Man’s Best Friend

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Lori Tanner (Ally Sheedy) is a journalist, one always on the lookout for the story that could give her a break in the business. She thinks her break could be uncovered at a genetics laboratory, a place where cutting edge, mysterious research takes place. So she breaks into the lab and stumbles upon animals being used for experiments, a discovery she believes will be the story she has been looking to break. One animal at the lab is a massive canine, a dog obviously intended to serve as a guard dog, if it wasn’t cooped up at the lab. Tanner takes the dog with her, as she wants to free it from the lab’s experiments, but little does she know what kind of work has been done with this dog, known as Max. Max has been enhanced by genetic engineering, so that his hearing, vision, strength, and intelligence are at supreme levels. This means as a guard dog, he has a true edge over his prey, those who seek to break into the places he patrols. But the experiments have done more than increase those attributes, as Max also experiences an enhanced killer instinct, which means he can be vicious beyond all means. A special kind of neuropathic drug is used to keep his rage suppressed, but since he is out of the lab, those drugs are unavailable. Tanner has her story, but will she live to tell it to anyone?

I’ve seen my fair share of movies about animals on the attack, from dogs to cats to crocodiles to sharks to frogs. In other words, I’ve seen it all before and its hard for movies in this genre to surprise me in the least. You never expect a movie about a killer dog to be a classic however, so we don’t demand complex plot movements and well crafted characters, we just want suspense, cheap scares, and one mean mongrel, right? So is Man’s Best Friend a fun jaunt into the world of homicidal pets or just a lame excuse for a canine killer on the loose flick? As it turns out, the film has a more serious tone at times than expected, but all in all, Man’s Best Friend is a solid movie, though of course, it has some serious flaws. And one flaw is that if anything, Man’s Best Friend is too serious at times, when the material seems to scream for some schlock. I like serious, straight horror movies, but this one could never go that route and it seems to know that in some scenes, but the humor is infrequent at best here. If the filmmakers would have embraced the schlock, then perhaps this could have been a wild, fun picture, but instead its a mixture of good & bad elements. I like the premise and the gore is cool, but things are too just too serious in some scenes. Even so, fans of animal attack flicks will still want to check out Man’s Best Friend.

If you’re a fan of these kind of movies, then without question, the mere presence of Lance Henriksen gives Man’s Best Friend some credibility. After all, we’ve seen him in countless movies and he’s more than earned his reputation. Henriksen has been in numerous horror movies, sci/fi pictures, and offbeat cinema, with some great mainstream movie and even television success, so he knows his way around the business. I won’t even try to pretend that he always chooses good projects to be involved with, but I do think he adds a lot to any movie. So while the elements around him aren’t always remarkable, Henriksen delivers on a consistent basis. As such, some folks seek out his pictures just to see his performances and if the movie happens to be good, then that’s a bonus to the experience. With Henriksen sharing screen time with an insane canine, there is immense potential here and of course, he more than delivers. His cold stare and scowl are on full showcase here, so fans of his can rest assured he is in top form. Other films with Henriksen include Stone Cold, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Near Dark, Jagged Edge, and Aliens. The cast also includes Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order), Robert Costanzo (Total Recall, Forget Paris), and William Sanderson (Fletch, Blade Runner).

Video: How does it look?

Man’s Best Friend is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, with a full frame version also included on this disc. This is a New Line release, so while the movie isn’t a classic, at least you know the presentation is top shelf. The print looks terrific, with no real defects to mention, even grain is minimal in this case. The film’s dark visuals come across well, with no visible detail loss and no instances of softness in the least. The contrast is smooth and consistent, thanks to refined black levels that never drop off. I found colors to be bright and natural, but the darker hues dominate in this one, at least most of the time. Another great looking effort from New Line, who seem to come through, even on lower profile catalog releases.

Audio: How does it sound?

This film has a mixture of audio styles, some scenes are quiet and reserved, while others are loud and explosive. The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track never wavers though, and handles even the harshest transitions without a hitch. There is some major canine chaos, and those scenes will have the surrounds pulsing, you’ll feel like the snarling teeth are aimed right at you. But the track does the more subtle sequences well also, with all the nuances and small impact audio coming across well. The dialogue is clear and consistent as well, no serious issues to find with this track. This disc also includes English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes the film’s theatrical trailer.

Disc Scores