Alpha Dog appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A mix of good and bad, the transfer seemed more erratic than expected.
The first third or so of the movie looked the worst. Those segments suffered from more than a smidgen of softness, partially due to some notable edge enhancement. Colors appeared moderately flat. Blacks were inky at times, and shadows tended to be heavy.
That last tendency continued through the rest of the movie, as low-light shots remained awfully dark. This issue created by far the biggest distraction and was the main problem with the image. Otherwise the transfer showed definite improvements. Sharpness became more concise, though I still saw some edge enhancement. Colors looked brighter and better developed, while blacks seemed tighter. No parts of the flick suffered from source flaws. The highs and lows left this as a “C+“ transfer.
While the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Alpha Dog was more consistent, it didn’t present any particular highs. The soundfield mostly stayed with general ambience. Elements popped up in the appropriate spots, and they blended together well. The surrounds added a good sense of environment as well. Nothing here stood out as especially memorable or impressive, but the pieces went together in a positive manner.
Audio quality also seemed good. Music was lively and dynamic, with concise highs and rich lows. Speech appeared crisp and warm, and I noticed no edginess or other issues. Effects also came across as clean and accurate. Overall, the mix satisfied.
Very few extras appear here. A featurette called A Cautionary Tale: The Making of Alpha Dog runs 11 minutes and 29 seconds. It presents a mix of movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from writer/director Nick Cassavetes, executive producer Butch Kaplan, and actors Shawn Hatosy, Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone, Ben Foster, Anton Yelchin and Emile Hirsch. “Tale” looks at the movie’s story and themes, casting and performances, Cassavetes’ effect on the set and actor training.
While promotional in nature, “Tale” offers a bit more depth than usual. It deals with the movie’s subtext in a moderate way and gives us some insights dealing with the creative side of the production. Though it never becomes a particularly distinctive piece, it’s worth a look.
A Witness Timeline allows us to read statements by the witnesses who saw the movie’s kidnapping. We can also jump to the corresponding film scenes. This offers a few interesting notes but nothing special.
A few Previews open the disc. We find ads for Breach, Children of Men, Hot Fuzz, Smokin’ Aces, The Hitcher and HD-DVD. No trailer for Alpha Dog appears on the disc.
An uncommonly deep and affecting drama, Alpha Dog examines what happens when kids get caught up in lives without boundaries. It presents a rich tale that doesn’t suffer from the usual moralizing, and it works well due to its subtlety. The DVD offers good audio but comes with erratic visuals and only minor extras. I like the movie enough to recommend a rental, but this release disappoints as a DVD.