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OVERTURE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Breck Eisner
Cast:
Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker, Christie Lynn Smith, Brett Rickaby, Preston Bailey, John Aylward
Writing Credits:
Scott Kosar, Ray Wright, George A. Romero (1973 motion picture, The Crazies)

Tagline:
Fear Thy Neighbor.

Synopsis:
In this terrifying glimpse into the "American Dream" gone wrong, an unexplainable phenomenon has taken over the citizens of Ogden Marsh. One by one the townsfolk are falling victim to an unknown toxin and are turning sadistically violent. People who days ago lived quiet, unremarkable lives are now depraved, blood-thirsty killers. While Sheriff Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) and his pregnant wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell), try to make sense of the escalating violence, the government uses deadly force to close off all access and won't let anyone in or out - even those uninfected. In this film that Pat Jankiewicz of Fangoria calls "disturbing," an ordinary night becomes a horrifying struggle for the few remaining survivors as they do their best to get out of town alive.

Box Office:
Budget
$12 million.
Opening Weekend
$16.067 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$39.103 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
PCM 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 6/29/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Breck Eisner
• “Behind the Scenes with Director Breck Eisner” Featurette
• “Paranormal Pandemics” Featurette
• “The George A. Romero Template” Featurette
• “Makeup Mastermind: Rob Hall in Action” Featurette
• “The Crazies Motion Comic”
• “Visual Effects in Motion” Featurette
• Trailers
• “Storyboards: Building a Scene” Featurette
• Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery
• Previews
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Crazies [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 28, 2010)

Over the years, we’ve gotten remakes of some of George Romero’s Dead movies. For 2010’s The Crazies, we find a reworking of a non-Dead Romero flick, as it redoes that director’s 1973 original.

We go to the small Midwest town of Ogden Marsh and meet local sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant). During a high school baseball game, local man Rory Hamill (Mike Hickman) wanders onto the field with a shotgun. When Dutton orders him to lay down the weapon, Rory appears to prepare to shoot, so Dutton needs to take out the citizen.

Everyone assumes that Rory was drunk at the time, but this turns out to be false, and other citizens start to act oddly as well. They seem to be dazed and out of it – and violent too. For instance, one man traps his wife and kid in their house and sets the building on fire. At no point do any of the affected people show emotions; they remain in a kind of walking coma.

Some hunters discover a corpse in the woods, and Dutton finds a large plane that went down in a nearby lake. He suspects that this has affected the town’s drinking water and caused the strange behavior – and he’s right. Government authorities soon take over Ogden Marsh and separate apparently infected citizens from those with no signs. Due to her pregnancy, Dutton’s wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) runs a fever, and this gets interpreted as a symptom of the illness. After being split from her, Dutton attempts to rescue his wife and escape.

While not part of Romero’s Dead series, Crazies sure plays like a kissing cousin. The infected characters maintain more humanity than their zombie-fied Dead counterparts, but they all act a great deal alike, and the various movies play out in similar ways. You have uninfected people who fight against unnatural creatures and other authorities as they attempt to survive; only the direct actions of the monsters makes the two franchises in any way different.

Although I view Crazies as a Dead movie with another name, that doesn’t mean it seems totally derivative – and at this point, it wouldn’t really matter. So many zombie flicks – from Romero and others – have come out over the years that they’ve become a genre in their own right. Virtually all of them owe a debt to Romero, so we can allow for some self-plagiarism.

Which is why I kind of wish I’d checked out the original before I saw the remake: I’d like to know how faithful this version is. Based on what I’ve read, I suspect they’re moderately different, but it’d still be interesting to compare them.

In the meantime, I can assess the 2010 Crazies for what it is: a reasonably effective semi-zombie movie. I wish I could offer higher praise than “reasonably effective”, but that’s about all the enthusiasm it inspires in me. Zack Snyder set the “Romero remake bar” pretty high with 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, and Crazies just can’t compete. Snyder’s Dawn was maybe the best horror remake I’ve seen – at least among the flicks over the last decade – while the 2010 Crazies simply remains pretty good.

But there’s nothing wrong with “pretty good”, especially since so many of the remakes have been closer to “God awful”. The film lacks much character depth, and plot holes abound. Do we really expect much more from a film of this sort, though? Not really, and Crazies tosses out enough decent action to make it worthwhile. The flick manages to work through fairly worthwhile scares and thrills as it takes us toward its conclusion.

A conclusion that may or may not please the audience. I don’t want to throw out spoilers, but the film ends on a note that either gives it a dark feel or that leaves the door open for a sequel – or both. I don’t think it’s the most satisfying finale, but at least it’s not totally pat.

Truthfully, I find it hard to express a whole lot of emotion about Crazies in either direction. I think it entertains to a reasonable degree but never quite threatens to do anything more than that. It’s a professional, moderately enjoyable horror flick.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Crazies appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Although it often looked great, some mild concerns impacted the presentation.

My major complaint related to shadows. Crazies featured a lot of dimly-lit scenes, and these tended to be a bit too opaque. I suspect that much of this came from visual design, but I still thought that it was too tough to discern a lot of the important action; I almost had to guess what was happening at times.

Blacks were also a little tentative and mushy, but everything else about the transfer looked great. Sharpness was especially pleasing, as the movie boasted excellent clarity and delineation. Jaggies and moiré effects weren’t a concern, and neither edge haloes nor source flaws appeared. Colors seemed chilly, but that was appropriate, and they appeared fine within the stylistic parameters. Without the muddiness of the dark shots, this would’ve been an “A”-level transfer, but as it stood, I thought it merited a “B”.

I also found definite ups and downs via the film’s PCM 5.1 soundtrack. The main problem here stemmed from some weak balance in the mix. Effects tended to be very loud, and I found it abnormally difficult to hear dialogue. This wasn’t just because the effects occasionally drowned out the speech; even in quieter scenes, lines could be tough to grasp. The mixers simply didn’t balance out the track particularly well; it’s not a huge flaw, but it’s a distraction.

The issues became exacerbated by the loud nature of the audio. Crazies went pretty nuts with bass, and that contributed more to the off-kilter balance. Pretty much everything was very loud except for the dialogue.

Despite those problems, a lot of the mix worked quite well. Though they came with all that heavy bass, effects still showed good accuracy and range, and music offered nice clarity. When you could adequately hear the lines, dialogue appeared natural, and no edginess occurred.

The soundfield seemed satisfying. Effects cropped up from all around the room in an involving manner. The movie boasted quite a few big action sequences, and those took advantage of the five channels to create a lively setting. Again, the balance problems meant I needed to knock off some points, but I still liked much of what I heard.

When we head to the extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Breck Eisner. He chats about the remake's origins and development, story/thematic/character issues and changes from the original, sets and locations, cast and performances, effects, stunts and makeup, visual design, and cinematography and costumes.

From start to finish, Eisner delivers a simply terrific commentary. He digs into the film with a lot of gusto and provides a wide range of details. This is one of the tightest, most informative tracks I’ve heard in a while.

Most of the other extras come in the form of featurettes. Behind the Scenes with Director Breck Eisner runs 10 minutes, 35 seconds and includes notes from Eisner, producer Rob Cowan, associate producer Brian Frankish, and actors Danielle Panabaker, Joe Anderson, Timothy Olyphant, and Radha Mitchell. They go over story/script/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, production design, and Eisner’s impact on the flick.

“Scenes” offers a rudimentary program. It’s actually better than the average promotional piece, but not by a lot, and it certainly adds little after Eisner’s excellent commentary. If you’ve listened to his chat, you won’t get much out of this show.

During the nine-minute, 41-second Paranormal Pandemics, we hear from Frankish, Eisner, Anderson, Cowan, Mitchell, Olyphant, Panabaker and special makeup effects designer Rob Hall. This show looks at makeup design for the infected characters as well as thoughts about the possibility of a global pandemic. Eisner discussed a lot of the makeup issues in his commentary, but “Paranormal” benefits from the visual elements. We learn enough new info to make the featurette worth a look.

A look at the original film’s director comes to us with The George A. Romero Template. It lasts nine minutes, 56 seconds and features Eisner, Olyphant, Phantasm director Don Coscarelli, DreadCentral.com’s Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton, and ShockTillYouDrop,com’s Ryan “Rotten” Turek. The program essentially offers an appreciation for Romero. It gives us some decent thoughts but it’s not particularly memorable.

Makeup Mastermind: Rob Hall in Action runs 11 minutes, 27 and offers a hands-on view of the makeup effects process. We hear from Hall and his co-workers as they lead us through the methods they used for the flick. This mostly stays with the actual physical creation of the makeup and its application, while Hall’s earlier comments discussed makeup design. “Action” becomes an interesting depiction of the makeup work.

More behind the scenes material crops up with Visual Effects in Motion. It fills three minutes, 42 seconds and shows movie shots at various stages. We see how original photography develops into the final product. I like this kind of demonstration and “Motion” works well.

Despite the fancy title, Storyboards: Building a Scene simply offers stillframe shots. We get 91 screens that cover three different scenes. I prefer storyboard/final film comparisons, but this is still a nice compilation of boards.

Next comes a Crazies Motion Comic. “Episode 1” lasts 14 minutes, 40 seconds, while “Episode 2” goes for 12 minutes, 44 seconds. These use a format that’s like a semi-animated comic book. They give us backstory for some of the movie’s minor characters; this means we learn background for a few elements. None of this is crucial, but it adds interesting exposition.

We get a collection of elements in a Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery. It gives us 40 shots from the set. These tend to be pretty forgettable.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Brooklyn’s Finest and Spartacus: Blood and Sand. These appear under Also on Blu-ray along with promos for Pandorum, Law-Abiding Citizen, Ultimate Fighting Championship and “The Best of Blu-ray”. The disc also presents Trailers for Crazies; it includes a teaser, two theatrical ads, and a promo for the motion comic.

A second disc gives us a Digital Copy of the film. As always, this lets you plop the movie onto a computer or portable viewing thingy. Maybe someday this will mean something to me, but not today.

The Crazies may not be a true zombie movie, but it certainly comes close to that genre. It does little to reinvent that wheel, but it offers acceptable thrills and entertainment. The Blu-ray provides picture and sound that have many positives but suffer from some non-fatal weaknesses as well; extras are satisfying largely due to a very informative audio commentary. I can’t say that Crazies dazzles me, but I expect genre fans will like it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3181 Stars Number of Votes: 22
15:
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16 3:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main