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Something is infecting the citizens of Ogden Marsh with insanity. Now complete anarchy reigns as one by one the townsfolk succumb to an unknown toxin and turn sadistically violent.
For more about The Crazies and the The Crazies Blu-ray release, see the The Crazies Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 3, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker, Christie Lynn Smith, Glenn Morshower
Director: Breck Eisner
» See full cast & crew
The Crazies Blu-ray Review
This worthy remake scares up a wonderful Blu-ray presentation.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 3, 2010
This town is dead and it's not coming back.
In some corners, The Crazies would be referred to as a depiction of a "SHTF" situation, meaning that something's gone terribly wrong -- society has broken down; few can be trusted; danger lurks around every corner; guns, ammunition, and water become cherished commodities; and only those with either a lot of luck or skilled in survival techniques are likely to make it through the event alive. It's become a popular sub-genre in recent years, with films like 28 Days Later, 2012, I Am Legend, and the remake of Zombie Maestro George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead charging into theaters and engrossing audiences with depictions of civilizations on the brink. The same concept holds true with The Crazies. It, too, is a remake of a Romero movie of the same name; his version of The Crazies is probably his best-known film outside of anything with "...of the Dead" in the title. Slick, intense, fairly predictable, but loads of fun, this modern-day retelling of The Crazies proves itself to be a rare creature; it's a worthy remake that's arguably superior to the original and, if nothing else, it makes for a very good time at the movies.
The small Iowa town of Ogden Marsh is a cozy, close-knit community. Spring weather means baseball, and the town is abuzz with hardball fever. Everything's hunky-dory until a game is interrupted by a man who wanders onto the outfield grass -- armed with a shotgun. Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant, Live Free or Die Hard) confronts him, but reason and logic fail; the man with the shotgun raises his weapon, but David manages to shoot and kill him first. The town is in a daze; the shooting is a surreal event that's pierced the otherwise tranquil setting, but little do the denizens of Ogden Marsh know that there's more -- much more -- to come. It's believed the man was drunk, but when the toxicology reports show otherwise, it would seem that the mystery is only bound to intensify. It's soon forgotten, however, as more and more people begin exhibiting symptoms similar to those that plagued the man who wandered onto the baseball field. It doesn't take long before the town falls into a state of disarray, and the confusion and chaos are only furthered when the military arrives with orders to quarantine the town and kill any and all who resist. David, his wife Judy (Radha Mitchell, Pitch Black), and his deputy Russell Clank (Joe Anderson) must not only piece together the mysterious happenings inside Ogden Marsh, but fight for their very lives against an increasingly hostile military, a crazed populace, and an unseen enemy that threatens to turn them into whatever it is that their friends and family have already become.
When analyzing a movie like The Crazies, there are two obvious avenues of examination that factor into determining how well it works. The first, and most important, is the question of how well-made and entertaining it is on its own merits, while the second, and somewhat less crucial but certainly not irrelevant element, is how close to or respectful of the source material it is. As to the first, The Crazies is borderline crazy-good. Forget that it's not at all original; it's a remake of a cult-classic picture that's several decades old, and it's awfully reliant on genre cliché to get from start to finish. The Crazies manages to work in spite of these potential roadblocks and stumbling points out of sheer will and determination to entertain and visually dazzle its viewers. The result is a picture that's so slick and, more importantly, fun, that even the dreaded predictability and influx of generic plot advancement elements can't slow it down. Yes, even through the almost laughably-transparent plot devices (someone's about to die, but a hero barges into the room and shoots the bad guy at the last second) and painfully-predictable story arcs (including the unsurprising "gotcha!" final shot), The Crazies works as mindless entertainment at its very best. Director Breck Eisner juggles the balance between glossy entertainment and dumbed-down story very well. His direction is incredibly flashy and taut, his action scenes well-constrcuted, and his actors all turn in surprisingly energized physical performances. These positives more than make up for the picture's greatest negative: a total lack of emotional or thematic resonance.
2010's The Crazies works best when watched for sheer entertainment purposes; the slick veneer and well-staged action will keep genre fans glued to the screen, but unlike Romero's vision of the story, there's nothing under the surface to further intensify the picture beyond its glossy sheen. Romero's picture -- much like his "Dead" films -- is slathered in social commentary; Eisner's focuses far less on the hows and whys of the military, government, and scientific responses to the event and more on the individuals effected by it at ground level. In a way, Eisner's approach proves more engaging for the average viewer for its ability to further the senses of confusion, despair, anger, and frustration at the unfolding events, lending to the movie a more on-the-gorund, driven-by-reality experience that makes it a more personal and dangerous experience. That style comes with more action and glitz but at the expense of the biting satire that's found in Romero's picture, but both movies prove that either approach, done right, can yield different but equally effective results. This version of the film doesn't feel hollow for the absence of sly commentary; it's an action-driven picture that works on its own level, the film built on a taut and glossy veneer but also a showcase for the raw and gritty violence of a world gone to hell. One of the film's greatest attributes is its pacing; it's a fast watch, and unlike plenty of other genre pictures, it gets off to a fast start and never relents. The picture spends only a few minutes establishing its setting and characters before opening with a bang that resonates throughout the entire movie and sets a grisly tone for all that's to follow. Additionally, The Crazies boasts of some good acting that's at a level not often found in movies of this sort; the venerable Timothy Olyphant disappears into his role and plays the town sheriff with an authority but also a sense of fear and acceptance of the stark realities around him wonderfully. It's not an Oscar-level effort, but for a movie like this, it's solid gold.
The Crazies Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Crazies arrives on Blu-ray with a strongly-realized 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. Although this transfer doesn't really stand out from the pack of near-reference quality images, it's gorgeous through and through, just not to an extent that it dazzles beyond the expected level of brilliance for a new release 1080p Blu-ray. The image is wonderful in all the right places; detail excels throughout the movie, from seams and stitches in clothing to the visible wear on various firearms. Facial textures look slightly flat in places, but the image appears glossy by nature; it's certainly not a rough-and-tumble type, and the picture's grain structure is decidedly minimal with only a few scenes exhibiting a thick-by-comparison veneer. Colors are stable, appearing neither excessively dull nor unnaturally vibrant, and flesh tones retain a pleasantly neutral shade. The image is sharp and crisp, not all that perceptibly deep, but it is free of any dirt or debris. Likewise, banding and blocking are absent, though very slight aliasing is visible on some of the large silver silos seen throughout the movie. Blacks are fantastic, some of the finest around, perfectly dark and nicely displayed, and never appearing too bright or crushing out details that should be visible in-frame. The Crazies looks great through-and-through; it's not a show-stopper, but videophiles should be very pleased with latest effort from Starz/Anchor Bay/Overture.
The Crazies Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Crazies infects Blu-ray with a fantastic PCM 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack. The picture's opening flash-forward shot features a full-fledged surround presentation, and such aggressive elements carry on through the remainder of the movie. The following baseball scene features light crowd noise spilling from every speaker with a subtle but nicely-enveloping and realistic flair that one might expect of a small-town game with but dozens of fans in attendance. There's an almost seamless sense of space to the track; it's never cramped as sounds flow to every corner of the soundstage and reinforce the movie's music, atmosphere, and action effects. The track excels in its delivery of minor ambience; later outdoor scenes come alive with the small but critically-important sounds of nature that immerse the listener into the environments, but for as good as the track is in this area, its more action-oriented elements prove to be the bread-and-butter of The Crazies' sonic experience. Bass is impeccably deep and tight; a few explosions in the film powerfully -- and literally -- rock the soundstage with an impressive amount of authority. Gunshots are suitably clear and each is accompanied by a good deal of power, with shotgun blasts in particular sending a devastating percussion through the listening area. On the downside, a sequence inside a working car wash isn't quite as convincing as one might hope, but there's otherwise little room for complaint with this track. Listeners with quality sound systems will be amazed at how much like a high-quality movie theater listen this one delivers. The Crazies is another strong sonic offering of a new release film from Overture Films.
The Crazies Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Crazies arrives on Blu-ray with a wide assortment of extras, the collection headlined by an audio commentary track with Director Breck Eisner. Eisner delivers a highly listenable, well-spoken, and insightful commentary track that fans should enjoy; he speaks on the history of the project, his desire to tell the story from the perspective of the town's survivors, the project's journey from studio to studio, shooting on a tight budget, the portrayal of the military in the film, the complexities of life and how they are reflected in the film, the work of the actors, the implementation of special effects, shooting locations, and plenty more. Behind the Scenes with Director Breck Eisner (1080p, 10:35) actually features not only the director, but several additional cast and crew speaking on the picture's themes, the making of the movie, the work of Director Breck Eisner and the primary cast, the challenges of the shoot, and crafting the special effects. Next is Paranormal Pandemics (1080p, 9:41), a piece that takes a closer look at the film's makeup effects and the importance of keeping them grounded in some semblance of reality.
The George A. Romero Template (1080p, 9:56) features several Horror gurus and several The Crazies cast and crew reflecting on Romero's career. Make-Up Mastermind: Rob Hall in Action (1080p, 11:27) takes viewers behind-the-scenes of the picture's extensive makeup effects. Next up are episodes one (14:40) and two (12:44) of 'The Crazies' Motion Comic (1080p). Visual Effects in Motion (1080p, 3:42) showcases several special effects-laden scenes in various stages of completion. Storyboards: Building a Scene (1080p) is a compilation of hand-drawn storyboards for one of the film's crucial scenes. Also included is a behind-the-scenes photo gallery (1080p); The Crazies' teaser (1080p, 0:42) and theatrical (1080p, 2:32 & 2:00) trailers; a trailer for The Crazies Motion Comic (1080p, 2:23); and additional 1080p trailers for Brooklyn's Finest, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," Pandorum, Law Abiding Citizen, and The Ultimate Fighting Championships. Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of The Crazies, and in a rare move for a Starz/Anchor Bay title, it's iTunes/Mac compatible. Sampled on a Gen-2 iPod Touch, the picture quality is pleasantly stable with good detailing and colors, though it does suffer from some intermittent and occasionally heavy blocking. The sound is suitably rich and nicely spaced between the two channels with relatively strong sound effects, though dialogue is fairly tinny.
The Crazies Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Crazies is a rare breed: it's a remake that works and a movie that's absent any real originality, but one that still delivers a tense and exciting experience. It's craftily-directed, slick, and fast-paced; the acting is strong; the action is well-staged; and most importantly for a Survival/Action/Horror picture, The Crazies is just a blast to watch. Eisner's film lacks the social commentary and raw, gritty tone of Romero's picture, but it excels past that film with a smoother fit and finish, more action, and superior special effects. Those tired of and worn out by lesser remakes should give The Crazies a try; it's better than most. Starz/Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of The Crazies serves up a superior technical presentation while featuring a quality assortment of extras. Highly recommended.
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Amazon has an interesting BD-related "lightning deal" going on now: for a very limited time, you can buy the three-movie set Thrills and Chills Horror Blu-ray Bundle (comprised of The Crazies, Pandorum and The New Daughter) for only $40.99 (59% off MSRP). This ...
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