Worth A Look: 15.7%
Pretty Bad: 2.91%
Total Crap: 2.91%
6 reviews, 136 user ratings
by Brian McKay
You know, I see a fair amount of movies. Some I hate, some I love, some I am indifferent towards. But every once in a while, a movie will come along that just works for me on all the right levels, and turns me into that annoying specimen of humanity that I usually dread encountering the most -
The Fanboy.So excuse me as I wax ecstatic when I say THIS IS THE COOLEST FUCKING MOVIE SINCE EVIL DEAD 2. Based on what little I'd heard, I was expecting to like it. I wasn't expecting to SALIVATE over it.
"This Movie Rocks Harder Than Ron Jeremy's Bed during an 8.0 Quake"
So why is this movie so great? Well, it's not necessarily due to its originality. Every major plot element in this film has been done somewhere else in films like Evil Dead 2, Aliens, Night of the Living Dead, Southern Comfort, and about half a dozen others that I can think of off-hand. But if I may paraphrase a quote I once heard - steal one idea, you're a plagiarist. Steal them all, you're a fuckin' genius!
Whether you want to call it stealing (right down to a few lines of readily recognizable dialogue), or a homage (the spirit in which it was obviously intended), it's still one kick-ass viewing experience. Why? Because it's got all the little things that matter. You know, those little things that usually get overlooked when you have 80 million dollars to throw around on egomaniacal A-list stars, and bloated special effects. Things like great acting, great writing, and a very talented freshman director. I don't know what Neil Marshall's next endeavor will be, but after Dog Soldiers, I am SO on this guy's bandwagon.
Dog Soldiers begins with a squad of British soldiers on an unexpected "routine" training mission in the Scottish Highlands. Routine, that is, if the opposing squad in your exercise all end up slaughtered and huge wolf-like shapes stalking you through the trees can be considered "routine". Before all the carnage begins, however, we are introduced to the squad, and this is what makes the rest of the film so great - we actually like and care about these guys, and we recognize the role they each fill in the squad camaraderie. Witherspoon (Darren Morfitt) is the smart-ass. Joe (Chris Robson) is the guy with the attitude who's pissed-off because he's missing the big game. Cooper (Kevin McKidd) is the second-in-command who recently washed out of the Special Forces selection because he chose his principals over following orders. And at the head of the squad is Sergeant Wells, or "The Sarge" (Sean Pertwee, who is a fucking god in this role). Although Wells is a man who can crack jokes with his men (and tells one of the best campfire tales ever), he is obviously someone who means business and is ready to die for his team.
When they find the Special Forces team they are supposed to be playing war against, each of them slaughtered without getting off a shot, The Sarge quickly takes stock of the situation and deduces that they are up against some bad mojo. While retrieving all the weapons and hardware they can, they stumble across one survivor, Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham) - the guy who washed Cooper out of the Special Forces selection because he refused to shoot a dog. It's quite obvious that Ryan is a shady bastard, and knows more about what's going on than he's telling. But before they have time to properly interrogate him, they find themselves being chased by 8-foot tall werewolves. While bullets hurt them temporarily, they don't seem to slow them down for long.
Just when all would appear to be lost, they stumble upon a backwoods road, where they are picked up by the dead-sexy zoologist Megan (Emma Cleasby). Not only does she rescue them and drive them to a nearby farmhouse, she also provides the requisite attractive female character to counter-balance all of the testosterone. When they get to the farmhouse, they soon realize that the wolves have followed them there, surrounding them and disabling their vehicle. Now they're just four walls and a few clips of ammo away from being lycanthrope droppings. Let the carnage begin!
I can't remember the last time I was this caught up in a movie. The action sequences and suspenseful pacing are top-notch, made all the better by great acting and a slew of quote-worthy dialogue (why is it that the banter in Brit soldier movies is always just a little bit cooler?). Not since Evil Dead have the confines of a cabin looked so vast, yet so claustrophobic. The squaddies have just the right amount of bravado, while the werewolves seem to have a mischievous streak, preferring to play with their food before eating it. But what really makes this film great are the performers themselves. Mckidd and Cunningham are completely convincing, and Pewtree should get a fucking Oscar or some damn statuette from someone for his efforts here. I'm sure there are a few plot holes and inconsistencies in there somewhere, but I've watched it twice and haven't spotted them yet. Maybe I'll try to stop enjoying the thing so much on my next viewing and actually be analytical. But then, isn't a movie supposed to be so enthralling that you don't mind or notice the little flaws?
Carnage and Carnality
-Woman used in tug-o-war between boyfriend and werewolf (guess who wins?)
-sausage stuffing with krazy-glue surgery
-lots and lots of werewolf-shooting (and one scene where they shoot back!)
-Broadsword-enhanced lycanthrope limb lopping
-mail slot abuse
-Man vs. Werewolf heavyweight title fight with drop-kick assisted projectile incisor
-The gratuitous explosion of every structure in sight (well, all two of them)
-Emma Cleasby looks mighty fine when she strips down to a braless wifebeater.
Drive-In Triple Feature Not by the Hair of My Chinny-chin-chin or the 800 rounds a minute of my Assault Rifle Picks for Dog Soldiers:
Watch this movie. Then watch it again. Then watch the director's commentary. Then go watch The Howling.In the DVD "making of" featurette, Director Marshall says "I set out to make a soldier movie with werewolves, not a werewolf movie with soldiers," and that's an important distinction. It is the soldiers, and the bond between them, that makes this film stand out. It's not quite SAVING PRIVATE RYAN with werewolves . . . but it's pretty damn close.
link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6150&reviewer=258
originally posted: 11/19/02 12:45:33