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The Dictator: Banned & Unrated Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Video Codec: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, English Audio Description
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Region: A (B? C?)
  • Rating: R & Unrated
  • Run Time: 83 & 98 Mins.
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray, 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 21st, 2012
  • List Price: $44.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

The Dictator tells the story of Admiral General Shabazz Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen; Hugo), leader of the great North African Republic of Wadiya. After learning that he may be developing nuclear weapons, the United Nations Security Council demands that Aladeen travel to New York City to appear in front of the Council in order to plead his case. Shortly after arriving, Aladeen is kidnapped by Clayton (John C. Reilly), a hitman hired by his uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley; Hugo). Tamir’s goal in all of this is to replace Aladeen with a double, get the fake Aladeen to sign a treaty allowing Aladeen’s lands to dig for oil, thus making Tamir a very, very wealthy man. Unfortunately for Aladeen, his one recognizable trait (his beard) has been shaved off, this making him a complete ghost to everyone around him. Now it’s up to Aladeen to figure out how to get his great country back, with the help of local organic farmer Zoey (Anna Faris; Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked). What results is a damn funny film, poking fun at all the different political realms, all while still maintaining a sense of heart and soul.

Ah, Sacha Baron Cohen, can you do no wrong? Having been a fan of his since the early Ali G days on HBO, I was damn excited to see the amount of success and fame Cohen earned after the release of the downright hilarious, occasionally extremely wrong in tone, film Borat. Upon the release and worldwide reaction to Borat, I was curious to see what Cohen would tackle next. Learning that he would play a leader…wait no Admiral General… of a foreign country, I knew I would be there day one. Having never made it to the theater, I was excited to receive this title in. So, what’s the end verdict on Cohen’s The Dictator?

While not as funny as his standout Borat, The Dictator is still laugh-out-loud funny, but more bursting laughing with a sense of heart. Where Borat just went for the lowest of lows with its humor (oh, trust me the humor in Borat is still some of the funniest I’ve ever seen throughout the 27yrs of my life), The Dictator still uses the low brow jokes (9/11, politics); however, I found Cohen’s sense of purpose to be a bit more mature. Instead of relying on nothing but gross-out pokes and blips, Cohen attacks the political genre with purpose, with conviction, clearing laying out what he feels is ultimately wrong with today’s politics. Don’t worry tho folks, this isn’t going to turn into a tirade review of our current system. Instead, I’ll just say that if you don’t mind a bunch of jokes aimed at current topics, mixed in with some heart and soul, then definitely, definitely give this film a watch.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

This 2:40:1 framed, AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer isn’t as solid as one might expect, but still offers up a fine day-and-date effort from Paramount. Shot in high definition on the Arri Alexa, with Panavision Primo Lenses, the film uses the kind of color palette whose colors are bright and vibrant throughout. The blacks of Aladeen’s hair, greens of the NYC grass, and the red-white-blues of the American Flag all pop off the screen. Detail is also rock solid, particularly that of the beard of Aladeen (as we can notice each individual little hair fiber). Noise, or any other issues are nowhere to be found. Contrast levels can be a bit pumped up, but I’m more inclined to think this may have been a stylistic choice by the filmmakers. All in all, this transfer (like the below audio) suits the film well.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Arriving with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, this lossless mix fares well. Even though this is a comedy, and comedies do have genre limitations in the audio department, we’re still given a solid effort from Paramount. Dialogue, as funny and laugh-out-loud as it is at times, is well reproduced throughout. Atmosphere can be a bit reserved, but there are signs of life via effects like cars passing by in New York. LFE offers up a bit of low-end, mostly via the varying musical moments. All in all this isn’t a standout track in any sense, but more one that handles the film with no issue.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

The included supplements are featured in High Definition:

  • Deleted & Extended Scenes – Running a whopping 33:43 in length, we’re given a whole host of deleted/extended scenes, most of which are worth a chuckle or two.
  • Music Video – A 1:35 video for the song “Your Money is on the Dresser” by Aladeen.
  • Larry King Interview – A bit more (2:49) of the Larry King interview.
  • DVD –  A DVD of the film is included on a separate disc.
  • UltraViolet
  • Digital Copy – A Digital Copy, playable in iTunes, is included.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

While not as funny as some of his previous efforts, I still can’t help but wholly recommend Cohen’s The Dictator on all fronts. The film is funny, timely, but all with a sense of purpose. Paramount’s Blu-ray delivers the goods with a fine V/A presentation and a few features (I would’ve liked to see more tho). Basically, if you’re a fan of Cohen’s previous works, pick this one up. Otherwise, add this to your rental queue asap.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B005LAIHHC[/amazon-product]

Purchase The Dictator on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack at CD Universe

The Dictator: Banned & Unrated

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B005LAIHHC[/amazon-product]

Purchase The Dictator on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack at CD Universe

The Dictator: Banned & Unrated

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Good review. I missed The Dictator in the theater and I’ve
    been hesitant to buy it because while I loved Borat, I thoroughly disliked
    Bruno. You’ve convinced me enough to rent it though, so I’ll put it in my
    Blockbuster @Home queue since there’s not really any risk in renting movies
    that way. I have a coworker at Dish who’s never been exposed to any of Cohen’s
    movies, so I think when it comes in the mail I’ll invite her over for a movie
    night LOL.

  2. Hi there Nosgoth1979,

    First off, thank you for the kind words :)

    Secondly, I was in the same boat as you, having missed The Dictator during its rather limited theater run.

    Some may not like this one, but I found it to be just as funny as Bruno (one of Cohen’s more underrated efforts partially due to the subject matter…but, that’s another topic for discussion).

    Thanks for reading!

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