The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2012
MPAA Rating: R/Unrated
Feature running time: 83/98 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Portuguese, French, Spanish
Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Anna Faris
Directed by: Larry Charles
Music by: Erran Baron Cohen
Written by: Sacha Baron Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 21, 2012
From the creators of Borat comes the hilarious story of a North African dictator (Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat, Bruno, Da Ali G Show) who, on a visit to New York, is stripped of his power and forced to get a real job at a Brooklyn health food store.
I try to take films at face value but am not the biggest fan of Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedy. “Borat” was a bit much although I will admit that it has its share of moments. I saw Cohen in character as The Dictator at last year’s Academy Awards where he proceeded to dump some kind of powdery concoction all over a noticeably miffed Ryan Seacrest. Other than that I really hadn’t heard anything about the film and hadn’t thought about it again until I received some of its home video release promo material followed by the Blu-ray for review.
Paramount includes both the theatrical and an unrated version which runs 15 minutes longer. I opted for the 83 minute theatrical cut which honestly turned out better than expected. Those familiar with Cohen’s penchant for crass humor and over the top character shtick will feel right at home in this fish out of water story about Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen, a childish, lecherous, misogynous, anti-western and antisemitic dictator of the small North African Republic of Wadiya who refuses to allow Wadiyan oil to be sold internationally and is secretly working on developing nuclear weapons. Aladeen comes to New York in furtherance of his political agenda to speak to a delegation of world leaders. Unbeknownst to him people in his inner circle arrange to have him kidnapped and replaced with a double who will sign an agreement westernizing Wadiya.
He manages to escape his captors but had his beard shaved in the process and is now essentially unrecognizable. As luck would have it Aladeen, now stranded in NY City, meets a local activist named Zoey, and heads to New York’s “Little Wadiya” where he meets up with refugees from his country, one of whom agrees to help him undo the treachery that has befallen him and return him to power before the document signing. Of course there is much more to the story as Aladeen learns a thing or two about democracy, love (including ways to please one’s self), and the meaning of being a leader.
The Dictator like some of Sacha Baron Cohen’s other film projects relies on low brow humor and graphic situations to elicit audience reaction. It incorporates its fair share of funny slapstick and clever spoofs/gags some of which work pretty well. The satire and political edginess seems a bit dialed back for Cohen and the story has a somewhat more conventional feel than I expected. Depending on your viewpoint these could be seen as negatives especially if you’re a fan of Cohen’s previous works. I didn’t find that it detracted from the experience which occasionally had me laughing out loud. In addition to Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Jason Matzoukas and Anna Faris there are a number of well know faces that have cameos. This includes John C. Reilly, Edward Norton, Megan Fox and Fred Armisen.
It would be fair to say that I found The Dictator to be entertaining and probably in a way that for Cohen fans is less than what they are accustomed to. It is far from mainstream comedy and is best reserved for those that enjoy its particular brand of storytelling.
The film contains strong crude and sexual content, brief graphic male nudity, language and some violent images.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Dictator comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.4 Mbps.
This film was shot digitally and has a bit of a smooth but refined texture that compliments the source material. Detail and resolution are well rendered with respectable subtle nuance and three dimensional image quality that is discernible in both close-up and long distant camera shots. Colors exhibit rich depth with vibrant textures and clean rendering. Fleshtones are predominantly lifelike in depiction and blend well with the film’s chromatic aesthetic. Contrast is spot on and Black levels are deep enough so that dark scenes have good dynamic range and visibility in shadowy areas. The video has a pristine quality and appeared free of any video related artifacts or blemishes.
The lossless audio presentation provides a well balanced mix that features clearly articulated dialogue and a wide front soundstage. Surround activity extends the soundstage and comes in the form of musical ambience and a varied blend of venue replicating diffusion and sound effects. This isn’t an aggressive surround mix but at times it filled the room with clean, detailed and atmospheric surround sound that heightened the experience.
- Theatrical & Unrated versions of The Dictator
- (HD) 15 Deleted and extended scenes
- Music video – Best loved song – “Your money is on the dresser” – Faux awards show
- (HD) Larry King’s interview of Admiral General Aladeen – 2 minutes
- Bonus DVD – Theatrical version
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
The Dictator is a character driven scattershot comedy that features Sacha Baron Cohen doing what he does best. I don’t consider myself a fan of his films per se but will admit to finding them to be provocatively entertaining. Such is the case here. The Dictator makes its way to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring gratifying high definition audio/video quality and a sparse supplemental offering that consists of some extended/deleted scenes and promotional shorts. If you’re a fan this is worth picking up otherwise no more than a rental when you’re in the mood for a little crass humor.
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