War Dogs Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

81

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2016
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 114 minutes
Genre: Drama/Biopic

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Bradles Cooper, Ana De Armas
Directed by: Todd Phillips
Music by: Cliff Martinez
Written by: Stehpen Chin, Todd Phillips, Jason Smilovic
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 22, 2016

“Based on a True Story”

My Take:

Based on a true story, “War Dogs” follows two friends in their early 20s (Hill and Teller) living in Miami Beach during the Iraq War who exploit a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on U.S. Military contracts. Starting small, they begin raking in big money and are living the high life. But the pair gets in over their heads when they land a 300 million dollar deal to arm the Afghan Military—a deal that puts them in business with some very shady people, not the least of which turns out to be the U.S. Government.

Based on the Rolling Stone Magazine article “Arms and the Dudes” by Guy Lawson, War Dogs tells the real-life story of a couple of Miami men in their early twenties, who with zero experience, managed to land large arms supply contracts (one of which was worth 300 million dollars) to the U.S. Government. Being so young, coming into large amounts of money, led them to extravagance, and ultimately risk taking that would inevitably be their undoing. The story is told from the perspective of David Packouz, a struggling everyman type, searching to find his place in the world, who is immediately smitten by the quick wealth, and edge of the blade lifestyle, offered to him by partner Efraim Diveroli.

I found War Dogs to be an interesting character study of not only these two men, but the U.S. Government’s system at the time, which apparently had zero oversight, enabling two novices to capitalize on its series of loopholes. The narrative paints a vivid portrait of each allowing an eye-opening peek behind the curtain as you form a bond with David and Efraim, succumbing to their wiles despite the fact that at times they can prove pretty unlikeable. Both Jonah Hill and Miles Teller give compelling performances, which solidifies the film’s drama/melodrama and fact based elements. War Dogs isn’t perfectly executed, and has an agenda, but that doesn’t prevent it from being an enlightening and entertaining film.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language throughout, drug use and some sexual references.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element):

UHD Presentation: 76
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color & WCG:
  • Resolution:
  • Visual Impact:

Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

For those not willing to refer to the article linked above, I have included some comments here. The implementation of high dynamic range as it stands currently, doesn’t appear to have exacting standards and no calibration tools to allow for a foundational threshold for setting up a visual system. This leaves us to do the best we can to determine what appears to be accurate, at least for the time being. With that in mind, my approach to reviewing Ultra HD Blu-ray will be to assess the elements observed which I find to generate the most significant visual impact when compared to standard high definition Blu-ray.

For me, Ultra HD’s high dynamic range/wide color gamut, with its broader spectrum of colors and emboldened highlights in the areas of contrast and brightness, is where the potential lies in the format. The increase in resolution, while an important component, isn’t going to be definitive in every case, especially given that currently many of the Ultra HD Blu-ray releases are derived from 2K Digital Intermediates that are up-converted to 4K. This shouldn’t be strictly construed to mean that such up-converted images won’t look noticeably better than their 1080p counterparts. Conversely, a release finished on a 4K Digital Intermediate isn’t a guarantee that it will be heads and shoulders above the rest. So, what can you expect to hear from me when discussing what I observed from Ultra HD Blu-ray? I will hit upon the things that struck me, the impact, or lack of impact, of HDR and the improvement, if any, in resolution when compared to 1080p Blu-ray. The outcome will be a rating as seen above.

Front projection for home theater is just stepping through the door with respect to the reproduction of HDR. My goal is to present readers with a reasonable expectation of what they can expect when viewing the same content that I have. There may be variables that differ slightly however I believe that in general the outcome will be close. As we are exposed to more and more content and calibration tools come onboard we will have better perspectives from which to gauge. Thanks for reading!

War Dogs comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.

War Dogs was derived from a 3.4K source, rendered from a 2K DI, and up-converted to 4K. With the limited exposure to Ultra HD either sourced from 2K or 4K Digital Intermediates we are left to judge based upon what we have seen thus far.

In looking at the opening moments of War Dogs the first thing that struck me was that there wasn’t an appreciable uptick in sharpness and detail compared to the Blu-ray. Upon closer inspection, I could make out finer details in facial features, and clothing, but this predominantly came during close ups. Depending on the camera’s perspective, discernible improvements in depth could be seen during wide angle shots such as those taking place in the various interior venues, or in the streets of Jordan, but in most respects I saw little difference in apparent resolution when checking select scenes from the UHD and Blu-ray. The rendering of color, especially primaries, was slightly more vibrant, and fleshtones had more tonal warmth, when compared to the 1080p presentation.

I found the presentation to be very tame in terms of its use of dynamic highlights, both bright and dark. With the exception of the sun splashed rooftop sequence in Jordan (which I thought could have been tamed somewhat), the image didn’t make any visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements. In general, the image, which looked fine overall, lacked the eye-catching depth and sparkle compared to the better Ultra HD presentations I have seen. I wouldn’t describe it as poor quality but there is little about this Ultra HD presentation that left an impression on me.

This is primarily a dialog driven film however there are elements in the film that require use of the entire system so its ability to clearly render them is essential. Dialog is reproduced with transparent realism and lucid texture as it is appropriately balanced within the front soundstage. The surround mix utilizes the entire platform to recreate the many acoustic sounds associated with the environments portrayed onscreen. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience/musical extension as well as directional panning cues that effectively support the front soundstage. This is a complimentary audio presentation that mates well with the source material

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

War Dogs comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 Mbps.

This is an excellent Blu-ray offering from Warner that looks great in high definition. Detail rendering is nearly flawless with lucid visual acuity and fine articulation that brings forth lots of subtle detail in the images onscreen. Colors are rich and delineated with pleasing primaries and warm tonality that make them pop nicely. The palette of secondary hues featured in the story, appear vivid and warm. Flesh tones are natural with varying degrees of complexional separation among the cast. Boldly applied contrast and consistent black levels provide excellent balance during bright scenes containing mixed content. Shadow detail is strong which brings out plenty of discernible texture in low/uneven lighting and dark backgrounds.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: War Dogs Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: War Dogs Blu-ray
  • (HD) General Phillips: Boots on the Ground – 8 minute featurette
  • (HD) War Dogs: Access Granted – 10 minute featurette
  • (HD) Pentagon Pie – 3 minute short
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the Rolling Stone Magazine article “Arms and the Dudes” by Guy Lawson, War Dogs is a predominantly well-crafted, and enacted film, that makes for an interesting and enlightening dramatic movie watching experience. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack that features fair Ultra HD video, excellent high definition audio/video and a middling supplement package that offers insights from the cast/crew and real people associated with the story. War Dogs makes for a solid watch and deserves a place near the top of your Ultra HD/Blu-ray rental queue.

Ralph Potts
online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player
Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package

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