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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » A Boy and His Dog
A Boy and His Dog
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Review by Chris Hughes | posted January 4, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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Features: Widescreen Letterboxed - 2.35:1, English (Dolby Digital 2.0), Commentary by director L.Q. Jones, cinematographer John Arthur Morrill and film critic Charles Champlin, Theatrical trailers.

The Movie:
Since its release in 1975, L.Q. Jones' A Boy and His Dog has become one of the quintessential midnight movies, ranking with such established 'classics' as Dark Star, Death Race 2000 and Barbarella. This faithful adaptation of Harlan Ellison's novel by the same name presents a dark post-apocalyptic world inhabited by barbarians above ground and a Stepford-like totalitarian society below. Our hero Vic (Don Johnson in an early staring role) and his telepathic dog must wind their way through various adventures as they struggle to survive. A Boy and His Dog was an instant cult classic and the direct inspiration for George Miller's Road Warrior series.

The Picture:
This transfer is the same one used for the Lumivision laser disc, presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Given the fact that A Boy and His Dog was previously available only in pan and scan VHS the widescreen transfer is a revelation. A Boy and His Dog makes extensive use of the widescreen format and simply doesn't translate well to full screen 4:3. Unfortunately Lumivision/Slingshot weren't able to obtain a reference quality print. Damage to the film elements is apparent throughout including dust, scratches and bad splices. These problems are persistent though not overly distracting. The transfer itself is very middle of the road with acceptable black level/shadow detail and clear, if somewhat muted, colors.

The Sound:
A Boy and His Dog features a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. The film's original sound track had a fairly limited dynamic range so the DVD won't give your home theater much of a workout. The sound is nicely mixed though and is free from distortion, pops and hiss.

The Extras:
A Boy and His Dog is labeled 'Special Collector's Edition' but the actual extras are few and far between. The main supplemental feature is a screen specific audio commentary with director L.Q. Jones, cinematographer John Arthur Morrill and film critic Charles Champlin. The commentary is packed with interesting tidbits including the ins and outs of making a low budget SF film, the casting and motivation of the principles, the midnight movie phenomenon and more. L.Q. Jones has a homespun and inviting demeanor but slips too often into self-congratulatory mode. In addition, he fawns over the dog's performance to the point that one wonders if he's actually taking covert jabs at Don Johnson. The only other extras are the original theatrical trailer and a re-release trailer from the 80s, both heavily damaged but interesting in that they show the bizarre way in which this film was marketed. It should be noted that the Lumivision/Slingshot DVD case states that the disc includes an extensive booklet of liner notes by film historian Robert Heincein and author Harlan Ellison but this printed content is nowhere to be found.

Conclusion:
I remember watching A Boy and His Dog in my teens at the local midnight movie venue so this film has very positive connotations for me. The DVD could have been better but will find a welcome home in my collection none the less. If you're a Harlan Ellison fan this disc is a must-have. If your tastes tend toward the Road Warrior films and their ilk you'll surely enjoy A Boy and His Dog. All others should rent the movie before buying.
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