Lords Of Dogtown

Lords Of Dogtown (2005)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch, John Robinson, Victor Rasuk, Rebecca De Mornay, Johnny Knoxville
Extras: Audio Commentaries, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Music Video, Gag Reel

"Lords of Dogtown" is the film inspired by the true story of young skateboarding sensations, the Z Boys, as they took the sport to new heights during the mid 70's in Venice, California (a.k.a. "Dogtown").

As skateboarding begins to show promise as a lucrative sport, surfboard shop owner Skip (Heath Ledger), decides to back local young surfer/skateboarders, later known as the Z Boys; Jay (Emile Hirsch), Stacy (John Robinson) and Tony (Victor Rasuk) to compete under his shop's name of "Zephyr". Feeling that Skip is keeping the lion's share of the profits from their talents, one by one the Z Boys begin to accept offers that start to pour in from more successful skateboarding companies and leave the backing of Skip. Growing egos and a touch of greed eventually tears up the brotherhood of the Z Boys, with Tony seeking fame and fortune, along with the attentions of young women, Stacy accepts a deal to represent one of the largest skateboard manufacturers, which takes him on tours around the world. While Jay decides to stay closer to his roots, accepting smaller offers that only provide him with enough money to pay the rent, keeping himself and his down and out mother (Rebecca De Mornay) off of the streets. With each one of the Z Boys facing personal challenges through their individually chosen paths in life, eventually brings the group back together to face the illness of a childhood friend and in-turn reuniting their special bond.

Director Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) captures the essence of what life was really like for these young males during this time in their lives, bringing skater-turned-writer Stacy Peralta's script (based on his life) to the screen. Cleverly adding cameos from the original Z Boys, combined with some great performances and a solid script, help to make "Lords of Dogtown" a rather memorable experience.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment offers "Lords of Dogtown" in two separate DVD releases, either as a theatrical version or as an unrated-extended cut labeled "Unleashed". The anamorphic widescreen transfer was good, but given the documentary-style feel, including the choice of various colored lenses and intentional grainy film stock used during certain scenes, this won't be considered a mind-blowing exhibition, but does work for the overall stylish approach of the presented subject matter. Colors were nicely saturated during some scenes and then completely over or sometimes under saturated during others; again, this is intended for this presentation. Black levels were decent, displaying good depth and richness in reproduction. The overall transfer was clean and did not display any visible compression artifacts. "Lords of Dogtown" does manage to serve up some rather cool cinematography, like camera angles from under a moving skateboard to capturing the crushing waves of the California coastline.

The soundtrack is available in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that offered up a great sonic presentation. Bass levels were evenly balanced providing the dialogue with natural reproduction. All available channels, including surrounds, were utilized to deliver a well rounded sound mix.

Here is a rundown of the ton of special features, available on this DVD. First off, there is an optional introduction from director Catherine Hardwicke, two separate audio commentaries; one featuring Catherine Hardwicke and actors John Robinson, Victor Rasuk and Emile Hirsch, with the second commentary including input from the original Z Boys. Also included is a behind-the-scenes documentary simply titled "Making of Lords of Dogtown", "Dogtown Cameos" includes footage of the original Z Boys discussing their contribution to the film, a total of nine deleted or extended scenes, storyboard comparisons, gag reel and the music video "Nervous Breakdown" performed by Rise Against, with a selection of previews to complete the value added content.

If you have seen the award-winning documentary "Dogtown and Z Boys" and liked what you saw, then I can easily recommend seeing "Lords of Dogtown" as it's worth the ride!