June 10, 2023

Bluray Review – Lords of Dogtown (2005)



Stacey Peralta‘s documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys” served as the springboard for “Lords of Dogtown,” a fictionalized account of extreme skateboarding’s birth. Poor teenagers from Dogtown, an area of Venice Beach, CA, emerged from relative obscurity to become superstars and make skateboarding into a true counterculture.

I’ll be up-front and say that while I found Lords of Dogtown to be reasonably entertaining, I don’t think it offers anything that Dogtown and Z-Boys doesn’t also offer more effectively. It seemed like this story of the Z-Boys really needed more dialog. Most of the film is them skateboarding, then pissing someone off, breaking car windows and then running off. This film did delve into their careers as professional skateboarders but did it in a lagging 107 minute running time, when this story could have been told in 80.

One of the things that Lords of Dogtown does well is to capture the squalor of the boys’ lives in Venice. Except for Stacy, who is mocked for being so “straight” as to actually have a job, most of the boys embrace a dead-end life that involves surfing, skating, and hanging around the Zephyr shop with the alcoholic Skip. With money and sponsorships comes attention from manipulative adult businessmen, as well as an introduction to drugs beyond the occasional joint. The film ends on a somewhat bittersweet note. For some of the Z-Boys, the Zephyr team was a step up and out of the ghetto, but for others, it was an all-too-brief moment of glory that slipped between their fingers.

Brilliantly directed by Catherine Hardwicke, she has a real passion for the subject and puts a lot of faith in her cast and crew, she is not pretentious in any way. I just wish she would go back to directing films like this and Thirteen and not complete tosses like Twilight and Red Riding Hood.

The disc boasts a decent 1080p presentation of the unrated version of the film. The grain does seem to spike at times, usually in indoor scenes but the transfer is indicative of the way and the time it was filmed. Unfortunately, we do lose a commentary from the US DVD but we still get one with Catherine Hardwicke, Emile Hirsch, Victor Razuk and John Robinson. It’s a fun and informative track, taking in how they filmed it, locations but also personal recollections of filming, casting etc. Another fairly substantial feature is the section of deleted and extended scenes, which gives us about 19 minutes of new or extended footage spread across nine different scenes. The last substantial special feature is a set of short featurettes that, taken together, runs about 20 minutes: we get pieces on various topics such as bails and spills, ratings-related choices, the skateboarding bulldog, the making of the Pacific Ocean Pier set, and so on. We also lose the Dogtown Cameos featurette that shows the different cameos that litter the film from skaters and actors which is very unfortunate cos I would have loved to see it. Still, it’s a very good and varied supply of special features.

Peter Fletcher

Drama, Sports | USA, 2005 | 15 | Eureka Entertainment | 5th December 2016 (UK) | Dir.Catherine Hardwicke | Heath Ledger, Johnny Knoxville, Emile Hirsch, Rebecca De Mornay |Buy:  Dual Format

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