Dogtown and Z-Boys (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
December 18, 2009 by Dennis Amith
The classic documentary about the Zephyr Competition Team from Dogtown is now on Blu-ray! Stacy Peralta’s “Dogtown and Z-Boys” is a documentary that captures an era in time of the emergence of the Zephyr skateboard team with vintage footage of competitions and sessions and interviews with the main members from the original group.
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TITLE: Dogtown and Z-Boys
DOCUMENTARY YEAR OF RELEASE: 2001
DURATION: 91 Minutes
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:33:1) Full Screen, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Subtitles: English, English SDH,Hindi
RATED: PG-13 (For Language and Some Drug References)
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics
RELEASE DATE: January 5, 2010
Directed by Stacy Peralta
Written by Stacy Peralta and Craig Stecyk
Executive Producer: Jay Wilson
Producer: Agi Orsi
Co-Producer: Glen E. Friedman, Stephen Nemeth, Daniel Ostroff
Associate Producer: Debra MacCulloch, Christine Triano
Music by Paul Crower, Terry Wilson
Cinematography by Sebastian Jungwirth, Peter Pilafian
Edited by Paul Crowder
Production Design by Craig Stecyk
Narrated by Sean Penn
“Baby” Paul Cullen
Glen E. Friedman
Narrated by SEAN PENN and featuring old-school skating footage, a blistering soundtrack and riveting interviews with skateboarding icons TONY ALVA, JAY ADAMS and TONY HAWK, this award-winning documentary is a historic, no-holds-barred, behind-the-scenes look at the birth of a cultural phenomenon, and the inspiration for the thrilling feature film LORDS OF DOGTOWN.
In 2001, a documentary by legendary skater and documentary filmmaker Stacy Peralta and Craig Stecyk, one of the original founders of Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions surf shop in Venice, California was released to people who have waited for this documentary with high anticipation.
A winner of the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature, the documentary focuses on life in Dogtown (Dogtown is the nickname of an area between Santa Monica and Pacific Ocean Park bridge) and the emergence of the Zephyr skateboard team back in the 1970’s. Showcasing the surf scene near the dilapidated ruins of the pier and Pacific Ocean Park, the beginning of Jeff Ho Surfboards and Zephyr Productions surf shop and the beginning of the Zephyr Competition Team and how the paid competitions came between members of the group. But most importantly showcasing the influence the Z-Boys made in skateboarding.
From their pool skating sessions and the group doing aerials to their involvement in professional skate competitions and more. “Dogtown and Z-Boys” featured a good number of archived footage from teenagers who wanted to become part of the Z-Boys group by filming and documenting the talented skaters and also featuring interviews with members of the Zephyr Competition Team.
The documentary was financed by Vans, Inc. with a $400,00 budget, the shoes that Stacy Peralta (director of the documentary and one of the popular members of the Zephyr Competition Team that became a professional, sponsored skateboarder) promoted back when he was as a pro skateboarder. The documentary would feature a narration by award winning actor Sean Penn (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, “Milk”, “Deadman Walking”) and the DVD went on to sell over a million copies and over 700,000 copies on VHS.
The story of the Z-Boys even inspired the making of the 2005 feature film “Lords of Dogtown” starring Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch, John Robinson and Victor Rasuk, a film (that was inspired by actual events but dramatized for the big screen) that would spotlight the beginning and the end of the Zephyr skateboard team but how Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta went on to become successful in their own way .
With the popularity of “Dogtown and Z-Boys” on VHS and DVD, the documentary now receives its HD release on Blu-ray.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“Dogtown and Z-Boys” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1) Full Screen. It’s important to emphasize that this documentary is not one to expect awesome picture quality.
For one, this documentary was created back in 2001 and footage featured ranges from the 1950’s through the early 1980’s and modern footage from 2001 (featured in black and white). The documentary is in full screen, so you will see black bars at the sides. Also, this documentary does bring out the noise and minimal dust and some artifacting from certain classic scenes.
But the excitement of this documentary release is watching it for the vintage footage of old school Venice, surfing crews and what took place at Jeff Ho’s surf shop to old school footage of the skateboard team skating at their various school hangouts to skate or at the pool. But also footage from skateboard competitions and more.
And I will say that the vintage footage does look much better on Blu-ray than on DVD. There are quite a good number of classic footage that looks very good despite being shot on a home video camera in the mid-70’s.
As for the audio, audio is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Dialogue is center channel driven and is clear while the front channels showcases classic rock music from Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, David Bowie, the Stooges, Peter Frampton and more.
There is some use of the surround channels, may it be subtle sounds of waves or certain sound effects but this documentary is all about the dialogue and music and for the most part, lossless audio is quite satisfactory for this documentary.
Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and Hindi.
“Dogtown and Z-Boys” comes with the following special features featured in Standard and High Definition. English Stereo and subtitles in English. Included are:
- Audio Commentary — Audio commentary by director Stacy Peralta and editor Paul Crowder. A really good commentary as Peralta talks about the challenges of making the documentary, reuniting with old friends but also meeting up with Jay Adams and more.
- The State of Pool Skaters with Tony Alva and Bucky Lasek —(13:25) Exclusive to this Blu-ray release of “Dogtown and Z-Boys”, Tony Alva talks about how he still skates every week and how he continues to skate in pools. Bucky Lasek talks about having a large vert-sized 14 ft. deep pool built for skating and how pool skating has changed today.
- Tony Alva Art Show —(3:31) Exclusive to this Blu-ray release of “Dogtown and Z-Boys”, Tony Alva’s art gallery for “Die Poser Die” and interviews with Tony Alva and fellow artists/skateboarding friends Jeff Ho, Steve Caballero, Chris Patras, Steve Olson, Lance Mountain and Christian Hosoi who talk about their artwork.
- Alva 2000 Alternate Ending – (3:03) Footage of Tony Alva hanging out with local skaters and taking part in pool sessions and showing us that he can still skate.
- Craig Stecyk Deleted Scene – (3:26) A scene that was cut from the final cut of the film featuring Craig Stecyk and more classic photography.
- That Question Sucked – (:28) Not exactly a blooper reel but people interviewed who didn’t dig the question being asked to them.
- Extend “Raw” Skate Footage – While watching “Dogtown and Z-Boys”, a red Zephyr icon will show up and if you click enter on your remote, the documentary will pause and showcase several minutes of “raw” skate footage.
- Lords of Dogtown Webisodes -(5:58) Director Catherine Hardwick introducing the webisodes for “Lords of Dogtown” featuring behind-the-scenes making of the film.
- Bicknell Hill Session – Featuring a photography montage from Patrick Darrin back in the early 1970’s.
- Jeff Ho 2000 – (1:54) Video footage of Stacy Peralta visiting Jeff Ho in Hawaii (there is no audio with this footage).
- Mar Vista 2000 – (2:35) During the filming of the documentary, Stacy Peralta and people of the film crew would grab their skateboard during breaks and just skate.
- Previews – Trailers for upcoming or currently available Sony Pictures releases.
- BD-Live Enabled
“Dogtown and Z-Boys” is documentary that spotlights the Z-Boys aka the Zephyr team who literally revolutionized skateboarding with an aggressive in-your-face style that shredded the competition. Growing up in the 1970’s, the documentary is blessed with old school footage (that is great quality compared to many surfing films that came out in the early 90’s) that I just kept repeating… “sick”.
The documentary shows the kids skating as well as a few classic clips of other competitors of skateboarding in the 50’s and 60’s and how the Z-Boys just came in and shattered the image of what skateboarding was all about with their freestyle surfing way on a skateboard. Also, footage of the group skating in emptied pools brought upon the California drought and how the friends became rivals as skateboard manufacturers started to offer contracts and get a hold of a Z-Boy and make money off them. Naturally, the talents of the kids of that time earned them great money but not all were able to overcome the limelight that introduced a few to drugs and hard times.
From the awesome freestyle of Jay Adams, the competitor and uber talented Tony Alva (aka godfather of skateboarding) and talented Stacy Peralta (who gone on to create Powell-Peralta Skateboards, the Bones Brigade which led to some guy named Tony Hawk), we are reminded of what these three and other members of the Zephyr team brought to skateboarding.
My favorite part of the film which I can’t stop watching is the 1975 Del Mar Invitational where people saw the Zephyr team debut and saw a new style that no one has seen before. What makes it even more exciting was the footage of the skateboarding competitors of that time and then the entrance of the Zephyr team and seeing how the competitors were frustrated by the Zephyr team.
That was a definite, classic moment in my opinion from yesteryear and to see the footage today is just incredible. The documentary features awesome footage of the group and competitions combined with a cool soundtrack, cool interviews of most of the Zephyr Competition Team and a lot of cool, in-depth information of the past and what happened to the members of the team now. Suffice to say that this film has done really well on the film festival circuit especially at Sundance and AFI and Stacy Peralta continues to show his talent as a director.
For the Blu-ray release of “Dogtown and Z-Boys”, the HD version does make the vintage footage look much better but as mentioned, certain artifacts, dust and noise are also more evident as well. But personally, when it comes to classic home video footage, you don’t expect anything significant in picture quality and if anything, these classic moments are like a time capsule of that time and era. Audio definitely benefits from the lossless audio soundtrack, so the classic music is much more defined. And you get two Blu-ray exclusives with this latest release.
But assuming you owned the original DVD release and the deluxe edition, you may be wondering if it’s all worth it to purchase all over again on Blu-ray. For me, it is worth it because I enjoyed this documentary and if I can have the documentary with its best presentation video and audio-wise, for me… it’s worth it. Also, you do get two new special features but if you aren’t the type who cares for special features or if you don’t own a home theater system, then you’re pretty much good with the original DVD release.
Overall, “Dogtown and Z-Boys” is one of my favorite documentaries that featured surf and skate culture of the 1970’s and it captures a time and era featuring the Zephyr Competition Team who set the bar high for skateboarding at the time and also help create the synergy that would later become this big competitive sport and hobby that is today.
If you don’t own it on DVD and have a Blu-ray player, “Dogtown and Z-Boys” is definitely worth catching on Blu-ray!
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