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The Dictator - Blu-ray Review

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The Dictator - Movie Review

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3 stars

No, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has not flipped his lid.  The real-life pranks and antics he scored big laughs with in Borat and Bruno have been replaced with actors, but the dark and scathing commentary still underscores his latest, The Dictator.  Cohen still rules the black comedy market, but – this time out – he’s incorporated a bit more beardless silliness in the roll of the dice and lands his game piece on the tedious square at times.  Don’t worry.  The Dictator is still a funny movie and when Baron Cohen is on-target his aim is pretty sharp.

The Dictator follows power-hungry and politically incorrect Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen (Baron Cohen) as he traverses the urban jungle that is New York City.  He gets lost, falls in love, and shaves.  A dictator gets overthrown thanks to a conniving Uncle (Ben Kingsley) and replaced by an illiterate man who looks exactly like him (Baron Cohen, too) and a health food nut (an unrecognizable and extremely funny Anna Faris) tries to re-educate his mistaken and often bizarrely comical ways as it relates to tourism and, ironically enough, torture.

Aladeen, used to fixing athletic events and sleeping with famous women, gets completely stripped – pun intended – of his nuclear stockpiling identity and misuses his assumed power in daily situations throughout the city.  A fish-out-of-water scenario that gets a bit searing with its use of political irony and physical comedy.  Lanky limbs and priceless parody take center stage in The Dictator. No staging, just rehearsing.

Written by Baron Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer, but directed under the improvisational brilliance of Larry Charles, the collaboration - or meeting of the minds - falls somewhere closer to Borat in tone and Bruno in silliness, but – because it is a straight-forward non-gimmicky comedy – is unlike both films.  There is no reality; it’s all staged commentary.  Equal parts innocent and guilty, Cohen and his collaborators satirize, expose, and ridicule politics and human nature…without the natural surprise of unpolished performances.

Through it all, Baron Cohen doesn’t shy away from the full-frontal and flaccidically (new word, I know) outrageous moments.  Sure, the oomph is reduced because everything is planned, but take the following three examples for a blood-pressure test.  The Dictator presents us with (1) a video game based on the massacre of athletes, (2) a man’s head is used as a hand puppet, and (3) a cellphone gets lost in the womb of a woman in labor.  Decide for yourself.

Yes, The Dictator is outrageous.  Yes, it’s tasteless.  But, even more than that, it is balls-to-the-wall hysterical and The Dictator, while not consistent, produces some of the most gut-rattling laughs ever heard in theatres.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Dictator - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for strong crude and sexual content, brief male nudity, language and some violent images.
Runtime:
83 mins.
Director
: Larry Charles
Writer
: Sacha Baron Cohen (screenplay), Alec Berg
Cast:
Sacha Baron Cohen; John C. Reilly; Sayed Badreya; Michele Berg; Aasif Mandvi; Rocky Citron
Genre
: Comedy
Tagline:
The Dictator
Memorable Movie Quote: "Is there any way you could lend me some money? Maybe... 20 million dollars? "
Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
www.republicofwadiya.com
Release Date: May 16, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 21, 2012

Synopsis: Supreme Leader Shabazz Aladeen gave a great gift to the world when he decided to be born. He was seventh son of the glorious Wadiyan President-For-Life Omar Aladeen. His mother was an Air France stewardess who tragically died of an oxygen underdose shortly after Aladeen’s birth in 1982 – this fact means he is now 30 years old. Any photos you may have seen of Aladeen as a child in the mid-70s, including a great one of him at the premiere of Saturday Night Fever, were doctored by the corrupt Zionist Western media.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Dictator - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

2 stars



Blu-ray Experience
2.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - August 21, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs:
0GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy
Playback: Region A reviewed

Presented by Paramount, the 1080p AVC-encoded transfer framed at 2.40:1 looks a tad unremarkable. The digital cinematography by Lawrence Sher looks simply okay throughout, though clarity and detail are never that strong. The images aren’t too flat but they do leave a lot to be desired. The resulting image isn’t really film-like.  Harsh contrasts spoil the picture. The 20 minutes of extra scenes wasn’t color-timed very carefully because the additional footage doesn’t match the theatrical footage and it’s beyond obvious. Colors pop inconsistently, with reds and greens being the most defined.  Overall, it’s a bit of a HD disappointment. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is also passable for a dialogue-driven comedy with surround activity limited to crowds. The mostly thin sound results from a frequent lack of bass activity.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Just like the recycled jokes and overall flatness of the movie, the supplemental material is a tad disappointing, too.  There aren’t many special features, but the main one is a selection of 33 minutes of deleted and extended scenes. Some of these are included in the unrated cut of the film. Most of the scenes were cut for good reason, but a few are pretty funny. The music video for "Your Money is on the Dresser" and an extended version of the Larry King interview are the only other features.

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (34 min)
  • Music Video (2 min)
  • Larry King Interview (3 min)
  • DVD Copy
  • UV Digital Copy

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