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View Full Version : REVIEW: Dog Soldiers [2002] No Spoilers


JohnShaft
12-08-2002, 12:11 AM
Hi, I've recently discovered your site (which I really like btw) so thought I'd introduce myself and post a review of a film you haven't reviewed yet.

I recently started up my own horror website www.horrorexpress.com since which I've become very interested in the online horror community. Hope you don't mind me mentioning my site. I'd certainly appreciate any traffic or comments.

Without further ado then, here's my review of:
DOG SOLDIERS [2002] NO Spoilers:
Since hearing about it earlier this year I have had high hopes for Dog Soldiers. Would it bring some bite back to the recently toothless werewolf movie? Could it spark a revieval in long traditional, now dead, British Horror?

Dog Soldiers is so obviously British, in so many ways. It looks more like British TV than Hollywood blockbuster. So be warned, if Hollywood polish is your thing, Dog Soldiers probably isn't.
Directed and written by Neil Marshall (Producer of Hellraiser?), it upon analysis seems less an original creation and more a mix of various other well known films.

For concept, take the "Werewolves alive in north Britain" angle (American Werewolf in London).
For plot, start with a group of soldiers being hunted in the woods (Predator) and finish off with them barricading themselves up in a house, fighting to survive till dawn (Night of the Living Dead).
So, okaaay, it might not beat you over the head with originality but the idea of stranding half a dozen soldiers in a forest full of werewolves is just so, well, cooooool...

After a quick off screen introduction to the werewolf we are then introduced to the cast. A motley crew of British soldiers on an exercise in the middle of the Scottish Highlands. From the getgo the dialogue is colourful, and British. No Dick Van Dyke accents or lines here, the language is authentic in a way only a Brit can truly appreciate.
The cast is also (thank god!) all British, and led by a gruff Scot (McKidd) and a couple of foulmouthed, wisecracking Geordies. So no stereotypes there then!
A couple of things are immediately apparent though. One, the cast is made up of unknowns, the exception being Sean Pertwee (son of Doctor Who's John). Two, that some of the young actors practically scream "How do I do this acting, then?" at times. They are *that* raw.
The actors though are at their best when the dialogue is at its funniest, when the soldiers are wisecracking amongst themselves. Darren Morfitt (the raw Geordie) particularly excels as the often funny Spoon. This guys comic delivery is excellent.

At the half hour mark, the werewolf makes its first appearance. At first it is merely glimpsed in flashes, as, in silouette, it chases the soldiers through the twilit woods. It makes for a perfect introduction to the lycanthropes.
Seconds later, when the Soldiers decide to play patty-cake with the werewolves arm through the roof of a landrover, I was just dying to shout "For fucks sake! Just get your gun out and blow it's fucking head off!"

After escaping the clutches of the Werewolf Act 2 sees the soldiers holed up in an empty house holding the furry bastards at bay.
Going into the film one of my fears was "Would the werewolves be realistic enough to allow Dog Soldiers to be a 'serious' horror film?"

That fear is answered as soon as you get the first real look at them and I have to say (for a non Hollywood blockbuster) they look DAMN good. No CGI shit here, just big men in big furry suits, but the wolves have a real indefinable quality about them. They (mostly) don't look (or feel) like men in suits. O.K. they sometimes look like they are acting their movements but only in the extended shots.
They are wolves in the shape of men, more like The Howling than American Werewolf. Hell they even sound good, particularly the yelps of pain as they are riddled with bullets.

This is also the point you realise the real direction of the film.
What I expected, or maybe hoped, was that Dog Soldiers would be a 'real' horror movie. None of this self deprecating Scream shit. Not even an Evil Dead comedy.
I wanted Dog' to be a movie about soldiers experiencing the mind numbing terror of facing real killing machines. The trauma of Private Ryan, only facing an enemy that you CANNOT kill...

The further through the film goes though the less serious the situation and it's antagonists are treated. The soldiers aren't shitting themselves shouting "What the fuck are these things?!". They take it in stride, guns at the ready, chewing gum and making fun of the enemy. British badasses (Hell they are Northern!) that make John Wayne look like Shirley Temple. Send these guys to Iraq and Saddam is toast.

For some unexplicable reason Pertwee, the best actor among them, is barely featured in the middle half of the film. I guess though being that the film isn't overly serious that 'real acting' isn't needed. Still a waste of talent though.

Unfortunately, at least for me, when Dog Soldiers needed to go for the jugular we get 'quipping in the face of death' of legendary proportions. This isn't Evil Dead comedy, but some of the parting lines delivered late in the film have to be heard to be believed. Arnie eat your heart out.

Dog Soldiers is without doubt a good film. Hell it's *definitely* a fun film. It has many things going for it that make it a recommendation.
It just unfortunately isn't the film *I* was hoping for.

I have a feeling though that despite all that, Dog Soldiers, like fur, will grow on me...

puddytay
12-08-2002, 03:28 AM
yeah I didnt care for the movie either but I did enjoy the last 30 mins the rest of it was pretty boring in my opinion tho.

KillerCannabis
12-08-2002, 03:45 AM
I still havent seen it, but my friend did and he told me it was worth it. I've seen a multitude of copies at BB, so I might have to swing on over and snatch one up. I've been so tired of werewolf films as of late, anything that gets a half-decent review is worth a viewing to me.

hell ya!
12-08-2002, 03:54 AM
I loved this move

Andrew
12-08-2002, 06:45 AM
I liked it okay. Was a bit disappointed, but the scenes early on when they're running from the wolves are pretty sweet. I thought it pretty much went downhill after the "surgery" scene though.

mcchrist
12-08-2002, 07:19 AM
I'm still waiting to see this, I can't find copies anywhere. BTW John, welcome aboard!

englishken
12-08-2002, 06:40 PM
best movie of 2002 and not a yank in sight;)

ZombieDrummer
12-08-2002, 07:32 PM
the website......the layers are screwed up or sommin, text under text and that kinda stuff, dunno perhaps its cos im at 800x600?

JohnShaft
12-08-2002, 09:02 PM
Thanks for the welcome mc, all.

And thanks for mentioning the issue about overlaying text ZombieD. I think I've resolved the problem now so it should display ok as long as the 800x600 window is not minimized. Think it was only a small issue with the mini review text, and maybe the "guess the film" box. Thanks for mentioning it though.
It is due to your screen resolution 800x600, which is the only res that causes me problems, because I can fit so little on the screen!

If you check out the horror sites on the web (hell even non horror sites) hardly any of them bother with the resizing issue so it looks utterly crap in the higher resolutions. Those that do bother often don't resize everything proportionally.
And adding the feature to choose different skins to change the look of the site complicates things no end.

As for Dog Soldiers yeah I think, for what it was trying to do, it was an excellent film. And for those who liked it there is also another "British Soldiers attacked by the supernatural" that has just hit our cinemas, it's called Deathwatch. There is some info and links to it on my site, and maybe a review of it coming soon.
Horror is much better with a strong input from Britain I think, like in the old days of Hammer...

BloodMan
12-09-2002, 07:19 AM
Damn... I gotta see this movie... Have to!!! I love da wolfman moviesss!
:) :) :)

Nick

dwatts
03-14-2005, 12:53 PM
I visited this for the second time last night. I actually enjoyed it just as much, although now all the initial hype is over, it does play out as being "quiant" in some way. Still, as a werewolf film it works very well, imo.

Whatever happened to the second film?

John Gargo
03-14-2005, 01:23 PM
I've caught this on television a couple of times and I really enjoyed it. Perhaps not as good as GINGER SNAPS as far as recent werewolf movies go, it's arguably more exciting and violent though.

maskull
03-15-2005, 09:10 AM
I've watched this movie a few times. probably once every couple of months. I think that it's a really good film (one of the best werewolf films). the build up isn't really rushed, the chase had some nice tension, the one-liners were actually funny and it holds up to multiple viewings. plus Geordies are always a good thing :-)

thrashard76
03-24-2005, 05:14 AM
I've been interested in obtaining this one but is it true that the R1 release of this is supposedly cut?

allmessedup
03-25-2005, 07:49 AM
I thought it was a fun movie--had a blast watching it. Don't know if it's something I'd really watch again though.

maskull
03-25-2005, 09:09 PM
I've been interested in obtaining this one but is it true that the R1 release of this is supposedly cut?
I hadn't heard that. I hope it's not true. otherwise I'll have to track down the uncut version and get it. I hate double dipping!

Stige
03-25-2005, 10:37 PM
I thought the entire movie was just stunning. Maybe because I went in blind, who knows I love it

tobaccoman
03-26-2005, 12:14 AM
I don't remember seeing this, however I've been told I did. I want to check it out "again", might have to rent that too (along with Toolbox Murders).

geeare
03-26-2005, 02:59 AM
i thought it was great! I went right to my collection and pulled out American Werewolf in London and watched it.

Fumi
03-27-2005, 01:11 AM
I could just never get into that movie for some reason. It's got good characters, good atmosphere, good werewolves, but it never got me the least bit interested. Maybe it was just dull, maybe the tension just wasn't convincing, I dunno.

DVD Connoisseur
08-16-2005, 01:08 PM
I loved Dog Soldiers...maybe I'm biased because it was a British movie but I thought it sizzled. Great dialogue, convincing performances, a multitude of werewolves...what more could you ask for?

Bring on Fresh Meat!