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review added: 4/5/02



Bones
New Line Platinum Series - 2001 (2002) - New Line

review by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Bones: New Line Platinum Series

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A-/B+

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A-/A

Specs and Features

92 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:17:21, in chapter 15), Snapper case packaging, audio commentary by director Ernest Dickerson, Snoop Dogg and writer Adam Simon, 14 deleted/extended scenes, 2 original documentaries: Digging Up Bones and Urban Gothic: Bones and its Influences, theatrical trailer, 2 music videos, cast and crew filmographies, DVD-ROM features (including script-to-screen screenplay access and the original theatrical website), animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (19 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 EX, 2.0 and DTS 6.1 ES), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

"Bow wow wow, yippy yo, yippy yay, Doggy Dogg's definitely in the house…"

In Bones, Snoop Dogg takes on his first major headlining role as Jimmy Bones, an honest to goodness ghetto superstar. His duds and his ride may be pimped out, but he's no pimp. He's a financier of sorts and sees to it that drugs and gangs don't find their way into his neighborhood. When Bones is murdered by neighborhood thugs in a botched drug scam, he vows to eventually come back from the dead to have his vengeance on his murderers.

Flash forward 20 some years, and Bones' stomping grounds have been ravaged by crack cocaine. His old girlfriend Pearl (Pam Grier) still lives in the neighborhood and warns her daughter Cynthia (Bianca Lawson) to stay away from Bones' foreboding old mansion. Problem is, the new kids in town are turning it into a hip, swingin' new nightclub where all the fly honeys wanna hang out. The crazy little bastards also take a liking to the hounds of hell that reside within the castle-like home and begin to feed the ravenous canines. But these aren't your average everyday alley-dwelling dogs. You feed these babies, and you're slowly bringing the corpse of Jimmy Bones back to life. In one of the more stomach-turning effects sequences (which is highly reminiscent of Clive Barker's Hellraiser), we're treated to the sight of Bones' flesh, muscle and organs reintegrating around his decaying bones.

What follows, after a decent set-up, is standard gore horror fodder. Go easy on the rice dishes before a viewing of Bones, as you'll be treated many a scene involving maggots and other squiggly larvae that are sure to make you second-guess your dinner choice. Cinematographer turned director Ernest Dickerson throws in references to horror films of the past (including Nosferatu, the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Candyman and even his own Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight) and camerawork that's reminiscent of late 70's Euro-horror. It makes for some nice visuals, but the film suffers in other areas. The most apparent drawback is in the casting of Snoop Dogg. He was effective enough and even somewhat intimidating in Baby Boy, but he doesn't bring with him enough screen presence to allow you to get past his stilted approach to his dialogue. As a result, he's not all that frightening. In fact, with the exception of a few good "boo" type scares, the film as a whole isn't entirely scary or suspenseful. Like the Bava and Argento films it mimics, Bones' appeal is more visual than visceral, and doesn't leave a lasting impression.

As can be expected of the New Line Platinum Series, both the audio and video presentation are top-notch. The film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio is exhibited here in a clean transfer that showcases Dickerson and cinematographer Flavio Martinez Labiano's colorful camerawork. This is a new film, so there's nary a scratch to be found on the source print. Reds (particularly the hokey-looking fake blood) look especially bright and the dark night shots are impenetrable and sinister without seeming murky or overly shady. I did notice a scene or two that retained a fair amount of grain in them, but beyond this minor complaint, there is nothing objectionable in this otherwise excellent transfer.

Things are equally pleasing on the audio side. The 6.1 DTS ES track is the slightly stronger mix of the offerings here, and gets things going in the right direction with a booming .1 LFE track. You always run the risk of making the audio seem gimmicky or off-putting if you get too crazy with the directional effects, but that's not the case here. The effects in both the front and rear channels create a definite sense of space and are the highlight of an exceptionally strong mix. The dialogue track is always a sticking point with me, and they nail it here - it's clean, distinct and consistently discernible from the other elements of the sound mix. The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track is comparable to the DTS track, but takes it down just a notch and favors the music track in the rear channels. Its bass channel is just as strong as its counterpart and works to give the mix some needed depth. Either option should make your ears plenty happy.

You'll have oodles to choose from in the extras. Alright, that's an exaggeration, but there are some goodies here. The highlight for me were the two original documentaries, both of which run roughly 20 minutes in length. Digging up Bones details the production of Bones and spends a good deal of time on the film's extensive production design and visual effects. You'll also hear lots from Dickerson and writer Adam Simon, as well as star Pam Grier. They all discuss, quite literally, the destruction caused to the black community by the infiltration of narcotics. Unfortunately, this comes across more clearly here than it does in the film. And if you didn't get it in the film itself, the second featurette, Urban Gothic, will really show you that Dickerson is a studied fan not only of cinema at large, but of the horror genre. The short piece examines the influence that Italian horror cinema and classic gothic horror films had on the making of Bones. It's an effective and informative piece, though it will more than likely appeal to genre fans more than the casual viewer.

The audio commentary by Dickerson, Mr. Dogg and Simon has its moments of insight, but there are frequent pauses in the remarks, and Snoop rarely contributes anything of relevance or interest. For behind-the-scenes type information, I found the featurettes to be more helpful than this track. The 14 deleted and extended scenes are worth a peek, but their bark is louder than their bite. The good is that they are all anamorphically encoded and look almost as good as the film (with an occasional inferior quality camera angle here and there). That said, there's not a whole lot here that would have done the film any good. But I enjoyed the optional commentary by Dickerson more here than I did in the main feature. It's good to hear him discuss his craft on his own. Then there are two different videos for the same song - Dogg Named Snoop. It's a primer on the life of the D.O. double G., and you've got your choice of "standard" or "live" video. The features are rounded out with the theatrical trailer and assorted filmographies and text information, which is labeled here as a theatrical press kit.

The ROM features are typical New Line material. You can read through the film's script on its own, or watch it along with the feature in the script-to-screen browser. You'll also find a link to the film's website and a "hot spot" feature that'll direct you straight to an abundance of marketing/commercial-type material. This is a standard package of features for a Platinum Series disc, but as the old saying goes... if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Will you enjoy Bones? I haven't the slightest idea. There's gore a' plenty to suit the hardcore types, but the scares are scattered pretty thin. Though Snoop's a force to be reckoned with when he's got a microphone in hand, he's not so believable as a Freddy Krueger-type villain. One thing's for sure: this disc is a surefire bet if you do like the film. All in all, this disc sports a near perfect video/audio presentation and a good set of extras that makes it obvious why we love New Line. They can even shine up a not so perfect film to make for a stellar DVD.

Dan Kelly
dankelly@thedigitalbits.com




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