Land of the Dead appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though it didn’t excel, this became a satisfying presentation.
Overall sharpness looked good. A little softness could interfere with some of the film’s low-light shots, but those instances remained minor and infrequent, so the movie usually appeared accurate.
Jagged edges and shimmering created no issues, and edge haloes didn’t complicate matters. Print flaws appeared absent, as I noticed no defects during the film.
Zombie flicks don’t lend themselves to bright hues, so Land presented a restricted palette. It suited the grim urban setting. When brighter colors appeared, they seemed fine, but don’t expect much from the intensely gray-green-blue visuals.
Blacks were dense and deep, and shadows looked positive. As noted, these occasionally veered a little soft, but the material remained easy to view. The movie offered a solid transfer.
Given the movie’s many action scenes, I expected a lot of auditory information, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack delivered. The mixes opened up matters well and delivered a lively, involving setting.
Gunfire created the most prominent element, as bullets zipped all around us. Other effects also popped up in logical spots and created a fine sense of place. The mix cranked the action into high gear and did so well.
Audio quality was solid. Speech consistently appeared natural and distinctive, with no edginess or concerns related to intelligibility. Music was bright and bold, as the score showed good range and detail.
Effects packed a punch, so gunfire and explosions blasted us with clean, realistic tones. Bass response occasionally seemed slightly boomy, but usually the low-end was smooth and tight. All told, the track created solid audio.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2005 DVD? Audio seemed a bit more robust and full, while visuals appeared tighter and smoother. This was a decent upgrade.
The Blu-ray includes many of the DVD’s extras, and we find an audio commentary with director George Romero, producer Peter Grunwald, and editor Michael Daughtery. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific piece.
The participants talk about locations and sets, stunts and practical elements, visual effects, characters and the cast, and general notes from the shoot. They also detail the differences between this cut and the theatrical version.
Boy, that sounds like a strong commentary, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the reality is far less appealing. I like the parts that talk about changes made for this unrated cut, but almost everything else bores.
The notes remain brief and superficial, as the track almost never really digs into the film’s creation. Lots of dead air occurs with precious little useful information to punctuate the lulls. This commentary comes across as a dull dud.
Six excised clips show up under The Remaining Bits. These last a mere two minutes, 56 seconds total and don’t really qualify as true deleted scenes. They’re all small snippets of segments and don’t add up to much.
Worlds collide in the 12-minute and 59-second When Shaun Met George. Shaun of the Dead actor/co-writer Simon Pegg and director/co-writer Edgar Wright did a cameo as zombies in Land, and this featurette shows their experiences.
We also find remarks from special makeup effects artist Greg Nicotero, Romero’s assistant Gwilym Roddick, and associate producer Silenn Thomas. Pegg and Wright don’t tell us much outside of the “it was great fun” vein, but at least the show presents a decent look behind the scenes to see what it’s like to act as a zombie.
At only one minute, 43 seconds, Scenes of Carnage just shows a series of disgusting shots from the movie. What’s the point? I don’t know. I suppose it can be considered a version of the movie for those who love gore but lack the patience to sit through the whole film.
Technical matters come to the forefront in the three-minute, 18-second Zombie Effects: From Green Screen to Finished Scene. This presents simple comparison shots, as we see many clips before and after completion of their visual effects. I’d like this better if it included commentary to discuss the work, but it’s still moderately interesting to see the elements in their raw state.
More of this kind of material shows up in the seven-minute, 55-second Bringing the Storyboards to Life. This presents direct comparisons as it puts the boards in the top left corner and the movie in the lower half of the screen. It’s the standard piece of this sort and should satisfy those who enjoy this sort of thing.
Finally, Scream Tests: Zombie Casting Call runs one minute, four seconds. I thought this would offer a look at the casting of actors to play zombies.
Instead, it shows crude CG zombies who do the big dance from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. (Alas, the clip doesn’t include that music.) This is the kind of thing better suited to be an Easter egg than a real feature.
Exclusive the Blu-ray, U-Control offers a “picture-in-picture” component. It mixes storyboards, behind the scenes footage, and interviews. We hear from Romero, Grunwald, Nicotero, producers Mark Canton and Bernie Goldmann, stunt coordinator Matt Birman and actors John Leguizamo, Asia Argento, Dennis Hopper and Simon Baker.
The comments look at story/characters, sets and locations, stunts and action, various effects, cast and performances, and related domains. The DVD included three featurettes that the Blu-ray drops – because it incorporates that material into “U-Control”.
This makes “U-Control” an inefficient use of time. I’d prefer to get the material separately in the original featurettes, as that makes the information easier to access. “U-Control” has some decent footage but it’s not great.