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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Dope (Blu-ray)
Dope (Blu-ray)
Universal // R // October 13, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted October 17, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

It can be tough for kids these days who live outside the boundaries of labels put on them by kids in the neighborhood or high school. I cannot imagine how tough it would be for inner-city kids who live through those circumstances now. In Dope we get a bit of insight into it, along with a fascinating takeaway past the dynamic and appearance of its characters.

The film is written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa (Our Family Wedding), and set in Los Angeles. The center of the film are three friends; Malcolm (Shameik Moore, Joyful Noise) loves 1990s hip-hop, and has his hair cut to match the era, looking like a background extra in House Party. Diggy (Kiersey Clemons, Transparent) is a lesbian, and Jib (Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel) rounds out the group. They play in a punk band together, are outcast by those at the high school they attend, but they're comfortable with themselves and each other. The trio are able to get into a club that is hosting a birthday party for Dom (A$AP Rocky), a local drug dealer, but when gunfire is exchange, Malcolm, Diggy and Jib are thrown into a circumstance far outside their knowledge or comfort.

Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) is one of the producers of Dope, but he also has several moments of voiceover in the film, heavy early on as he sets the stage for Malcolm, Diggy and Jib, and the neighborhood they live in. We get the eccentric characters in the neighborhood, as Amin Joseph (The Gambler) is the bemuscled scary dude in Dope, picking up the reins of Debo's Tiny Lister in (Friday). Zoe Kravitz (Insurgent) is the love interest, like Nia Long was a couple of decades ago now, damn.

Each has their own strange adventure within the tapestry of their respective neighborhoods, and as the journeys continue, the soft-spoken protagonists of each film evolve through their respective life-changing experiences. Though where a film like Friday shows how a young person has their moment of defiance and one that may send ripples throughout the neighborhood that we don't see, Dope is a little different. The three kids in the film have been pushed around for quite some time and they stand up for themselves in different ways. They've been tested in school, or on the way home, riding through the streets that drug dealers inhabit. The things they go through over the course of the film are a new kind of test, one they get through with flying colors in part based on what they've put up with before we see them.

As Malcolm, Moore exhibits the pain (and in the film's story, the transformation) well, discussing his dream of Harvard and nothing and no one will get in the way of that dream. This culminates in a third act monologue which is also his application letter that was one of the more passionate speeches I've recently seen. In Malcolm, Moore invents a character of surprising depth and range, and serves as a breakout performance for the actor. In an ensemble of enjoyable performances, his was the most refreshing.

I was not completely sure of what to expect when I started watching Dope, and what little I did know I learned from peripheral opinion (and it came and went in my local Alamo in a flash). What I found after watching it was a movie that had as much power in its message as it did with the jokes. It should be seen by a lot of people so you can experience the fun and the seriousness for yourself.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

Universal presents Dope with an AVC-encoded 2.40:1 widescreen transfer that looks excellent. Flesh tones appear natural and close shots possess an excellent amount of image detail, and the foreground and background both have superb detail in them, be it clothing fabrics or facial hair. Image banding or noise is minimal if noticeable at all, and DNR isn't evident during viewing. Universal continues to do marvelous work with their Blu-rays and this is no exception.

The Sound:

DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless surround is solid listening material. Pharrell Williams was one of the executive producers on the film and contributed to the music in it, and it shows with the music of Oreo. But the Dope soundtrack includes loads of 90s' rap in it and it all sounds great. The music sequences in clubs sound just as good, and keeps the subwoofer active consistently more than any recent film I've thrown onto my Blu-ray player. Quieter moments sound good and possess a good dynamic range in them as well. Really fun to listen to all around.

Extras:

Not much. "Dope is Different" (3:21) is a making-of on the film with interviews by the cast and crew, as they share their thoughts on the character and story. "Dope Music" (3:29) covers Williams' contribution to the soundtrack and the process therein. A standard definition disc and a

Final Thoughts:

Dope is a pleasant movie with a message that is fairly well hidden from the viewer until the end. When it is delivered, it packs a wallop that makes its protagonist even more empathetic. Set against a bumping soundtrack and a great transfer, the only thing holding it back from superstardom are a package of bonus materials that last longer than it would take to boil an egg. I wouldn't buy it because I'm a collector geek of sorts, but at least it is a movie worth checking out regardless of age and/or demographic.

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