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.