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Warner Home Video presents
Saving Shiloh (2006)

"I don't know what's wrong with squirrels. I been eating them my whole life. There's nothing wrong with them."
- Judd Travers (Scott Wilson)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: September 28, 2006

Stars: Scott Wilson, Gerald McRaney
Other Stars: Jason Dolley, Ann Dowd, Kyle Chavarria, Jordan Garrett, Taylor Momsen, Liberty Smith, Bonnie Bartlett
Director: Sandy Tung

MPAA Rating: PG for (thematic elements and mild peril)
Run Time: 01h:30m:21s
Release Date: August 22, 2006
UPC: 012569749252
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The decision to make a Shiloh film franchise was a no-brainer, given the popularity of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's series of books. In this third installment, Saving Shiloh, it's one year after we last saw Shiloh, and his new owner, Marty Preston (Jason Dolley) takes great care of the loveable dog. His old owner, Judd Travers (Scott Wilson), has Shiloh so terrified of him that he won't even go near the bridge which leads to the old man's house. Marty is out with his friend David (Jordan Garrett), when they find an empty car. They soon discover that the car's owner is missing and that Judd could be behind this disappearance. Seemingly channeling the Hardy Boys, Marty and David set out to unravel this mystery themselves. With Shiloh's help, and the support of mutual female friend Sam (Taylor Momsen), they wind up learning more about Judd than they ever could have imagined.

This is the deepest, most complex, and, as a result, most effective of the films. More time is spent on the Judd character than ever before, and that works heavily in Saving Shiloh's favor, at least from an adult perspective. We've always seen him as this codger who is always mad about something, and now that there's an extensive back story, we're able to care for Judd, seeing him in an entirely different light. Unfortunately, most of the Judd-less scenes suffer from overacting and a dull storyline, only shining when Shiloh is doing something cute. These sequences might work for the youngsters, who are about 80% of the target audience, but this is a "family" film, and the adults who enjoy the dramatic aspects will be fighting sleep.

The one constant among all three Shiloh films is the welcome presence of veteran character actor Scott Wilson (In Cold Blood, Junebug). Wilson is one of those guys that you recognize in a film, but can never remember his name, only that you've seen him many times before. His work as the grumpy old Travers has been impressive throughout these films, and he is the main reason to spend some quality time with Saving Shiloh. He brings professionalism to a film in a genre that doesn't always require amazing acting work. So many "animal movies" are all about being overly cutesy, while doing nothing but focusing on the adorable antics of the dog, horse, cat, etc. Wilson single-handedly gives this film grit and substance that would otherwise be lacking.

Despite its welcome complexities, they are mostly limited to the Judd storyline and Wilson's performance. The rest of the cast is solid in parts, but they are always overshadowed. Fans of Deadwood who might be intrigued by the presence of Gerald McRaney as Marty's dad, should be warned that his performance is more Major Dad than George Hearst. Jason Dolley is the third kid to play Marty Preston, and he does a decent job, but Jordan Garrett as David needs some fine tuning. All of this being said, it's hard to believe we've barely touched on the title character, Shiloh. I'm not sure how true this aspect is to this particular book in the series, but the pooch takes a back seat to the humans this time around. Sure, there's still plenty of canine mugging for the camera, but the main storyline often leaves the dog without much to do. Thankfully, Scott Wilson comes through with more fine work, and makes Saving Shiloh a DVD worth seeking out.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: This dual-sided disc features both an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen presentation and a "family-friendly" pan and scan transfer. Unfortunately, both suffer from a soft picture that shows quite a bit of unwanted dirt and grain. For such a new film, these transfers are very disappointing, but a bright, color palette and solid blacks keep things respectable.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio fares better, though, as the Dolby Digital 5.1 track does its job very well. There's nothing overly bombastic about it, since this is a generally light-hearted family film, but there's enough surround usage and crisp dialogue to make it pleasing to the ear.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Superman: Brainiac Attacks, JammX Kids, Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers, Shiloh Book Series
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. "Open Your Heart" Music Video - By Dayna Lane
  2. An Interview with Shiloh
  3. Interviews with Cast and Filmmakers
Extras Review: There are just a few extras, including an interview with Shiloh. This three-minute piece shows the canine star of Saving Shiloh discussing how she was cast for the film, via a little girl's voiceover.

There's also a collection of cast and filmmaker interviews that last 17 minutes and provide some nice insight into the making of this film. They also discuss the other Shiloh films and the books that they are based on.

A music video for the song Open Your Heart by Dayna Lane is here as well, along with a collection of trailers for other kid-oriented Warner Home Video releases.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

If Saving Shiloh is truly the final film in the series, it's a bit of a mixed bag, yet, strangely enough, it's the most entertaining of the franchise. Buoyed in large part by Scott Wilson's amazing reprisal of the Judd Travers role, the involving main storyline overcomes a series of flaws. The DVD is passable as well.


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