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Neil Marshall
Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Liam Cunningham
Writing Credits:
Neil Marshall

A routine military exercise turns into a nightmare in the Scotland wilderness.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $36.98
Release Date: 8/23/2022

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Neil Marshall
• Audio Commentary with Producers David E. Allen and Brian O’Toole
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Associate Professor of Film Alison Peirse
• “Werewolves, Crawlers, Cannibals and More” Featurette
• “A History of Lycanthropy” Featurette
• “Werewolves, Folklore and Cinema” Video Essay
• “Werewolves Vs. Soldiers” Documentary
• “A Cottage in the Woods” Featurette
Combat Short Film
• Photo Galleries
• Trailers
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Dog Soldiers [4K UHD] (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 21, 2022)

Given its title, one might assume 2002’s Dog Soldiers would offer a war movie, but the cover you see on the left shows something more in the horror vein. In reality, the end result melds the two genres.

A squad of British soldiers visits the Scottish highlands on a routine training mission. While there, they hear tales of a local supernatural menace, but they dismiss these as cheap folklore.

Bad call, as they realize when they encounter Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham), the only survivor of a Special Ops group that got ripped to shreds by werewolves. This leads to a desperate attempt to stay alive when the lycanthropes come a-knockin’.

Writer/director Neil Marshall made his feature debut with Soldiers but after three more movies, he largely went on to work in TV series like Game of Thrones and Westworld. 2019’s terrible Hellboy marked his return to the big screen, which Marshall followed up with the even crummier 2020 tale The Reckoning.

Soldiers manages to give us a product superior to Marshall’s Hellboy or Reckoning. This becomes the definition of an exceedingly low bar, though.

Objectively, Soldiers brings an erratic but watchable mix of action and horror. Again, compared to Marshall’s last two movies, it looks really good, but it still suffers from too many problems.

Most of these occur in the movie’s flawed first act. For one, Marshall shows too little confidence in his material, as he opens the film with an unnecessary prologue.

In this sequence, a couple gets attacked by werewolves during a camping trip. Many horror movies follow this route and throw out some violence early because they’ll not get to the meat of the matter until much later in the tale.

I understand that fear that if a flick like this waits too long for action, it might lose the audience. However, this still feels like a copout, especially because the prologue damages the rest of the first act.

For one, the scene eliminates any tension about whether or not werewolves stalk the woods. As subsequent characters speculate about this possibility, we grow impatient because we know the truth.

In addition, the camping sequence crushes the “folklore” discussion among the soldiers. They actually discuss the murder of the campers but because we see this, the debate about the story turns moot.

Even though the prologue intends to prevent audience impatience, it actually makes the first act slower than it should be. This occurs mainly because we know of the actual threat and get bored as we wait for the characters to catch up with us.

It takes about 30 minutes for the soldiers to confront the beasties, but it feels like a much longer span. These poor narrative choices mean the flick drags more than it should.

At least for that opening span, as Soldiers picks up around that 30-minute mark. At that point, it shifts from “atmospheric horror movie” into a riff on 1986’s classic Aliens.

As I write this, I’ve not screened any of this package’s supplements, so I don’t know anyone involved will fess up to this influence. Such an admission seems unnecessary, though, as it becomes so patently obvious that the James Cameron film acts as inspiration for a whole lot of the tale.

I won’t dig into the similarities too much, as they might veer into spoiler territory. Suffice it to say that anyone familiar with Aliens will find it easy to spot the connections, as they abound.

Despite these clear allusions, Soldiers manages to create a reasonably good action experience – once we get past that problematic first act, at least. While the movie might lack creativity, it still delivers a fairly tense experience that keeps us with it most of the time.

Some good performances help. The actors buy into the material well and give the fantastic narrative the grounding it needs to succeed.

Camerawork becomes another issue in that iffy first act, as Marshall heavily embraces ugly “shakycam”. During these scenes, this doesn’t feel like “documentary-style” photography, as it comes across more like someone strapped a camera to a manic monkey and hoped for the best.

Marshall shows more restraint once we get into the second act, though. The annoying camerawork largely vanishes and seems more traditional, which helps make the movie more involving.

Too derivative and erratic to become a great movie, I can’t call Soldiers anything special. Still, after its problematic opening, it kicks into gear fairly well.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus A-

Dog Soldiers appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The Dolby Vision presentation didn’t dazzle, but it appeared to offer a pretty good representation of the source.

For the most part, sharpness worked fine. Some modest instances of softness cropped up at times, but the majority of the movie showed reasonably solid delineation.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain seemed fairly natural – albeit perhaps a little diminished given the Super 16 source - and I noticed no print flaws.

Given the Scottish setting, colors tended toward a subdued mix of green and brown. These didn’t exactly excite the eyes, but the disc appeared to reproduce them as intended. HDR brought added depth to the tones, even if they didn’t show much pop.

Blacks were generally pretty deep and dense, while shadows displayed largely appealing clarity. HDR gave whites and contrast a little more impact, though again, the intentionally drab look of the movie meant HDR could only contribute so much. No one will use this to show off their big TVs, but the 4K felt like a quality version of the material.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, it seemed perfectly competent but not inspiring. Unsurprisingly, the movie’s occasional action/horror scenes offered the most bang for the buck.

These managed to open up the soundscape fairly well, as they brought some useful material in the side and rear channels. Much of the movie stayed chatty, though, so don’t expect lots of vibrant information.

This meant a mix that emphasized the front channels, where score showed nice stereo music. Again, the overall soundfield kicked into gear at times and became sporadically involving, but the track didn’t create a consistently dynamic environment.

Audio quality seemed positive, with speech that came across as natural and distinctive. Music was reasonably full and vivid.

Effects showed accurate tones, with clear highs and moderately deep lows. As with the visuals, nothing here stood out as top-notch, but the soundtrack did what it needed to do.

A bunch of extras appear, and on the 4K itself, we find three separate audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/director Neil Marshall, as he brings a running, screen-specific look at the project's origins and development, story and characters, influences, various effects, cast and performances, sets and locations, music and editing, stunts, sequel thoughts and related domains.

Marshall's commentary starts well, as he covers a lot of good ground during the movie's first act. However, he loses steam as he goes.

This means we get a fair amount of dead air along the way. Marshall tells us enough of interest to keep us with the commentary, but the track sputters some after a strong start.

For the second commentary, we hear from producers David E. Allen and Brian O’Toole. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific view of cast and crew, sets and locations, effects and stunts, and connected production domains.

Though it can repeat some of the info from Marshall’s commentary, this nonetheless becomes a fairly engaging chat. Allen dominates and throws out enough useful material to make the track worth a listen.

Finally, we get a commentary from writer/associate professor of film Alison Peirse. During this running, screen-specific chat, Peirse covers the werewolf genre, views of Soldiers and her take on the flick.

At times, Peirse manages some interesting thoughts on the subjects she addresses. However, the discussion leans toward narration a little too often, and it feels less coherent than I’d like.

On the included Blu-ray copy, a slew of additional features appear. Werewolves, Crawlers, Cannibals and More runs 38 minutes, 26 seconds and brings another interview with Marshall.

In this chat, Marshall discusses his childhood interest in movies and how he got into filmmaking, the roots and development of Soldiers, aspects of the production, and the rest of his career.

Marshall’s work outside of Soldiers becomes the dominant topic here, and that means only a little redundant material from his commentary. He seems honest about this career and even lambastes his 2019 Hellboy as a terrible movie. “Crawlers” doesn’t become the most coherent chat, but Marshall nonetheless provides some good notes.

A History of Lycanthropy lasts 33 minutes, 21 seconds and features author Gavin Baddely. He tells us about the werewolf film genre and aspects of Soldiers. Baddely jumps around a bit more than I’d like, but he still gives us a decent overview.

Next comes Werewolves, Folklore and Cinema, a 23-minute, 24-second video essay from author Mikel J. Koven. He looks at lycanthropes in culture over the years, with some emphasis on movies. Koven delivers a pretty engaging view of the topic.

Werewolves Vs. Soldiers spans one hour, one minute, 50 seconds and features Marshall, producers Christopher Figg and Keith Bell, cinematographer Sam McCurdy, production designer Simon Bowles, special makeup/VFX supervisor Bob Keen, special makeup effects supervisor Dave Bonneywell, and actors Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Darren Morfitt and Leslie Simpson.

“Soldiers” examines the movie’s roots and development, creature design and creation, sets and locations, cast and performances, various effects, and general thoughts. With an hour at its disposal, “Soldiers” could offer a broader perspective and discuss more filmmaking domains than it does.

Nonetheless, “Soldiers” still offers a pretty good program. In particular, I like the notes from the actors, and though not comprehensive, the show feels enjoyable.

With A Cottage in the Woods, we get a 13-minute, 26-second featurette that involves Bowles as he discusses the movie’s main set. He gives us a solid little view of this domain.

From 1999, a short film called Combat occupies seven minutes, 37 seconds. It provides a comedic piece that equates the romantic scene with military battles. It doesn’t flesh out that theme terribly well but it delivers some entertainment value.

In addition to five trailers, the disc ends with two Galleries: “Dog Soldiers Photo Gallery” (57 images) and “Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery” (26). The former seems forgettable, but the latter comes with some good elements, and useful onscreen text adds to their value.

Note that the included Blu-ray comes from the same transfer as the 4K. Shout produced a Blu-ray in 2015 that I never saw but that received pretty bad reviews in terms of picture quality.

Presumably the 2022 disc fares better than its 2015 predecessor, but it doesn’t exist outside of this 4K package – at least not as I write in August 2022. Perhaps it will get a solo release eventually.

As part of a crowded horror genre, Dog Soldiers breaks no new ground, and it borrows far too heavily for Aliens. Nonetheless, despite a bad first act, the movie comes with enough thrills and tension to deliver a pretty lively tale. The 4K UHD comes with generally positive picture and audio as well as a slew of bonus materials. Soldiers never quite excels but it still packs a decent punch much of the time.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main