A Dog’s Journey Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews A Dog’s Journey, the sequel to 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose, which tells the story of a dog that finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he meets.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

86

Details:

Studio and Year: Universal – 2019
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 109 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Marg Helgenberger, Betty Gilpin, Henry Lau, Kathryn Prescott, Josh Gad
Directed by: Gail Mancuso
Music by: Mark Isham
Written by: W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon, Maya Forbes, Wally Wolodarsky – Based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: August 20, 2019

“Some Friendships Transcend Lifetimes”

Synopsis:

“Picking up where A Dog’s Purpose left off, A Dog’s Journey continues the tale of lovable farm dog Bailey, as he finds a new destiny and forms an unbreakable bond, and learns that some friendships transcend lifetimes.” – Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

My Take:

Bailey (voiced again by Josh Gad) is living the good life on the Michigan farm of his former “boy” now grown to manhood, Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Ethan’s wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). He even has a new playmate: Ethan and Hannah’s baby granddaughter, CJ. Everything is great on the farm until CJ’s mom, Gloria, decides to take CJ away and chase her own fulfillment in the big city. Ethan asks Bailey to watch over CJ wherever she goes and thus begins Bailey’s adventure through multiple lives filled with love, friendship and devotion as he, CJ, and CJ’s best friend Trent experience joy and heartbreak, music and laughter, and few really good belly rubs.

I enjoyed 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose and thought I would begin with some of my comments from that review:

I haven’t read the novel, and chances are I won’t, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying A Dog’s Purpose. Heartwarming, and offering an interesting take on the “man’s best friend” genre, the film tells an insightful tale about a dog named Bailey, a puppy born without a family, who by happenstance, finds his way to Ethan, a little boy, with a lot of love to give him. The entire first act of the film is devoted to the building an establishment of their relationship, and sees their link forged around some of life’s ups and downs. Bailey and Ethan share what will become a transcendent bond, that for Bailey, will last through several lifetimes, eventually bringing him full circle, to a time when Ethan will need him again.

A Dog’s Journey like its predecessor is based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron who co-wrote the screenplay. Whereas I found the opening act of the first film to be charming, funny, and heartwarming, albeit, formulaic and predictable, the first act here seems rushed, devoid of proper emotional foundation and serves as a quick segue into the series of “shorts” where Bailey is reborn again in order to fulfill the elements of his journey. Journey really isn’t the operative word as this film feels more like a purpose or mission. The establishment of the relationships between the principal characters are beset by poorly conceived foundations, especially between Gloria and CJ and CJ and Trent.

I did enjoy the handling of the various dogs and for the most part, their connection to CJ. The timelines don’t really seem to hold water but, it’s fine. A Dog’s Journey much like its predecessor, has its emotional center in the right place while trying a bit too hard to ply the audience with cute and cuddly pooches rather than a well-rounded story that successfully incorporates elements of both. It’s not quite as good as the first film but, I suspect that those with a devoted four-legged companion won’t have any trouble enjoying it.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide: 

The rating is for thematic elements, some peril and rude humor.

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.**

Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

A Dog’s Journey comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This is an excellent video presentation that seems a perfect match for the source material. Colors are deeply saturated with eye pleasing vitality and delineated depth. Images are resolute, with stable sharpness, crisp detail and appreciable subtle refinement. Certain scenes appear better resolved than others although I suspect this is related to the photography. Contrast is dynamic without being overpowering and blacks are respectable in depth with discernible detail visible in low lighting and shadows. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent.

This is essentially a dialog driven film however there are aspects of the presentation that make effective use of the rear channels to expand the soundstage. Dialogue is crystal clear with discerning vocal description and refined texture. The mix relies heavily upon the front three channels. Separation, imaging and directional spacing are excellent as the mix of dialogue, music and recorded sounds are clearly articulated. The LFE channel is used primarily for subtle impact and for upper bass frequencies associated with the film’s music.

Bonus Features:

  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • A Dog’s Sequel
  • Everyone’s Best Friend
  • Working with Dogs
  • A Healing Journey
  • Scoring Journey
  • Feature Commentary with Director Gail Mancuso
  • DVD
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Journey is the sequel to 2017’s A Dog’s Purpose and is a fairly entertaining drama that doesn’t quite rise to the level of heartwarming charm found in the first film. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring solid technical merits, mated with a solid supplemental package that offers insights from the cast/crew. A Dog’s Journey is worth checking out especially for those that enjoyed its predecessor.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems