Black Dynamite appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Due to some stylistic choices, this became a difficult transfer to rate objectively, but it satisfied.
Because Dynamite wanted to resemble a cheap 1970s flick, that meant some intentional flaws. At least I think they were intentional. Unlike something such as Death Proof, Dynamite didn’t abound with print defects. I saw the occasional speck, mark or blemish. I felt these were put there to age the flick, but it’s possible that wasn’t accurate. Whatever the case, the “defects” never dominated, and they actually suited the movie.
Colors tended toward a rather “Afrocentric palette”. The flick went with a golden brown tone and favored reds and other dark hues. These looked good within the constraints of the visual choices. Blacks were deep and firm, while shadows offered good clarity and delineation.
Sharpness was also positive. A few slightly soft shots appeared, but as with the source flaws, most of these instances seemed to be intentional; the movie wanted to look a bit off at times to live down to its low budget inspirations. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained absent. Overall, I felt pleased with this presentation.
In addition, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Dynamite worked nicely. In truth, I kind of wish it’d gone with a more restricted affair; a movie like this should be mono, and low-fi mono at that. Still, the soundscape worked for the film. Music showed nice stereo presence, and the variety of action sequences added zest to the picture. Gunfire, vehicles and other elements cropped up around the spectrum in a positive manner, and the elements fit together well.
Audio quality was satisfying. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music seemed vivid and full, and effects worked about the same. The various components displayed nice clarity and accuracy, and the mix packed good bass response when necessary. Nothing here really excelled, but the track seemed more than acceptable.
A decent collection of extras appears here. We open with an audio commentary from director/co-writer Scott Sanders and actors/co-writers Michael Jai White and Byron Minns. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at influences and inspirations, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, period details, and music.
While I thought the commentary might offer a fun look at the genre and what Dynamite did with it, instead it tends to be a pretty ordinary affair. We get some references to the flick’s allusions and learn a reasonable amount about the production, but the track doesn’t dig into the movie as well as I’d like. It’s a fairly average chat.
17 Deleted and Alternate Scenes fill a total of 25 minutes, 15 seconds. Most of these offer additional exposition and focus on the relationship between Congressman James and Rafelli. In that area, a little goes a long way, so none of the scenes would’ve added to the experience. Indeed, I suspect they would’ve slowed down the story, though it’s too bad one with some very nice woman in a pool had to get the boot.
Otherwise, most of the remaining clips tend to extend existing sequences. These provide minor additions without much to make them memorable. We do meet “Mahogany Black”, a deleted spy character; her presence is the most interesting bit here. I think the snippets are enjoyable to see, but I don’t believe any of them should’ve ended up in the final cut – well, except for that pool scene.
Three featurettes ensue. Lighting the Fuse goes for 22 minutes, 48 seconds and provides remarks from White, Sanders, Minns, editor/composer Adrian Younge, costume designer Ruth E. Carter, production designer Denise Pizzini, and actors Tommy Davidson, Buddy Lewis, and Salli Richardson-Whitfield. We learn about the flick’s origins and story/script development, inspirations and influences, cast, characters and performances, costumes, production design and period details, film stock, editing and music, and the movie’s tone.
Though it touches on a number of the same subjects, “Fuse” proves more satisfying than the commentary. It’s definitely a tighter look at the subject matter, and it gives us a higher level of details. It’s a good encapsulation of the various filmmaking issues.
The ‘70s: Back in Action lasts 14 minutes, 13 seconds and features notes from White, Sanders, Younge, Carter, Pizzini, Richardson-Whitfield, Davidson, Minns, and Lewis. “Action” gives us a closer look at the blaxploitation flicks and actors that inspired/influenced Dynamite as well as more about the filmmakers’ attempts to replicate these sources. Again, some of this repeats earlier info, but it digs into the topic in a more complete manner, so it’s satisfying.
Finally, The Comic-Con Experience runs 18 minutes, four seconds. Moderator Elvis Mitchell leads a panel that includes White, Sanders, Minns and Richardson-Whitfield. They discuss the project’s roots, story elements, cast, characters and performances, influences, and a few other production details. Expect a fair amount of redundant info here, but there’s still enough new material to make the panel worth a look.
A few ads open the disc. We get clips for The Boondocks Saints II: All Saints Day, Universal Soldier: Regeneration and H2. These also appear in the Trailers area along with promos for Moon, Kung Fu Hustle, Soul Power, Snatch, Breaking Bad, Zombieland and Michael Jackson’s This Is It. No trailer for Dynamite shows up here.
While it might seem redundant and pointless to parody a genre as ridiculous as blaxploitation, Black Dynamite nonetheless offers reasonable entertainment. It pokes affectionate fun at its predecessors and manages just enough laughs to keep us with it. The Blu-ray provides pretty positive picture and audio along with a fairly satisfying set of supplements.