it showed what Marshall could do with a limited budget despite having the wildest of scopes. It is fun when it needs to be and heartbreaking when you least want it to be. I hadn’t revisited the film in a while, and it caught me by surprise how many great moments there are here.
The film’s real star is the casting, which in retrospect, feels inspired. McKidd, Pertwee, Cunningham and Emma Cleasby are all great character actors who can bring their own to the roles and, importantly, allow Marshall to focus on the difficult task of getting what needed to be a large budget film done for considerably less. In addition, all the actors bounce well off one another and seem to be all in on the action scenes.
For a first feature of the early 2000s, Dog Soldiers came and catapulted Marshall onto some great things, and it is great to go back and remember just how good Dog Soldiers is.
• A new 4K restoration from the original camera negative approved by director Neil Marshall and
director of photography Sam McCurdy
• Features 4K UHD and Blu-ray with bonus features on both formats
• 4K UHD presented in Dolby Vision HDR
• Archive audio commentary by Director Neil Marshall
• Archive audio commentary by Producers David E. Allen and Brian O’Toole
• New audio commentary by writer and Associate Professor of Film Alison Peirse
• Werewolves, Crawlers, Cannibals and More: a new 40-minute interview with Neil Marshall
• A History of Lycanthropy: author Gavin Baddeley on Werewolf Cinema
• Werewolves, Folklore and Cinema: a video essay by author Mikel J. Koven
• Werewolves vs Soldiers: The Making of Dog Soldiers with Neil Marshall, Producers Christopher Figg
and Keith Bell, Actors Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Darren Morfitt, Leslie Simpson and Emma
Cleasby, Special Effects Artist Bob Keen and more!
• A Cottage in the Woods: an interview with Production Designer Simon Bowles
• Combat: a short film by Neil Marshall
• Deleted Scenes and Gag Reel with optional commentary by Neil Marshall
• Trailers and Photo Gallery
• Optional English subtitles for the hearing impaired
Limited Edition Contents
• Rigid slipcase with new artwork by Chris Malbon
• 108-page book with new essays by Craig Ian Mann, Alison Peirse, Zoë Rose Smith, Anya Stanley,
exclusive interview with Neil Marshall by Matthew Thrift, plus behind-the-scenes photos
• Six collectors’ art cards
Neil Marshall is always great for a commentary track as he lays down as much information as physically possible. If he misses a bit here or there, the producer commentary covers us up. We are given a new commentary from Alison Peirse, which is also well worth a listen as some valuable thoughts are brought up here.
The new career interview with Neil Marshall is a get retrospective of what he has done thus far. One thing you have to appreciate about him as a filmmaker is that he is honest and does not hold back when getting into films that did not work as well as his first two. You get a lot out of him in these 40 minutes, and it has you rooting for him to get another great feature script; as we have seen with Games of Thrones, he still hasn’t lost that touch as a director.
We get a couple of pieces on Werewolf horror, and they are interested; sadly, Mikel J Koven’s wasn’t filmed in person and as such loses a bit in it, which is a shame, though you are never bored as you go through each. On the other hand, the making-off features are wonderful (as you would expect from a Marshall film if we are being honest). We get a tonne of stuff here, and even if you have watched it before as I have on other sets, you will find yourself happily watching it again.
For those on the fence about an upgrade, I would certainly suggest you go for it, there are enough new extras to go for, and I honestly do not see there being a better release of the film than this one coming. So, you know what to do if you want the most definitive edition.
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