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October 6, 2012
The Dictator Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
16/5/20124/10/2012ParamountLarry Charles
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Sacha Baron Cohen

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Sacha Baron Cohen as The Dictator.

Sacha Baron Cohen is an comedian that loves to push boundaries, but in the process manages to offend pretty much every (minority or majority) group on this planet. Over the course of his TV and film career (which includes Ali G Indahouse, Borat and Brüno) he has offended parliaments, gays, the nation of Kazakhstan, vegetarians, victims of rape, victims of terrorism, Jews, African Americans, Muslims, the American National Anthem, women, politician Ron Paul, Palestinians, hunters, and swingers. That's only naming a few with easily that many again with other groups I've neglected to mention. If you're easily offended, his brand of comedy probably isn't for you.

Now the British comedian has turned to the theme of dictators and terrorism with his latest film, The Dictator. Has it been long enough since September 11? Apparently so...

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This scene in the helicopter is hilarious.
The Dictator, which was co-written by Sacha Baron Cohen, follows Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen as the ruthless dictator of the fictional nation of Wadiya as his country strives to build nuclear weapons. As is the way of the world, he is soon threatened by the United Nations weapons inspections. In order to stop this Aladeed must travel to New York to address the United Nations, but when he is kidnapped, he is made unrecognisable and is left with no way to get his message across to the world and save his country, and regain his dictatorship.

Directed by Larry Charles (who previously directed Borat and Brüno) this film has actually been scripted so there's no setup moments like those previous two films. To us, this meant the film lost some of the wit and edge, but also meant a little more coherent storyline, better production values and bigger and better sets. There really are some fantastic moments in this film - from a scene in a helicopter over New York which is mistaken for a planned terrorism attack, the numerous orders to "assassinate" various citizens of Wadiya, the "trophy wall" after he beds Megan Fox, the way in which many popular Western songs are converted to Wadiyan, Aladeen learning about masturbation, and his treatment of Zoey (Anna Faris) to manage to the store.

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Ben Kingsey makes an appearance in The Dictator.
This Blu-Ray also comes with the Theatrical and Extended edition of the films. After watching both versions we actually found the shorter 83 minute Theatrical version mode concise and coherent while the Extended edition, which adds a further 16 minutes or so, mostly added scenes which we didn't really "get" including one which focuses on Aladeen's love for young boys, and a rather stupid, but still somewhat amusing, fight between Aladeen and a guard with monstrous breasts.

The Dictator probably doesn't have the constant laughs of some of the Sacha Baron Cohen's other films, but it still has plenty of moments that will have you in stitches. Fans of his other works would do well to check this latest film out.

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Nice grounds design of The Dictator's palace.
Encoded at the film’s original 2.40:1 aspect ratio and using the AVC MPEG-4 codec at Blu-Ray's usual 1080p resolution, this is a film which struggles to retain a consistent look from start to finish - but that's a fault of the filming, not the actual transfer to Blu-Ray. Having said that this transfer does exhibit, for the most part, plenty of fine detail in the scenes as well as vibrant colours but at times appear a little too warm with many scenes taking on an orange hue. Then again, I guess most of this film is set in a hot, desert-like country.

The Dictator comes to Blu-Ray with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track that isn't going to dazzle you, but that's only due to the comedic nature of the film. There's no car chases, shootouts or explosions to make your room come alive, but as a dialogue driven film there are still some moments where the surround sound channels kick in (such as when Aladeen addresses the crowd in Wadiya, or when the crowds protest his arrival in America), and the sub-woofer gets a workout.

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We won't spoil it, but this scene is hilarious.
We've already mentioned the great way in which the film converts popular Western music into Wadiyan - and Erran Baron Cohen (who is indeed Sacha's brother) deserves credit for solid music throughout the film. We really couldn't expect much more from this transfer.

Beyond the English track the disc includes French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 640kbps. Naturally these tracks aren't as impressive as the English lossless track, but they seem to get the job done from our samplings. An English Audio Descriptive track also encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 is included. Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese. We sampled the English subtitles which were accurate to the dialogue.

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Sacha Baron Cohen as the dictator, Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen.
Unfortunately the extras on this disc are really quite light-on which is disappointing as we would loved to have seen some of Sacha's creative process in writing and starring in the film.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (33:43/HD): There are 15 deleted and extended scenes presented here, some are superb, some are quite disappointing. Some of these appeared in the extended cut of the film, and while their quality is variable (in terms of content, the video and audio quality is superb), they are definitely worth checking out.

Music Video - Best Love Song "Your Money is on the Dresser" (1:35/HD): A funny clip where Aladeen wins the best video award for his song which is then shown, and starring Baron Cohen's real-world wife, and Aussie, Isla Fisher.

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Anna Faris also stars in The Dictator.
Larry King Interview (2:49/HD): Here's the full interview between Aladeen and Larry King, and there's some pretty amusing stuff here.

The Dictator is certain to divide opinion due to some of the subject matter, including terrorism and (in the extended cut) a fancy for young boys, but it's a pretty amusing film overall. Somewhat disappointingly the theatrical version is better than the extended one, but fans of Baron Cohen should enjoy this release which is given a solid transfer on Blu-Ray with a couple of extras.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Paramount. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.