The Dictator (Blu-ray)

August 17, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I can’t help but chuckle, really, as I sit down and write this review of The Dictator.  Those familiar with the work of Sacha Baron Cohen’s work in previous film roles like Borat or Bruno will have an idea as to what to expect with this latest effort and for those that don’t know his unique comic…style; well you’re in for a treat (be it good or bad is to be determined).  Sacha Baron Cohen has always been at the heart of controversy and that’s the way he likes it.  He’s always pushed the envelope as far as humor goes and that’s part of what’s made him so successful.  His characters to date emerged out of his short-lived television show Da Ali G Show, which aired on HBO about a decade ago.  Cohen has no shame when it comes to comedy. He’ll make fun of nearly any religion (he’s Jewish, the source of many of his jokes), nationality or sexual orientation.  Clearly nothing is off-limits and again, that’s what makes him so entertaining to watch.  While The Dictator didn’t ignite the box office, I still found it funny and entertaining so let’s see what to expect in regard to the plot.

Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is the unquestioned ruler of his land, Wadiya.  He’s got more money than he knows what to do with, can have anyone executed whenever he wants and has had his way with many a Hollywood celebrity (both male and female).  Yes, life is good for Aladeen, but all good things must come to an end.  The United Nations has summoned Aladeen when the weapon inspectors aren’t allowed to determine whether his supply of uranium is to be used for research or nuclear weapons.  Aladeen seizes this opportunity to use this to his advantage, but not before a loyal cohort tries to have him assassinated.  Finding himself desolate and homeless, Aladeen finds comfort in the arms of Zoey (Anna Faris), an organic grocery store owner.  Unbeknowest to the world, Aladeen has been replaced by a dummy (in every sense of the word) who has a different agenda.  Will Aladeen be able to get back his rightful throne, find love with Zoey and rule the world…or not?

What makes all of Cohen’s films enjoyable is the fact that they simply perpetuate every sterotype out there.  Would two tourists from the Midwest think that two Middle Eastern men talking about Bin Laden are automatically terrorists?  Are all female organic grocery store owners automatically lesbians?  And so on.  What makes Cohen so likeable is the fact that he’s not afraid to make fun of anyone, including himself.  And he’s got real talent, too!  He lent his voice to last year’s critically-acclaimed Hugo as well as the most recent installment in the Madagascar series.  While The Dictator didn’t do well commercially, odds are that it’ll find some newfound support on the home video format.  For me, I still prefer Borat, but put it above Bruno simply because it wasn’t quite as disgusting.  There are a number of cameos in the film too, so keep your eyes peeled.  And don’t take it too seriously, it’s better that way – trust me.

Video: How does it look?

The Dictator comes to Blu-ray sporting a nice-looking 2.40:1 AVC HD image.  As we might expect from a new to Blu-ray film, colors are bold and bright, detail is razor sharp and black levels are constant and strong.  Yes, there’s really not much “wrong” with the film, though a few of the wider shots seem to be a bit on the soft side.  There are plenty of shots of New York City and if you need an example of detail, there’s one too many shots of Anna Faris’ armpit hair.  I’ll say no more.  Paramount has done a fine job with this offering and I doubt many will find much to complain about in regard to the video quality.

Audio: How does it sound?

The same can be said for the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack – it’s a solid effort.  The majority of the movie I found myself trying to decipher what Cohen’s character was really saying, though the actual audio was very crisp and well-defined.  There are number of popular songs that play throughout, though they’re the Middle Eastern equivalent of the songs we know.  I really can’t explain it more than that.  There are a few action sequences that engage the surrounds, though the entire film is best suited as a comedy and as such, doesn’t really make too much use of all sound channels.  Again, I doubt anyone will be disappointed, though I wouldn’t expect anything too robust.

Supplements: What are the extras?

In addition to the film containing both the theatrical and unrated cuts, we also find a music video, several deleted and extended scenes (most of which are included in the unrated cut of the movie) as well as the full interview with Larry King as seen in the film.  I can only imagine how entertaining a commentary would be (with Cohen in character, no less) but alas it wasn’t meant to be. There’s also a DVD of the film as well as an Ultraviolet copy.

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