Worth A Look: 15.7%
Pretty Bad: 2.91%
Total Crap: 2.91%
6 reviews, 136 user ratings
by MP Bartley
Being a Limey, living in Britain is sometimes a pain. All the great films get released in USA first. 'Oceans 11', 'Black Hawk Down', 'Signs', 'Ali', 'Road To Perdition', the list goes on and on. By the time they're released over here there's always the slight feeling of dissapointment that I'm not discovering them at the same time as everyone else. But not with this one. 'Dog Soldiers' was released in Britain back before the World Cup even kicked off. And now it's my pleasure that the rest of the world can sample the delights of the kick-ass, balls out fun that is 'Dog Soldiers'.'Dog Soldiers' begins with Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd) on training with Special Ops deep in a forest at midnight. When he passes the test Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham) orders him to shoot a dog. Cooper refuses and is kicked out of Special Ops.
"This one's got BITE!"
Fast forward a few months and Cooper is back in the regulation army, this time in the Scottish highlands under Seargeant Wells (Sean Pertwee). They're not there long however before they come under attack from something they're not quite expecting.
Beating a hasty retreat they bump into the severely injured Ryan who is also on manouveres and local lass Megan (Emma Cleasby) and retreat to her cottage where they are besieged by said werewolves...
It's a simple premise that has been done countless times before and the film mixs and matches elements from 'Aliens', 'The Howling', 'An American Werewolf In London', 'The Thing', 'Evil Dead' and countless others. What's amazing then, is that for a film that plunders from the past so mercilessly is that it feels so fresh and invigorating. It does so because writer/director Neil Marshall gets three things right:
1) It's scary
2) It's exciting
3) It's funny
Getting one or two of those elements to both work in a film is difficult enough, but all three? Neil Marshall deserves a firm handshake and a $20 million budget. It's scary because he keeps the werewolves in the shadows, giving us only glimpses and gory flashes of their handiwork. And it is gory. 'Blade 2' has nothing on this.
It's exciting because this isn't your typical army-outfit-against-invaders movie. Where most movies like this give the soldiers a seemingly inexhaustible supply of bullets, grenades and bombs, this doesn't. Every bullet is accounted for, making every counter attack vital as their supplies diminish leaving them with only household items to defend themselves with by the end.
And it's funny because Marshall acknowledges how ridiculous the situation is and injects a vein of black humour to stop it getting too po-faced. Witness one soldier having his entrails ripped out and then chewed on like a sausage by Megan's dog. Or the scene where they try and super-glue them back in. Honestly. It's so insane it borders on genius. These three elements all combine to give one of the most relentlessly entertaining, Saturday night thrill machines, I've seen in a long time.
Marshall also knows how to work with his miniscule budget. He keeps the werewolves in shadows because in truth constantly revealing them would show up the small budget. Keeping them in shadows makes them more effective and makes their few appearances even more shocking, right down to the frantically shot, edge of your seat climax.
'Dog Soldiers' has a slyness to it too. Events that even in a werewolf movie seem stupid, take on a new meaning towards the end that make the audience go "Ah, NOW I see what's going on..."
It's this respect for the audience that makes us respect Marshall's effort even more.
And the cast throw themselves in with as much relish for the material, as Marshall has. McKidd is a solid, gritty leading man that refuses to be beaten by a pack of dogs in a performance that brings to mind Kurt Russell in 'The Thing'. Pertwee is also excellent as the cockney geezer Seargeant. The rest of the cast fill their small, yet distinctive, roles ably. It's always a great sign when you honestly regret some of the characters dying. You know the feeling when Bill Paxton gets chomped in 'Aliens'? You get this several times in 'Dog Soldiers'.Yes, it drags at times with some exposition in the cottage, and if you look closely you can probably see mothballs on some of the werewolves. But when you see how the director and cast have such an abiding passion for the film you can't help but get dragged along yourself. It's got better action than 'xXx'. It's got more horror than 'Red Dragon'. It's funnier than 'The Tuxedo'. It's werewolves versus soldiers. It could remain a cult movie ever, but it deserves more than that. It deserves to be seen and loved by everyone.
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originally posted: 11/03/02 00:29:18