Considered to be one of the best skateboarding films of all-time, Lords of Dogtown was released on Blu-ray for the first time ever this week by Mill Creek Entertainment. While I’ve never skateboarded in my life and don’t have a ton of interest in the sport, I love biopics and movies based on true events. I figured I would at least enjoy learning about the birth of modern skateboarding but unfortunately after viewing the film, I didn’t like it nearly as much as I hoped I would. This is mainly due to a story where nothing interesting happens, a run time that is twenty minutes too long, and some very unlikable characters. The skateboard scenes are fine but if this is really one of the best skateboarding films ever made, I guess the genre just isn’t for me.
Lords of Dogtown is based at least partially on a very well-received documentary called Dogtown and Z-Boys. The film takes place in the 1970s in Venice Beach, the birthplace of modern skateboarding. Surfboard designer Skip Engblom (Heath Ledger) is given polyurethane wheels for skateboards, which allow skaters to make the same types of moves they can on a surfboard. The new skateboards are a huge success and he forms a skate team consisting of Stacy Peralta (John Robinson), Jay Adams (Emile Hirsch), Tony Alva (Victor Rasuk), and others. After winning multiple local competitions, the three main skaters become famous and their relationship with Skip becomes complicated. That’s the gist of the film.
I would say my biggest problem with Lords of Dogtown is that very little happens (outside of the skateboard scenes) and considering the film is almost two hours long, it made the movie a bit boring. Unless you are a big skateboarding fan and can appreciate the skating scenes more than I can, this is one of those more slow-burn type films that I’m not really a big fan of (unless it’s about a subject I’m interested in). The whole film is basically skateboard scene, followed by a party or a scene of the main characters acting like hooligans (they are constantly breaking laws and acting like huge tools), and then the whole thing repeats all over again (with just a very loose plot connecting things). Obviously skateboarders aren’t exactly the most law-abiding people out there but more time should have been spent helping us get to know and like the characters a bit more, rather than just seeing them act like obnoxious jerks. At least in this film, these three skaters are the very definition of “punks” and I hope that they didn’t act like this in real-life (even if they were famous skateboarders who became celebrities at way too young of an age). If you make your characters complete jerks with no respect for anything and almost no redeeming qualities, it is really hard to root for them or care about how their lives went. That’s pretty much the case in Lords of Dogtown.
While I personally am not a fan of Lords of Dogtown, I can certainly see why skateboarders would enjoy it. Since I’m not a skateboarder, I have no idea what a good skateboarding routine looks like but they looked pretty decent to me (and the cinematography to capture the skateboarding is pretty good). Also, while there are a ton of skateboarding documentaries out there, there aren’t exactly a ton of scripted films out there making Lords of Dogtown somewhat unique. The soundtrack is decent but I wouldn’t say any of the songs are particularly memorable.
This is the first time Lords of Dogtown has ever appeared on Blu-ray. I would say that the film looks pretty good on Blu-ray but it isn’t exactly the type of film you need to see in high-definition unless you are a big fan of the movie. There are some rough areas, especially the night and surfing scenes (which look for lack of a better word, kind of pixelated), but most of the film looks solid. This release is the Unrated Extended Edition and it includes a decent amount of bonus features. Extras include two commentaries (one with the director and cast and the other with some of the actual Z-Boys), The Making of Lords of Dogtown featurette, Dogged on Dogtown featurette, a gag reel, and the theatrical trailer. If I was a fan of commentary tracks (I’m not and I rarely listen to them), the Z-Boy one would have sounded quite interesting. However, I only watched the featurettes and gag reel and I must say they are pretty average. They are nice additions to this release but average nonetheless.
Since I am not a skateboarder, I definitely don’t fit the target audience for this film even if I do love biopics and movies based on true stories. Unfortunately, Lords of Dogtown is more of a film that is meant for skateboarders and fans of the sport, not so much for people like me who are interested in seeing other subcultures and hobbies that they’ve never participated in themselves. Personally, as a non-skater I found the characters to be extremely unlikable and the story too long and repetitive. While I haven’t seen it yet, I’m pretty sure Dogtown and Z-Boys will be more up my alley. I am only going to give Lords of Dogtown a 2/5 but I do think that people that are more interested in skateboarding than me should give it a chance.
Lords of Dogtown was released on Blu-ray on March 6, 2018.
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of Lords of Dogtown used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.