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Two men have found a way to survive a world overrun by zombies. Columbus is a big wuss -- but when you're afraid of being eaten by zombies, fear can keep you alive. Tallahassee is an AK-totin', zombie-slayin' badass whose single determination is to get the last Twinkie on earth. As they join forces with Wichita and Little Rock, who have also found unique ways to survive the zombie mayhem, they will have to determine which is worse: relying on each other or succumbing to the zombies.
For more about Zombieland and the Zombieland Blu-ray release, see Zombieland Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on January 19, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Bill Murray
Director: Ruben Fleischer
» See full cast & crew
Zombieland Blu-ray Review
"This land is my land, this land is Zombie land."
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, January 19, 2010
This is now the United States of Zombieland.
Poor zombies. All they want to do is eat, and they're slaughtered for it. The living dead crave a liver, the dying living crave a Twinkie. Is there no justice? Is there any difference? Dead is dead is dead is dead. Livers, Twinkies, at the end of the day, it's all about clogged arteries, rotting flesh, and decay. So Zombies might not want to live off of Twinkies and Cokes. To them, it's all about the protein. Good for them. But come on, flesh fresh off the bone? Strings of sinew? Miles of intestines? Liters of blood? Somewhere along in the transformation process, these poor, hungry Zombies have lost the art of French cooking. Raw this, bloody that, where's Julia Child when she's needed the most? Just imagine the possibilities, Zombies. Remember the pleasures of pepper? That old staple salt? Or how about some rich, creamy butter? One can never have too much butter. Julia said so herself. Well, there's something to be said for consuming raw and bloody meat. A rough-and-tumble man's meal, for sure, but for the Zombies of the world, a feast fit for the fairer sex, too. Zombies: equal opportunity carnivores. Isn't it ironic, though, that zombies eat to live, not live to eat. Survival 101, right? But wait! Zombies are the prized prey of self-proclaimed "survivalists" the world over, those brave and unwavering highly-trained Zombie killin' spesh'lists with an airsoft M-16, a six-turned-two pack of Bud, a 54" waist, and an Internet connection in their mama's basement. So the creatures most likely to go out of their way -- like climbing up an amusement park ride or braving to waltz under that perilously-hanging piano in front of the doorway just for a chance at a bite to eat -- to survive are the targets of armchair commandos that see poor little hungry undead-ites that just want a bite of that last finger (it's likin' good!) as their mortal enemies. What oh what has the world come to? It's survival of the fittest out there, to be sure. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. Pass that kidney.
Well, it wasn't always like this. The good old U.S. of A. was once a peaceful place; just ask Officer Alex Murphy. But now, after something or another did something or another to some people, folks are turning into Zombies and the country's bleeding out like Clarence Boddicker with a middle-finger knife through the neck. OK, so Robocop has nothing to do with this, but anyway. There's this guy who calls himself "Columbus" (Jesse Eisenberg, Adventureland) -- or at least he's known as "Columbus" -- and he's a survivor. He has no skills with the ladies, but he's a level 67 Paladin in World of Warcraft. What he does have are brains (Shhh, don't tell the Zombies), and he's written down a list to live by in this time of upheaval so he doesn't forget to peek into bathroom stalls or fire an extra round into some Zombie's cranium to make sure they're as dead as...someone not from Robocop. On his way from Austin to Columbus to find out if his family's eating brisket or brains, he meets "Tallahassee" (Woody Harrelson, 2012), a lone wanderer with some exceptional Zombie-killing skills and a craving for Twinkies. The only living souls they've seen in quite some time, the two pair up and are ultimately humiliated by a couple of con-artist teenagers, "Wichita" (Emma Stone, The House Bunny) and "Little Rock" (Abigail Breslin, Nim's Island). With the girls now in charge, the boys' plans to head east are discarded in favor of a trip to California's Pacific Playland, an amusement park that the girls believe to be Zombie-free.
It's rather appropriate that Zombieland's destination is an amusement park, because the movie's nothing but fun, fun, fun, and some more fun from beginning to end. Horror and Zombie fanatics know that this is something straight up their allies, but what other potential viewers might not realize is that Zombieland's got something for everybody. Amidst the language and violence is a love story, a road trip, and an outrageous amount of comedy that's every bit as funny as Shaun of the Dead but this film not particularly concerned with, or earning most of its jokes from, parody. Zombieland follows -- and has some fun with -- Zombie movie convention, but the point of the picture isn't to lampoon the genre but rather to breathe new life into it, to lend to it a 21st century edge with its own identity and set of goals but with the basics of Zombie lore in mind. Zombieland has more in common with the Dawn of the Dead remake than it does with any of George Romero's pictures, though only on a superficial level and considering the updated modern setting and fast, as opposed to lumbering, Zombies. Aiming more for a combination action/humor quotient and foregoing much in the way of social commentary that even Shaun incorporated into the picture, Zombieland is more a modern "what if?" movie with a hearty funny bone that's an adventure unto itself, the film fresh and accessible with every scene, never once feeling cumbersome, excessively outrageous, overly grotesque, or in the least bit serious. Gone, it seems, are the wonderful but far heavier days of Romero's Dead films; Zombieland just oozes ingenuity, and what makes it so exceptionally good is its simple approach that's never bogged down by anything that's not relevant to the experience or in some way new and noteworthy in the annals of the storied and quickly ascending-in-popularity Horror sub-genre.
In addition to an infinitely clever script that with every line of dialogue plays out as a genre fan's magnum opus -- a movie made for movie lovers of the Zombie kind -- Zombieland enjoys incredible visuals and a much-needed sense of realism to sell the bill of goods and put the finishing touches on one of the genre's best efforts in years. The film features exceptionally-realized production values that lend to it a seamless post-apocalyptic, Zombie-infested feel. Toppled and wrecked cars, charred remains of vehicles, random body parts, and plenty of debris seem like standard stuff but are wonderfully placed throughout. Additionally, Zombieland lives up to its namesake with rather standard-looking but certainly visually-impressive dead dudes; dripping blood and random gore are impressively realized in every appropriate scene. The film feels far bigger than it is, its world wholly convincing and massively impressive given its comparatively small budget. Indeed, Zombieland seems to get the most out of every avenue, whether the sets, special effects, script, acting, direction, and anything and everything in between. However, there's one factor that supersedes all others, and that's the combination of an excellent script that's perfectly realized by the film's quartet of lead actors. The characters are wholly original, their personalities rather unique, and the performers injecting a lifeblood and comic timing into the roles that are equally impeccable in delivery. The film works so well because the Harrelson and Eisenberg characters are truly opposites in every regard, the former a tough, no-nonsense, crazy-brave hero and the latter a shy, by-the-book, regimental sort that's survived more on guile and smarts than brawn and courage. They're a superb tandem, and are developed and supported further by a fine pair of femme foils that prove both cunning and charming throughout the picture. If there's a downside, it's that the film loses just a touch of its momentum in the final act and beyond its surprise guest star, but other than a runtime that's almost perfect for a film like this but still feels almost depressingly short considering how good the film is and how it makes such wonderful use of its time, there's nary a flaw to be found in a picture that will undoubtedly solidify itself as one of the quintessential Zombie movies in short order.
Zombieland Blu-ray, Video Quality
Zombieland dazzles with a consistently excellent 1080p, 2.39:1-framed transfer that's borderline visual perfection. Shot digitally, the image is smooth and lacking in background noise, lending to the picture a clean and exceptionally clear glossy exterior that houses plenty of intricately-rendered detail throughout. The film features several slow-motion shots that showcase breathtaking levels of fine detail, whether shattered glass or globs of blood, bile, and general carnage. Even 24 fps shots dazzle with rich textures on pavement, blades of grass and weeds that are so fine as to be able to be counted, and the general world of Zombieland and all its devastation -- rubble, bodies, charred cars, and the like -- are precisely detailed. Black levels are consistently deep and inky with only a few scenes seeming a bit overwhelming and swallowing some finer details. Additionally, flesh tones retain an accurate tint throughout. Colors are exceptionally vibrant. Whether the brighter shades of a yellow sweatshirt or the H2 Hummer that features prominently in the film or any number of other hues seen throughout, Zombieland sparkles with a natural but eye-popping visual tone that suits the film's fun and morbidly cheery style perfectly. Though the film often features a strong sense of depth, some darker shots do tend to look rather flat. Additionally, minute banding is visible in a couple of shots, and one or two images appear slightly less sharp than the rest. All said, these are but minor quibbles in what is otherwise an impeccable transfer from Sony.
Zombieland Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Zombieland arrives on Blu-ray with a nicely-balanced DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack that's of high quality across the entire spectrum. The film boasts exceptionally-realized power during action scenes, a reserved atmosphere that's nevertheless wholly engulfing and aurally satisfying, and handles all the material in between with ease. Music enjoys exceptional clarity throughout, with a hard rock number as heard over the title sequence blaring from the speakers with pinpoint accuracy and an aggressive but natural flow that allows for the precise reproduction of every note and penetrating guitar riff. Sound spreads evenly about the soundstage; Zombieland's DTS track is spacious and natural, never confined to any single speaker or section of the listening area but instead creating a seamless 360-degree sonic environment. Ambience is exceptionally represented; buzzing insects, for instance, invade the listening area with a realism that's second-to-none, and overhead fluorescent lights hum naturally in another scene. Such are but examples of the track's impressive ability to immerse its listeners in each and every environment presented throughout, but the track also shines when it comes time to open up on some Zombies. Gunfire -- shotguns feature prominently in the film -- offer a natural, loud crack that's of exceptional sonic value, whether fired in the great outdoors and allowed to linger or when fired inside a cramped structure that offers an altogether different aural signature. Additionally, a solid "thump" accompanies rounds impacting flesh. Also featuring the expectedly pitch-perfect dialogue reproduction, Zombieland offers an all-around exceptional listen on Blu-ray.
Zombieland Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray release of Zombieland comes with a meaty supplemental package that's fit for consumption. First up is the Beyond the Graveyard Picture-in-Picture Track, a nicely produced secondary video track that features a myriad of topics and participants. The track showcases the construction of various scenes both with and without cast and crew commentary, showing scenes in various stages of filmed and digital production, raw behind-the-scenes footage, storyboards, cast and crew interview snippets, and much more. Also included is a standard audio-only commentary track with Actors Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, Director Ruben Fleischer, and Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. For a five-man track, this one flows nicely, never feels jumbled, and offers a wide array of pertinent information but shared with a light and agreeable tone. Topics include the creation of some of the film's more involved shots, the writing of the story, the work of the stuntmen, the performances of the cast, shooting in Georgia, the film's humor, and a whole lot more. The track is a blast of a listen, and fans of the film will definitely want to spend 88 minutes with it. In Search of 'Zombieland' (1080i, 15:57) is a solid making-of piece that looks at the film's origins as an idea for a television show, the combination of horror and humor in the script, the work of the ensemble cast and their characters' traits, and crafting the look of the zombies and applying the gruesome make-up.
Zombieland is Your Land (1080i, 11:59) is another making-of piece, this one focusing more on the film's exceptional production design, offering viewers a glimpse into the creation and implementation of several of the film's most notable sets, including the trading post, the grocery store, Columbus' apartment, the abandoned freeway, and the amusement park. Next up is a collection of seven deleted scenes (1080p, 5:27) followed by Visual Effects Progression Scenes (1080i) which showcase the following four scenes in various stages of composition: Washington (2:08), Seat Belts (0:34), Banjo Zombie (0:30), and Falling Zombie (0:23). Also included is BD-Live functionality; Sony's MovieIQ connectivity; a collection of five film-related Theatrical Promo Trailers (1080p): Bounty Towels (1:11), Bowling Ball (1:13), Buddy System (1:49), Skillet (1:07), and Swiss Army (1:09); and additional 1080p trailers for Black Dynamite, The Boondock Saints II: All Saint's Day, Universal Soldier: Regeneration, Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season, Ghostbusters, Michael Jackson's This is It, Snatch, and Night of the Creeps. Additionally, a PSP-only digital copy is included on the Blu-ray disc proper, and a second digital copy for use on portable devices, such as the iPod, is included on disc two. Unfortunately, neither were eligible for redemption at time of writing.
Zombieland Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Zombieland is a genre lover's dream come true, a movie that's put it all together, realized what the genre is all about, and what it needs to continue on, at least with a fresh and novel approach to keep things cinematically interesting until the real Zombies start poking their (literally) rotten noses into everything, and then movies won't matter, anyway. Indeed, Zombieland is the Star Trek of its genre. Hip, happening, true to its roots, but taking a few liberties and incorporating some new ideas that make it all the more fun and fresh and infinitely entertaining, Director Ruben Fleischer's Zombieland is primed to become a modern classic and a pillar in Zombie movie lore. With a sequel rumored to be in the works, cinephiles can only hope that the (potential) series retains the charm, wit, and allure of this exceptionally-crafted and altogether wonderful Horror/Comedy hybrid extravaganza. Sony's Blu-ray release of Zombieland excels in every area. Featuring a dazzling 1080p picture quality, an equally impressive lossless soundtrack, and plenty of ooey-gooey extras, Zombieland is a must-own disc that's deserving of a spot in every Blu-ray collection. Highly recommended.
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