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Alpha Dog

by

Jeff Nelson

This is the type of movie that sticks with you even after it ends. It's not a happy film and becomes very intense and creates a major emotional punch to the viewers.

Alpha Dog
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There have been quite a few tragic drug films released in the past decade or so. They aren't easy films to watch and can be very uncomfortable to watch. Anybody who has seen Requiem for a Dream should know what I'm talking about. These films show how much drugs can tear apart a person's life. Alpha Dog takes the real life story of Jesse James Hollywood and the kidnapping of Nicholas Markowitz and shows how terrible people can be.

Jake owes the Los Angeles drug dealer named Johnny. One day, he sees Jake's 15-year-old brother walking alone and decides to kidnap him. When he has an opportunity to escape, he decides to stay to avoid causing more problems for his brother. I'm not sure how faithful the film is to the actual story, but I'm sure there are exaggerated elements. What do you expect from Hollywood? I feel that the screenplay is rather well written. However, I'm aware that some people have been offended by it due to the excessive swearing. I believe that the film wouldn't be the same without the cursing. A drug dealer isn't going to be censoring himself when he's having a temper tantrum. It's just not believable. In order for the film to feel real to the audience, characters have to be represented accurately. If you're expecting a happy film with a feel-good ending, you will want to pass on this film. Alpha Dog doesn't sugar-coat anything and shows everything it needs to.

Delivering the material is a very capable cast. Emile Hirsch, Justin Timberlake, Shawn Hatosy, Bruce Willis, Ben Foster, and David Thornton all perform well together. There are too many times that singers who become actors fail in their acting career and just don't have the talent to be in films. Justin Timberlake isn't one of them. He impresses the audience by giving a very realistic performance that makes you forget that you're even watching Timberlake. There are small roles by actors such as Amanda Seyfried and Amber Heard. They have become bigger in the industry since this film. While none of the actors give Oscar-worthy performances, they certainly get the job done while making the film feel very believable.

While the visuals don't reach the level of Requiem for a Dream, they're suitable for the film. However, there are some scenes that do stand out. In the pool scene between David Thornton, Amanda Seyfried, and Amber Heard is shot rather well. The lighting is set up well. Other than other more personal scenes, there isn't anything great about the visuals.

After hearing all of the positive and negative opinions on this film, I decided to check it out to get my own thoughts on it. I can understand that this type of deep film isn't for everyone. This is the type of movie that sticks with you even after it ends. It's not a happy film and becomes very intense and creates a major emotional punch to the viewers. Alpha Dog won't get positive reviews from everyone, but it's an effective film that works and is definitely worth watching.

My Rating = Four Stars

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