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Shaun of the Dead(2004)
A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend and reconciling his relationship with his mother. Oh, and fighting off the entire town that has returned from the dead to eat the living.
For more about Shaun of the Dead and the Shaun of the Dead Blu-ray release, see Shaun of the Dead Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 29, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis, Bill Nighy
» See full cast & crew
Shaun of the Dead Blu-ray Review
Blu-ray breathes life into this 'Dead' favorite.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 29, 2009
Next time I see him, he's dead.
Ah, the foreshadowing, the irony, the gut-busting humor. That quote above perfectly encapsulates Shaun of the Dead, a brilliant Parody/Horror/Comedy picture from the creative talent behind the follow-up Hot Fuzz, itself a superior Parody film with many of the same attributes that makes Shaun such a rip-roaring success. Indeed, Shaun of the Dead paints a masterpiece of cinema in which every frame has something substantive to offer, at least within the realms of the several genres it populates. Laughs, scares, violence, and gore are found throughout, of course, but what makes it so good is that, despite its winks, nods, and outright lampooning of the Zombie genre, it works fantastically as a standalone film even for those audiences that aren't intimately familiar with the world of Zombie pictures, and George Romero's collection in particular. Even then, it's still quite funny in a grotesque sort of way, and that's what makes Shaun (and Hot Fuzz, for that matter) so charming; it takes a frightening subject and Horror movie staple and turns it on its head with an assault of humor that lightens the mood considerably but doesn't once take away from the intensity of the plot; the appeal of the characters; the urgency and hopelessness of the predicament in which they find themselves; or most importantly, its take on society as it slowly rots away, creeping towards becoming a collection of undead automatons.
Shaun's (Simon Pegg, Star Trek) life isn't quite the definition of "perfect." He works a dead-end job at an electronics store with co-workers almost half his age; he's losing his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) over his inability to take their relationship to the next level, a problem that stems from his desire to hang out with his loser of a roommate Ed (Nick Frost, Hot Fuzz) and insistence that they spend most every evening at his favorite pub, Winchester's; his other roommate, Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), is unhappy with Ed's lack of contribution to the house and Shaun's continued defense of his friend's bad habits; and he's engaged in a years-long riff with his stepfather Philip (Bill Nighy) with his loving mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton) caught in the middle. Just when it seems Shaun's life couldn't get any more complicated, it does; he's just so involved in his own affairs that he can't see the problems plaguing the world until they literally arrive in his backyard. It turns out the locals are turning into zombies, and they're on the prowl for living flesh to devour. Shaun and Ed devise a plan to save the day, or at least those they care about; they'll rescue Shaun's mother from Philip who may be turning into a zombie, grab Liz and her friends, and head on down to -- where else -- Winchester's to ride out the storm. There's just one problem: the zombies are everywhere. Can Shaun, Ed, and gang survive long enough to live it up in their favorite bar one final time?
As with Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead works well because it smartly -- sometimes gently and sometimes bluntly, depending on what the situation calls for -- incorporates the elements of parody into a script that takes the time to create an entire world and develop a collection of primary characters that bring everything together. Unlike the bulk of Parody films that flood theaters these days, Shaun of the Dead -- and to the same extent Hot Fuzz -- ensure the parody works in a context that makes sense rather than just wedging it into some loose and meaningless series of events meant only to fill in some time between jokes. Just as importantly, the primary actors do an excellent job in conveying all of the nuances the script calls for, particularly with regard to the film's most obvious yet most important parody of the Zombie genre -- the take that everyone's a zombies in one form or another; it's just that most have no craving for human flesh and can't continue on with a gaping hole in the gut. The word "zombie" can almost be exchanged for "slave," at least insofar as it pertains to its usage in Shaun of the Dead. Shaun is a slave to suffering, or so it seams, standing up for Ed's lazy ways and seemingly unable to break out of the mold that has Liz ready to split up with him. He's not at all confident (he has yet to introduce his girl to his mother) and puts on a façade at work that removes from him his true personality and vigor in favor of (attempting) to fit in with his co-workers. Ed's a slave to laziness and gluttony, fixated on video games and finding answers to his -- and Shaun's -- problems at the bottom of a stein.
Shaun of the Dead's none-too-subtle portrayal of all humankind as a collection of zombies -- some admittedly further along in the process than others -- is a direct reflection of the overt sub-context that defines the end-all, be-all Zombie movie masterpiece, George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. In that film, mankind is depicted as being a slave to consumerism, and the zombie's attraction to the mall, it is assumed, stems not from their detection of a band of survivors holed up in the offices above the main mall, but in some innate instinct that draws them back to a place that served as an important part of their lives. In Shaun of the Dead, the notion is updated and reflected in Ed's slovenly ways as he remains transfixed on his video game, or in Shaun's reluctance to use some of his favorite vinyl records last resort weapons for survival. Without sacrificing the film's ending, the final seconds only reinforce these observations and solidifies the film's message on humanity's slowly decaying ways.
Shaun of the Dead Blu-ray, Video Quality
Shaun of the Dead comes alive on Blu-ray with a nice looking 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. Although it's not quite as superb as Hot Fuzz, it's still a standout transfer in most regards and should satisfy the film's fan base. The opening minutes in the pub look a bit overly sharp and processed, a trait that carries over the film's third act as well. It doesn't look bad, but it's not quite as natural and film-like as the daytime scenes that make up the bulk of the first and second acts. Those exterior shots take on a tremendous sense of depth and are intricately detailed across the board, with the usual suspects -- clothing, faces, vegetation, and brick-and-mortar -- all looking fabulous. Colors, too, are natural and eye-catching. Grain isn't to be found in abundance; many may not even notice it on smaller displays and at normal viewing distances. It does spike a few times inside the pub in the third act, particularly over the dark backgrounds which themselves sometimes appear overly bright and unnatural. Flesh tones don't appear as overly problematic, though they stray towards a slight golden/reddish tint here and there. All said, however, Shaun of the Dead makes for a solid, above-average Blu-ray transfer.
Shaun of the Dead Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Shaun of the Dead moans on Blu-ray via a strong DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The track features a robust surround presentation that hurls music and sound effects into the listening area with authority, accompanied in their presentation by a hefty amount of bass that several times throughout rattles the floorboards. The track also features a good deal of ambience in outdoor scenes; dogs bark in the distance or a car alarm wails up the street. Directional effects also impress, for instance the sound of a car passing through the soundstage delivers a seamless sense of movement from one area to another. A musical scene in chapter 10 might be the most impressive of the entire mix as it blares out notes at an aggressive volume but also retains a clarity that adds a fine sense of realism to the moment. Of course, the film's action sequences are also first-rate. There's not nearly as much gun play in Shaun of the Dead as there is in Hot Fuzz, but the sounds of violence that populate the film's final act -- including the moaning and stumbling along of a horde of undead -- completes the scene and brings it to chilling life. Also delivering suitably clear dialogue reproduction, Shaun of the Dead generally sounds fantastic on Blu-ray.
Shaun of the Dead Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Shaun of the Dead infects Blu-ray with a heaping helping of bonus materials, headlined by a quartet of commentary tracks. The first, featuring Actor/Writer Simon Pegg and Writer/Director Edgar Wright, is the most balanced of them all. Though it takes on an incredibly humorous tone with some true laugh-out-loud moments and even some obviously tongue-in-cheek observations, the duo deliver a track that also includes plenty of insight into the film. Funny and informative, it's often as comical as the movie and is a required listen as one of the best tracks out there. Track two features Pegg along with fellow actors Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Kate Ashfield, and Lucy Davis. As a group commentary, it takes on a non-too-serous tone but it's not quite as gut-busting as the first. The insights don't delve into too much information that's actually crucial to understanding the background of the picture and the behind-the-scenes goings-on, but it's nevertheless a skim-worthy effort that fans might want to sample. Actors Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton -- who play Shaun's parents in the film -- man the third track. It's the driest and least entertaining of the four with plenty of dead air but a few good observations that also makes it worthy of a skimming listen. Finally, track four features the film's zombies, a collection of background characters that play zombies throughout the film. Like the other group effort, this one takes on a none-too-serious tone that offers some witty observations, many of which lead to tangents that don't necessarily address the film's more crucial elements but make for interesting discussions nevertheless.
Shaun of the Dead is also U-Control enabled. Storyboards superimposes a collection scene-specific storyboards over the image; these boards are also available as a separate supplement (see below). Zomb-o-Meter is a pop-up trivia track. Moving past the U-Control features, viewers will find Missing Bits, a collection of extras that begins with Extended Bits (480p, 13:28), a collection of 15 scenes with extended footage and optional filmmaker commentary. The Man Who Would Be Shaun (480p, 0:35) is a brief and humorous back-and-forth on the set between Pegg and Frost. Funky Pete (480p, 2:04) is an alternate take form the film with a prodigious use of the word "funk." Plot Holes (480p, 3:27) fills in the gaps behind some of the film's scenes with narration and a collection of hand-drawn images. Rounding out Missing Bits is a collection of outtakes (480p, 10:47). Moving along, Raw Meet is a collection of eight short extras, all presented in 480p standard definition: Simon Pegg's Video Diary (6:44), Lucy Davis' Video Diary (5:05), Joe Cornish's Video Diary (10:16), Casting Tapes (4:12), Edgar & Simon's Flip Chart (13:36), SFX Comparison (2:25), Make-up Tests (2:20), and EPK Featurette (7:10).
TV Tidbits (480p) is a great little piece that shows, in full, some of the background television footage as seen in the film. Segments include T4 With Coldplay (4:21), Fun Dead (1:05), Trisha -- Your Nine Lives Are Up (1:26), Trisha -- I Married a Monster (1:31), and Remembering Z Day (2:32). Zombie Gallery is a collection of three graphical collections: Photo Gallery, 2000 AD Strip, and Poster Designs. Storyboard Gallery prompts viewers to press the "enter" button on remote controls when a particular icon appears on-screen to access the feature; doing so stops the movie and displays a collection of storyboards as they pertain to the current scene in the film. Also included is a collection of 480p trailers: US Trailer (2:29), UK Teaser Trailer (1:39), UK Trailer (1:50), a pair of UK TV spots (0:22 & 0:23), and the Fright Fest Trailer (1:30). This Blu-ray release of Shaun of the Dead is also BD-Live enabled, accessible under the "What's New" tab on the main menu screen, and D-Box equipped.
Shaun of the Dead Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Shaun of the Dead, like Pegg's follow-up film Hot Fuzz, nails its material but at the same time creates a superb standalone picture that works even for those that might not get the nuanced or, in some cases, even the overreaching parody that populates the film. Seeing as it gets most of its material from Romero's Dawn of the Dead, it incorporates a similar overreaching theme of humanity-as-zombie-lite, a collection of slowly deteriorating slaves to some aspect of life that seems to drain them not necessarily of their base intelligence or motor functions but, much worse, their souls. With plenty of laughs and gore along the way, Shaun of the Dead makes for a new classic motion picture that's sure to continue entertaining audience for decades to come. Universal's Blu-ray release is stellar. Though it's not quite up to the same level of absolute excellence as Hot Fuzz, it comes close. Shaun features a high quality 1080p transfer, an even better lossless soundtrack, and a thorough collection of extras. Of course, it comes highly recommended.
Shaun of the Dead: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with Shaun of the Dead (2 bundles)
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• Today on Blu-ray - September 22nd - September 22, 2009
Over the past decade, spoof films have become somewhat of a Hollywood sure-thing. If you're all out of unique idea, call up a Wayans brother and ask them to star in a spoof of the latest hot property (look for 'Vampire Movie' next summer – just kidding – I hope). ...
• Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Grace Out Now, Exclusively at Best Buy - August 25, 2009
Best Buy continues to secure timed exclusives on Blu-ray. Universal's 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz' (officially slated for release on September 22) and Anchor Bay's 'Grace' (announced for September 15) are already available to purchase at that retailer, ...
• Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz BDs Get Detailed - July 1, 2009
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has officially announced and detailed the Blu-ray release of 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz', which are due to hit stores on September 22. Each title will come in a BD-50, with 2.35:1 1080p video and a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio ...
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