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Man's Best Friend (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Man's Best Friend (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: April 9th, 2019.
    Director: John Lafia
    Cast: Ally Sheedy, Lance Henriksen, Robert Constanzo, Fredric Lehne, William Sanderson
    Year: 1994
    Purchase From Amazon

    Man's Best Friend - Movie Review:

    A weird mix of the nineties technophobic thriller genre and a good old fashioned killer animal movie, John Lafia's 1994 picture Man's Best Friend introduces us to the EMAX Research Center. Here, scientists do experiments on animals for various reasons, something that doesn't sit well with a certain segment of the population. Part of that population is Lori Tanner (Ally Sheedy) and her pal Annie (Trula M. Marcus), so they decide to sneak in one night with a camera and document the atrocities they expect to encounter. As they make their way in and document the presence of everything from birds to bears, they come across a large dog named Max who they decide to free.

    That night, Max goes home with Lori much to the completely understandable dismay of her husband, Perry (Fredric Lehne). His suspicions rise when he realizes that the dog is watching them get it on through the keyhole of their bedroom door! Regardless, Lori insists that the dog stay and Perry relents. What neither of them realizes, but will soon find out, is that Max was the test subject of some serious genetic tweaks courtesy of scientist Dr. Jarret (Lance Henriksen) and, since those experiments were carried out on him, he's basically the canine equivalent of The Six Million Dollar Man (for those too young to have been familiarized with the exploits of one Steve Austin, that dated reference basically means the dog is really fast and really strong). When Jarret finds out his uber-dog is missing, he sets out to find it, while Max, now free of the confines of the lab, basically goes on the expected killing spree.

    A fun cast highlight this picture. Ally Sheedy is her typically likeable self, and she looks genuinely cute here with her pixie cut hair style. She and Trula M. Marcus make a good team and she has enough chemistry with Fredric Lehne that we can buy them as a couple. While Sheedy and Lance Henriksen don't share a lot of screen time together, they're fun to watch when they do. Even without Sheedy around for many of his scenes, the ever-reliable Henriksen is a kick in his role. He's perfectly cast here as the tough, surly scientist and he makes the most of his role.

    Lafia and company aren't reinventing the wheel here, but they deliver solid entertainment and a few good laughs along the way. There are some impressive kills scenes here and good effects work too, the animatronic dog effects conjured up for a few key scenes are very well done. The film is paced well, it moves quickly and is quite efficient, and the production values are decent from start to finish. If this isn't the world's most original film, it doesn't matter - Man's Best Friend is well done and it makes for a good time at the movies.

    Man's Best Friend - Blu-ray Review:

    Man's Best Friend comes to Blu-ray from Shout! Factory in a 1.85.1 widescreen transfer in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 50GB disc in a very solid presentation taken from a 'new 2k scan of original film elements.'. There's a bit of minor print damage early in the film but nothing to complain about after that. Detail definitely surpasses what DVD provided and skin tones look fine. Black levels are good and color reproduction is very nice. The transfer is free of noticeable compression problems, edge enhancement or noise reduction issues, retaining a natural amount of noticeable film grain.

    The film is given DTS-HD tracks on 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound with optional subtitles offered in English only. The 5.1 mix is a thinner than the stereo track but it spreads out the score and the effects rather well while keeping most of the dialogue right up front. Neither track has any noticeable hiss or distortion and there's reasonable depth throughout.

    The main extra on the disc is a commentary track with director John Lafia which, unfortunately, suffers from some rather massive gaps of silence. When he's on, he's interesting enough and speaks with fondness about working on the picture. He occasionally shares some amusing anecdotes about the cast and crew he was involved with and tells some behind the scenes stories. This one might have been better with a moderator on board to keep him engaged in the talk.

    Aside from that we get a trailer for the feature, a teaser spot, a TV spot, menus and chapter selection.

    Man's Best Friend - The Final Word:

    Man's Best Friend is a bit derivative, sure, but that never diminishes its entertainment value. Some impressive effects set pieces and kills scenes help this stand out and the cast are fun to watch. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release is light on extras but it does look and sound quite nice. Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Man's Best Friend screen caps!





























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