Alpha Dog

Cover Art and Menu: 8/10
This movie out shines any cover or menu, but they do a pretty good job of packaging, I must say. I like the color and layout of the cover and the menu matches, so that’s a lot more than we are getting most of the time these days. This isn’t a flashy story that is glossy or big action, it’s about people and their decisions that lead down some dark paths. The cover clues us in that one person shines through, but doesn’t put any sentiment or emotion out there for us to pick up on necessarily.

Features: 7/10

  • A Cautionary Tale The Making Of Alpha Dog – This extra doesn’t have any interviews with any of the real people involved in the events the movie depicts, but the performers and director talk about the real life tragedy behind Alpha Dog. They show a few tid bits about how they got some of the more intense scenes on film with some tough love acting and research into the actual murder case.
  • Witness Timeline – This is a true effort by a DVD author, or film company, or who ever. They have taken REAL witnesses in the murder trials and put their statements in sections along with the parts of the movie where they were shown to help keep this story as real as possible. It’s cool and a little bit chilling to read their comments. It takes “based on a true story” to a whole other place.

The Movie 8/10:
I am impressed. This is a solid film with a story that doesn’t just touch on some dynamic characters and issues of troubled youth, but it’s a really well written, acted, and directed movie. I was not prepared to like it. I thought it might be a punk ass flick with pretentious stuff like Timberlake being some kind of tough guy who prances around in a goofy hat, but I was totally wrong.

Not only did Timberlake NOT suck, he was really good. There were moments of blah, but most of the time he was spot on. I’m not saying this because he’s the main feature of the film, but if you saw that Timberlake was in it and thought..”Bullhockey, I’m not watching the Michael Jackson wannabe slick boy try to act.” I’m here to tell you not to let that get in the way of giving this movie a chance.

Ok, enough of the singer turned actor thing. This is a story about a real life event that happened in the late 90’s in California. It’s all tangled up with 20-somethings trying to be gangsters and make up their own little mob with chicks, guns and drugs to keep them sweet and make them feel tough enough to conquer the world. It’s like the Sopranos watered down with youth and naiveté.

One guy is the “boss” and when someone comes along who owes him money he’s not nice about how he wants to be repaid. He’s got a few on a short leash, one who wants to lick his ass all the time and another who is a loose cannon ready to go berserk at anytime, and that’s pretty much what happens. Money is owed, egos are challenged and the one way ticket to despair is paved with bad choices and misplaced pride.

Everyone gives good performance. The style is direct but not overly functional so as not to drain the life out of the whole thing. The story builds perfectly and we are taken along for the ride, learning to like, or tolerate different people involved. I personally got attached to most of the characters, which is rare when there are dickheads and losers involved, but that’s a nod to the writing and how the director got the best of the actors to keep their biggest baddest traits from making them into monsters or “the bad guys to hate”.

One of my complaints about most movies where there is a big conflict is that I don’t end up caring enough about anyone to be invested in the outcome. This movie got me hooked from the start and I was fully locked in for the whole ride. I wanted the best, or the worst, or whatever to happen. I was actually engaged with the story and each person, so that’s an amazing thing these days, especially with the whole gangster and guns mentality of some modern tales.

I highly recommend Alpha Dog for so many reasons. It’s got a lot of dubious stuff like drugs and sex and violence, yes. You make the call as to whether you are prepared for it. It’s a true story and told as close to the real deal as possible without taking away the dramatic impact.

Value: 7/10
It looks like you can get this DVD online for a variety of prices, from 10 bucks up to almost 30. It’s worth a slot on the DVD shelf, but then I don’t agree with paying full price for almost anything, soooooo. If you can’t find it for less than 20, rent it for now and wait it out. It’s an excellent movie and if you appreciate it as much as I do, you will recommend to, or show it to your friends, so it’s good to have it close by.

Overall Score 8/10