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New Line Home Cinema presents
Bones (2001)

Maurice: Jimmy Bones?Patrick: You heard of him?Maurice: You haven't?Patrick: No, not that I can remember.Maurice: He was a local legend back in the 70s.
- Sean Amsing, Khalil Kain

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: February 24, 2002

Stars: Snoop Dog, Pam Grier, Khalil Kain
Other Stars: Sean Amsing, Katharine Isabelle, Clifton Powell, Michael T. Weiss, Bianca Lawson
Director: Ernest Dickerson

Manufacturer: Laser Pacific
MPAA Rating: R for Violence/gore, language, sexuality and drugs
Run Time: 01h:36m:39s
Release Date: February 26, 2002
UPC: 794043540721
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- C-A-A- A-

DVD Review

With Bones, director Ernest Dickerson has tried very hard to create a new classic horror character, and while his visual style works very well, the tepid screenplay is sadly lacking in enough genuine chills to make this film succeed. While he borrows liberally from classic gothic horror films, most notably the eerie shadows of F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu, Dickerson has all of the requisite thematic visual elements in place, but is left with an evil lead character who is too vague in his alliances to be completely threatening.The story of Bones concerns a group of modern day twenty-something hip-hopper/DJ types who scheme to open a new nightclub in a gritty inner-city neighborhood. The problem, unbeknownst to them, is that the building is the final resting place of "gentleman gangster" Jimmy Bones (rapper Snoop Dogg), who was unceremoniously murdered during a nasty double-cross in 1979. Bones' building, which resembles a screaming architectural skull, has been haunted ever since, and the opening sequence features a couple of dopey, white-bread, suburban drug buyers meeting nasty deaths after hiding out in there.Of course, despite the warnings of neighborhood psychic Pearl (blaxploitation queen Pam Grier), the group, led by Patrick (Khalil Kain) go ahead and begin work on their new, trendy nightclub. The film glosses over how four bickering youths, including Ginger Snaps' Katharine Isabelle, could gut and renovate the building, as well as install a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system. Pearl's daughter Cynthia (Bianca Lawson) begins a relationship with Patrick, against the best wishes of her watchful mother, who somehow knows what type of evil lurks in the old building.The first half of Bones is a slow build up to the eventual resurfacing of Jimmy Bones. It would be easy to write off Snoop Dogg's portrayal as another laughable attempt by a musician to make that leap onto the big screen. In Dogg's defense, his role doesn't require much in the way of dialogue, and he does have the necessary cadaverous look to carry off the role well enough. Since much of this film relies more on recreating a certain look and feel than it does developing realistic characters, Dogg's spin as the murderous Bones is not the reason that this film fails.Adam Simon's screenplay is another variation on the popular resurrected-evil-seeking-vengance genre, and there is little in the way of dramatic tension, other than what is created under the cinematography of Flavio Martínez Labiano and Dickerson's direction. Borrowing heavily visuals from an array of horror films such as The Omen, Hellraiser and Dracula, Dickerson manages to fill the screen with more than enough chilling imagery for three films. What's missing is a storyline that presents something more than just a new spin on an urban Freddy Krueger. A few jokes centered around a pair of severed heads work well, and reveal more of the type of clever writing that this film needed.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: With its 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, the image on this disc is beautiful. As Dickerson's film is layered in darkness most of the time, New Line has issued a clean transfer featuring black levels that are solid, with excellent shadow delineation. Colors have an icy blue hue during much of the external night scenes, and the interiors are bathed in deep reds and blacks.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Spanishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: With an impressive selection of Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX and DTS 6.1 ES mixes, this New Line Platinum release is rock solid. Front channels handle the dialogue and score well, with a natural and robust sound stage. Directional imaging is excellent on both tracks, with the DTS having a more substantial bottom end. Both mixes increase the sound field presentation by dressing up the rear channels with properly spooky ambient sound cues, as well as musical score accents. A 2.0 Dolby Surround track is also provided.Excellent.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
14 Deleted Scenes
Screenplay
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Ernest R. Dickerson, Snoop Dogg, Adam Simon
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Music videos
Extras Review: New Line has continued the trend of filling their Platinum Series discs with a solid set of extras.CommentaryErnest R. Dickerson, Snoop Dogg, screenwriter Adam Simon offer a full-length, scene-specific commentary. Snoop interjects occasionally, with a mumbly speech pattern that makes me think he wasn't necessarily acting when he portrayed the character of Jimmy Bones. Luckily, Dickerson and Simon handle most of the discussion. While some of the comments tend to be reiteration of what is occurring onscreen, Dickerson and Simon describe their intent in creating Bones, and some of their influences, in addition to details on the location shoot in Vancouver. I did pick up some interesting maggot information, however: In the film's big maggot sequence, a combination of orzo and grub worms were used, because maggots have a tendency to bite. This track made me appreciate the filmmaker's intent more, but it didn't necessarily make me enjoy the finished product any more.Digging Up Bones (23m:46s)One of the weird claims made in this segment is the comparison of Snoop Dogg's music videos to German Expressionism. Snoop himself is praised excessively, almost to the point of nausea. Tossing that bit of hard-to-swallow fluff aside, we're left with a series of behind-the-scenes sections that cover the design of Bones' building, the effects creations, including the maggott-spitting devil dog. Much of the footage makes the film look much better than it really is. Urban Gothic: Bones and Its Influences(9m:00s)This short featurette examines the gothic roots of Bones, by rather overstating its worth by comparing it stylistically to Frankenstein, Nosferatu and Dracula, as well as Dickerson's attempt to bridge elements of Italian horror and blaxploitation, while retaining a gothic feel. Much of this segment consists of clips from old horror films, with voice-overs talking about Bones.Deleted/Extended ScenesThere are 14 deleted or extended scenes in this section, running about twenty minutes, available with or without director Dickerson's commentary. He explains that the bulk of the scenes were trimmed on orders of the studio to keep the film under 95 minutes. None are exceptionally enlightening, but Ginger Snaps fans will revel in Katharine Isabelle's "Bath Time/Fire In The Water" scene, with its creepy shadow puppets. Isabelle is underused in this film, and it's too bad any of her scenes were cut.Other included scenes are:Life On The Block (2m:28s)Checking For A Ripe One (1m:05s)World Domination (1m:27s)Someone Is Watching (1m:27s)Cold As Ice/Warm As Blood (2m:35s)Bath Time/Fire In The Water (2m:03s)Visions (2m:57s)Stay Away From That House (2m:07s)Don't Say Another Word (:40s)The Truth (1m:20s)All Debts Are Paid (2m:13s)A Visitor (2m:23s)His Name Was Bones (1m:06s)Bill's Turn (1m:00s)Music VideosIf you like Snoop Dogg's music, then you may find these videos enjoyable. I didn't.Dogg Named Snoop (Standard Version) (3m:25s)Dogg Named Snoop (Live Version) (3m:50s)Theatrical Press KitThis EPK collection features text-based info on cast, filmmakers and the production. DVD-ROM features script-to-screenplay access, which allows you to watch scenes while reading the script, as well as links to the Bones website

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

Dickerson's stab at contemporary gothic horror, which is nicely packaged and features wonderfully dark and shadowy sets, is lacking substantially in plot. Bones looks very good, but ultimately lands wide of the mark dramatically. If the script had been half as good as the cinematography, this could have been a classic. Even with the impressive image and audio transfers on this disc, the actual film is hollow.

 


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