Never Die Alone appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Despite a few small concerns, the image mostly looked solid.
Sharpness usually appeared crisp and detailed. Occasional wider shots demonstrated some light softness, but not anything extreme. Otherwise, the movie remained distinctive and clear. Moiré effects and jagged edges showed no concerns, but some mild edge enhancement did mar the presentation at times. Print flaws were essentially non-existent. The movie showed grain at times that seemed intentional, but that was it.
Alone went for a heavily stylized palette, which meant that colors varied a lot. Some scenes seemed blue, others went for green, and some became brown. The LA shots delivered a dense gold tone. Nonetheless, they came across as accurate and distinct within those parameters. The hues rarely looked natural, but they weren’t supposed to generate that appearance, so I was satisfied with the tints found during much of the movie. Black levels seemed to be fairly deep and rich, though a few shots looked a bit murky. In addition, shadow detail was acceptably clear and appropriately opaque, but occasional bits seemed somewhat dense. Ultimately, the image seemed satisfying.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Never Die Alone was similarly decent but not spectacular. Though somewhat subdued, the mix served the story acceptably well. The soundfield emphasized the front channels. Music presented good stereo imaging, and effects popped up from the sides well enough to create a decent sense of environment. Not a lot happened, though. Occasionally elements moved from side to side, but mostly the track simply showed general ambience. The surrounds mostly just reinforced the front speakers and added almost little unique audio.
The quality of the sound was fairly good. Speech came across as natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Effects seemed acceptably accurate and clean. Music was rich and clear, and the occasional rap songs demonstrated nice range. Bass seemed tight and firm, with good thump. Nothing about the audio of Alone stood out, but it worked fine for this flick.
A smattering of extras round out the DVD. We get an audio commentary from director Ernest Dickerson, screenwriter James Gibson, and actor DMX, all of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific chat. The piece starts on an unusual note, as DMX performs a rap that also plays over the end credits. It’s not a good number, and matters degenerate from there.
Much of the blame falls on DMX. He doesn’t appear to understand why he’s there, and he often goes onto unrelated tangents while the others speak. He seems surprisingly inarticulate, and he’s so distracted that he actually makes cell phone calls during the session!
Not that DMX ruins an otherwise good track, for the rest of the commentary seems very lackluster. Dickerson and Gibson occasionally toss out decent production notes like issues connected to the adaptation of the original story, deleted and altered sequences, pressures caused by a very short shooting schedule, and some acting notes. Unfortunately, much of the time we just hear praise for the film and all involved, and more than a few examples of dead air occur.
DMX departs about halfway through the movie, and matters improve somewhat from there. The commentary doesn’t soar when we only hear from Dickerson and Gibson, but they seem better focused on the film and offer more cogent details. These moments moderately redeem a previously miserable track, but it remains no better than lackluster as a whole.
Next we find a collection of 11 deleted scenes. Most of these offer small bits that pad out existing concepts, and the majority revolve around the Paul character. We see moments that precede his current introduction in the film and watch a little more development. Nothing substantial occurs, though, and the cuts seem worthwhile.
We can view these with or without commentary from Dickerson and Gibson. They give us some notes about the scenes and occasionally - maybe half the time - tell us why they got cut. Usually, this is because of time reasons, but some studio pressures also appear. The commentary offers some minor details but not much.
Next we find a featurette simply called The Making of Never Die Alone. It mixes movie clips, a few shots from the set, and sound bites. We hear from DMX, Dickerson, and actors Michael Ealy, and David Arquette. Entirely promotional, they reveal very little about the movie, and that leaves this as a superfluous program.
In the domain, we find promos for Kiss of the Dragon, The Transporter, The Young Master and Royal Warriors. More ads show up in Inside Look, an “exclusive insider’s look at upcoming projects from Fox”. This presents a featurette for Taxi, a Jimmy Fallon effort. We get a synopsis plus notes from actors Fallon and Queen Latifah. We also see that movie’s trailer in this very promotional piece.
A rambling and bland gangster flick, Never Die Alone suffers from many flaws. Key among them are a flat performance from its lead and a lack of coherence. The DVD presents fairly good picture and audio as well as a mediocre set of extras. Fans of street gangster flicks can do much better than this dud.