Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Teenaged Zack Mazursky (Yelchin) is beaten and kidnapped by Johnny Truelove (Hirsch)—a small-time drug dealer trying to make it big-time—and his thugs, while walking through Cahuilla Community Park. Held as a marker until his older brother Jake (a very scary Foster) can repay a debt, he befriends his captors and becomes part of the group...or so he is led to believe. Alpha Dog is based on the real-life kidnapping and subsequent murder of Nick Markowitz. Actual names and places have been changed. (Jack Kelley)
Special features include an 11-minute making-of featurette and a 38-person witness gallery, plus up-front previews.
The anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 DVD exhibits a generally soft image quality, with details that are generally poorly defined. Fleshtones often look plugged up, and black levels are milky. Shadow delineation is also limited, and edge enhancement is noticeable throughout. Quite a combo. But, source element artifacts are rare, for what it's worth. The VC-1-encoded HD DVD looks slightly better, with more natural fleshtones and better shadow delineation. Details can still look soft, and black levels are still not very deep. Colors are more realistic, but the picture quality is still lacking. (Danny Richelieu)
The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack is generally limited to the front three screen channels, with the surround channels only used for low-level effects. The front stage is fairly broad and dialogue is recorded well. Music is presented well across the front stage, with good imaging and recording quality. The HD DVD's Dolby Digital Plus 5.1-channel encoding is articulate, with good overall fidelity, but the same discrepancies in the mix are still audible. Dynamic range is improved slightly, with low level nuances in the recording more audible than in the regular Dolby encoding. The Dolby TrueHD encoding that is also included on the disc provides a very subtle improvement in detail and dynamic range, but it is subtle. (Danny Richelieu)