Dawn of the Dead appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, this became a good presentation.
Overall sharpness worked well. A few interiors showed a sliver of softness, but those instances remained unusual, as the majority of the film appeared accurate and concise.
I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. The movie also lacked any print flaws, and with a light layer of grain, I didn’t detect any issues with digital noise reduction.
Dawn featured a very stylized palette. Much of the film demonstrated a sickly green tone, and it also showed high-contrast imagery at other times. Colors looked solid across the board, as long as we examined them within their stylistic parameters.
Black levels also came across as deep and dense, while shadow detail was usually heavy without excessive thickness. This turned into a strong transfer.
The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield presented a broad and consistently engaging affair. All five channels received a strong workout, as they offered a variety of elements throughout the movie.
Music showed good stereo separation and breadth, and effects seemed to be well placed and accurately localized. These aspects came from logical places and they moved neatly between speakers.
The surrounds played an active role in the film, but the many action pieces provided the best examples of the engulfing audio. All of the speakers came to life and the sound melded together well to create a clear and vibrant impression.
Audio quality also appeared to be top-notch. I thought dialogue always sounded warm and natural. The lines blended well with the action, and I heard no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. Music sounded bright and showed good fidelity with fine dynamic range.
Effects were the most prominent aspect of the mix, as they presented accurate and bold elements that really created a fine mix. Bass response was loud and tight, and the low-end really shook the house at times – literally. Ultimately, Dawn offered a fine audio track that really added to the movie.
How did the 2017 “Collector’s Edition Blu-ray compare to the original Blu-ray? Audio appeared to be identical, but visuals showed obvious improvements, as the 2017 disc was tighter and more film-like. The old Blu-ray offered mediocre picture quality, so I thought the 2017 release turned into an obvious improvement.
This set includes both the movie’s theatrical cut (1:40:02) as well as an unrated version (1:49:11). The prior release featured only the unrated edition, so we get the theatrical cut’s Blu-ray debut here. Please go back to the body of this review for my comments about differences between the two versions.
Alongside the unrated cut, we locate an audio commentary from director Zack Snyder and producer Eric Newman, both of whom sit together for their running, screen-specific chat.
Don’t expect much from this fluffy discussion. On paper, the piece sounds good, as the pair go over a lot of appropriate topics. They talk about adaptation issues, the changes between the theatrical and unrated editions, the cast and working with them, makeup and visual effects, storytelling, and locations, with an emphasis on challenges shooting in Toronto.
Unfortunately, much of the time Snyder and Newman do little more than praise the flick. This is “cool”, that’s “awesome”, the whole thing is “great”.
Their enthusiasm becomes slightly contagious, and they can be fun at times, but unfortunately the track lacks much depth. They simply don’t give us a very good feel for the production.
When you start the unrated movie, you get the option to watch it with a Director’s Introduction. It lasts one minute, 18 seconds as Snyder provides a minor overview of what to expect from the longer cut. It’s a pretty superfluous piece.
Next we find 11 Deleted Scenes. Taken together, these run 11 minutes, 30 seconds.
Don’t expect much more action from these, as only short snippets of zombies appear. Instead, we mostly get character development. Some decent elements show up along with a couple of laughs, but they don’t substantially flesh out the participants.
We can view the deleted scenes with or without commentary from Snyder and Newman. They give us a little info about the snippets and also tell us why the segments got the boot. It’s a worthwhile discussion.
An unusual feature, Andy’s Lost Tape runs 16 minutes, 22 seconds. Basically its own little mini-movie, this features Bruce Bohne as Andy and shows the character’s videotape journal from inside his store.
We watch him go through his isolated journey all the way to his demise and zombification. It’s moderately entertaining, but frankly, Andy’s more interesting from a distance.
Another fictitious piece, Special Report fills 21 minutes, five seconds. It gives us a look at a “news broadcast” that covers the events and goes from the inception of the zombie plague through the use of the Emergency Broadcasting System.
As with the “Lost Tape”, this offers some interesting material, especially the way it fleshes out little bits we see during the final movie. However, don’t expect more from it than some small pleasures.
After this we head to three more traditional featurettes. Raising the Dead takes seven minutes, 54 seconds to look at the creation of the movie’s zombies. We get behind the scenes shots and comments from Snyder, Newman, producer Marc Abraham, and special makeup effects artist David LeRoy Anderson.
They discuss the look of the zombies during various stages and the execution of those elements. It’s a tight and informative examination of the subject.
Now we go to the seven-minute, 24-second Attack of the Living Dead. This includes remarks from Anderson, Snyder and actor Inna Korobkina as they go into more detailed information about some of the zombies.
For the final featurette, Splitting Headaches: Anatomy of Exploding Heads takes five minutes, 36 seconds. We hear more from Anderson and Snyder. They look at the kill effects, with a logical focus on the gunshot wounds to various heads.
Expect this to fit well with the prior two featurettes. It adds more useful information to the table.
After this we find a “mockumentary” called Undead and Loving It. It goes for five minutes, nine seconds and presents notes from Snyder, Newman, Zombie Survival Guide author Max Booth, Abraham, actors Kevin Zegers and Lindy Booth, and various unnamed others. All involved pretend that the production used real zombies. It’s a cute concept that comes with a short enough running time to not wear out its welcome.
With the two-minute, 48-second Drawing the Dead, we hear from Snyder and storyboard artist Mark Yates. The featurette looks at storyboard/pre-planning art for the film, and it becomes a quick but decent summary.
A collection of Storyboard Comparisons last five minutes, 51 seconds. These present the artwork in the top half of the screen and the movie in the bottom. They’re decent but they’re also formatted for 4X3 TVs so they don’t take advantage of 16X9 real estate or HD visuals, which makes them less appealing.
Among this release’s new extras, first comes Take a Chance on Me, a 15-minute, 28-second chat with actor Ty Burrell. He discusses how he came to the film, aspects of his role/performance and his experiences during the shoot. Given Burrell’s subsequent fame on Modern Family, it’s a pleasant surprise to find him here, and he offers fine insights about the flick.
Via Gunn for Hire, we find s nine-minute, 26-second chat with writer James Gunn. He covers his approach to the material and aspects of the production. Another participant who went on to bigger/better things, Gunn gives us a nice overview, albeit one that seems a little brief.
During the 23-minute, 10-second Punk, Rock and Zombie, actor Jake Weber looks at how he came to the film, his role/performance and other memories of the shoot. He gives us another solid chat.
Perplexing to me: Weber’s accent. When I watched the movie, I thought he sounded like a non-American who put on an unconvincing US accent, and since IMDB indicates he grew up in the UK, I felt validated.
In this interview, though, Weber continues to speak in the same tone. This begs the question: does he always talk like this or did he just decide to use the same accent for his interview? At least his American accent seems more convincing circa 2017 than it did in 2004!
Killing Time at the Mall goes for 25 minutes, 36 seconds and offers info from special makeup effects artists David Anderson and Heather Langenkamp Anderson. They tell us about the design and execution of their effects. With ample amounts of behind the scenes footage, this becomes a worthwhile and informative piece.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with a photo gallery. This running piece spans eight minutes, 12 seconds and offers 96 images that mix movie shots, images from the set and advertising. It becomes a strong compilation.
Not too many remakes better their inspirations, but the 2004 Dawn of the Dead indeed provides a more satisfying flick than its predecessor. Tight and exciting, it melds the horror and action genres to turn into a lively piece. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture and audio along with a strong selection of supplements. I enjoy the movie and think this Blu-ray becomes a great representation of it.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of DAWN OF THE DEAD