Snow Dogs (2002)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 7-Apr-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Going To The Dogs
Featurette-Chillin' With The Actors
Featurette-Tolketna On Ice
Game-Ted's Arctic Challenge
Audio Commentary-Brian Levant (Director) & Jordan Kerner (Producer)
Deleted Scenes-9
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 95:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:08) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Brian Levant
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.
James Coburn
Nichelle Nichols
M. Emmet Walsh
Joanna Bacalso
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $36.95 Music John Debney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Portuguese
Spanish Audio Commentary
Spanish Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is a standard Disney film made pretty much to the standard formula that they use for these films. Some people will not like this film for that and a variety of other reasons. Having said that, I personally really enjoyed this film. Yes, it is a standard feel good, happy ending film but this is exactly what it is meant to be. I don't see the problem with this type of film - what is the matter with feeling good? As long as the film is well made and acted, and this one is, then simply sit back, relax and let the story take you on a little journey to a place where everything comes out OK.

    We are treated to two fine performances by both Cuba Gooding, Jr. and James Coburn and good performances from Joanna Bacalso and Nichelle Nichols. It is a real shame that along with the majority of the cast of Star Trek Nichelle Nichols was typecast so severely, as she does a really great job in this film.

    Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays a dentist, Dr Ted Brooks, whose practice is in Miami. He is a very successful dentist that is carrying on the family tradition. Something comes up and next thing he knows he is off to Alaska. On arrival in a very small town nestled amongst the mountains he discovers that he has inherited seven fine huskies and a border collie. Completely out of his depth and struggling to come to terms with a recent series of emotional shocks he decides to stay around for a while and learn to mush. Unfortunately, the dogs are far smarter than he is and things quickly go awry. In amongst some fine physical comedy Dr Ted learns a little about life, meets a girl and of course mushes off into the sunset for a very happy ending.

    I can't say much more than that as the first twist comes less than 5 minutes into the film and I don't want to spoil anything. The story revolves around three main characters; Dr Ted, Thunder Jack (James Coburn) and the dogs. They are supported by several further characters; Barb (Joanna Bacalso) is the tough but very lovely local bar owner, Mum (Nichelle Nichols), and George Murphy (M. Emmet Walsh) the local lawyer, pilot and JP.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     This is a slightly disappointing transfer. For some reason they decided not to use all the space available on an RSDL disc but come in quite a bit short at about 5.2Gb (including extras). This has left the main feature with a average bitrate of only 6Mbps and a quite high compression ratio. The main effect of all this is a softness to the transfer, particularly on moving objects.

    The transfer is presented at 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced.

    As mentioned, sharpness is down a little. While relatively still objects and the foreground are quite good, moving objects and the background can be a bit lacking in detail. At 10:51 a light plane is landing and then spinning around. While spinning, some of the finer detail just disappears. Another example of motion blur is at 34:29. Shadow detail is excellent and there is no low level noise.

    While there is lots of white in this film there are also some very nice bright colours with good saturation and no chroma noise. Often this is the clothing, and parkas that the characters are wearing to stay warm.

    There are no obvious signs of macroblocking or other MPEG artefacts. There is some edge enhancement, such as on the left side of the clothing at 17:16. There is no aliasing and film artefacts are very rare with little or no grain present. There are a couple of black marks that stand out only because they are against a uniform grey background at 34:26.

    I don't like the font that the English subtitles came up in. The fine lines on the top and bottom of the letters tended to strobe a bit on my projector. Other than that, they are easy to read and reasonably accurate to the on-screen dialogue.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 68:08. I have seen better but I have also seen worse. It is on a scene change but the pause on the last frame of the previous scene and the break in the music makes it quite noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     There are three audio tracks on this disc; English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and an English Audio Commentary presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    There are no problems with the dialogue quality nor with the audio sync.

    The music works very well with the film and sets the mood for each scene as required. Like the film it does set out to manipulate the emotions, but it is all in a good cause.

    The surrounds gave the music a nice expansive soundscape for the music and also helped out with lots of ambience and some nice panned rear effects.

    The subwoofer supported the movie quite well and while there were no earth-shattering moments it would have been sorely missed.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    A very nice animated menu that is a composite of images and action from the film, presented at 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced. The background is the log cabin from the film. The snow is falling and Dr Ted is attempting to mush back and forth across the screen. There is also a nice little touch in the window of the log cabin. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1.

Featurette: Going to the dogs. (12:14)

    An enjoyable look at the search for the dogs that were used in the film followed by an introduction to the dogs chosen. We meet many of the people involved in training the dogs and then listen to the actors talk about their experiences with the dogs and the experience of mushing. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette: Chillin' with the characters. (6:01)

    The actors, producer and director talk about the movie and their characters. Talking heads intercut with footage of the filming of the movie. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Featurette: Tolketna on ice. (3:56)

    A quick look at the little town that was built for the film along with some of the other very cold locations that were used in the film. Again a mixture of interview footage and on location footage. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Game: Ted's Arctic Challenge.

    After a live footage introduction you are placed in the driver's seat of a snowmobile. The object is to steer your snowmobile around a series of obstacles using the remote. The image on screen is computer generated. I have no idea how this game is meant to work as I could not steer or manage the sled in any fashion. You may have better luck than I did but I found it very frustrating.

Audio Commentary: Brian Levant (Director) and Jordan Kerner (Producer)

    This is an OK commentary. There is no real depth here and you are not going to learn anything about filmmaking but there are some interesting titbits. At least there are no big periods of silence. One thing that seemed to be constantly mentioned is that many of the actors did their own stunts.

Deleted Scenes

    There are four deleted scenes included: Show me the mushing (1:15), Ted offers Jack a deal (2:15), You're looking much whiter (0:14) and New caps (0:15). All are presented letterboxed and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Extended Scenes.

    There are five of these: Girls at the beach (2:17), Rush Hour (0:36), How about a big hug for your daddy (1:42), Understanding Lucy (4:22), Open Wide (0:40). Again all are presented letterboxed and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    While the English seem to have the identical release to our disc, the Americans seem to have drawn the short straw.

    The R1 version of this disc misses out on:

    The R4 version of this disc misses out on:

    I am calling this a win to R4 because while DTS is slightly better than Dolby Digital in some situations, I could not abide having a panned and scanned transfer of this film. The scenery is integral to the film and to lose a fair proportion of it would be a crime.

Summary

    I was really surprised to hear my 16 year old son say that he liked this film. I did not think it would be appreciated by late teenagers, but who knows the mind of a teenager? I really enjoyed this film. The story is well told and the acting is really very good. A very nice film that would appear the whole family can sit down and enjoy.

    The video is good.

    The audio is surprisingly good for a comedy.

    The extras nicely round out a very nice disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Friday, February 07, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Gavin T

Comments (Add) NONE