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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Ruben Fleischer
Cast:
Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Bill Murray
Writing Credits:
Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

Tagline:
This place is so dead.

Synopsis:
Nerdy college student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has survived the plague that has turned mankind into flesh-devouring zombies because he’s scared of just about everything. Gun-toting, Twinkie-loving Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) has no fears. Together, they are about to stare down their most horrifying challenge yet: each other’s company. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin co-star in this double-hitting, head-smashing comedy.

Box Office:
Budget
$23.600 million.
Opening Weekend
$24.733 million on 3036 screens.
Domestic Gross
$75.590 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 88 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 2/2/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Ruben Fleischer, Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and Actors Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg
• “Beyond the Graveyard” Picture-In-Picture Feature
• “In Search of Zombieland” Featurette
• “Zombieland Is Your Land” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Visual Effects Scene Progressions
• Theatrical Promo Trailers
• Previews


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


Zombieland [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 5, 2010)

Over the 40-plus years since Night of the Living Dead, we’ve seen skillions of zombie movies – so many that it would seem impossible for any new genre entries to feel like more than just the same old, same old.

Or so I thought until I saw 2009’s delightful Zombieland. Set in the standard post-apocalyptic wasteland, nerdy student Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) manages to survive the relentless onslaught via his relentless adherence to a series of rules for dealing with the undead.

Left on his own, Columbus perks up when he meets another wandering zombie-fighter, the rugged macho man Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). (The characters prefer to avoid using their real names so they don’t get too attached to each other; instead, they just refer to their cities they’d like to reach.) Against Tallahassee’s wishes, they pair up and hit the road together, all in search of an alleged zombie-free parcel of land. We follow their adventures and their interactions with other survivors like Wichita (Emma Stone), a cutie who Columbus hopes he can eventually land as his girlfriend.

When I visited my parents in the fall of 2009, my Dad and I wanted to go to a movie. He asked what I would like to see, and I ran off a list of flicks that included Zombieland. To my surprise, the Old Man noted an interest in that one. I checked with him about five times to make sure he really, really wanted to see it, and he continually responded in the positive.

So we saw the flick. As we left the AMC, I asked his opinion. He said he didn’t like the movie, though mostly because he didn’t care for films of this sort.

Which begged the question: if the Old Man doesn’t care for action zombie flicks, why’d he repeatedly tell me he wanted to see Zombieland? Add that one to the Eternal Perplexing Mysteries of the Semi-Elderly Parents.

This incident probably wouldn’t have stuck in my craw too much were it not for the fact that I really liked Zombieland. Indeed, I really couldn’t think of anything more I would want from a film of this sort.

Initially, however, I feared it might go down the uber-hipster path; it possessed the potential to adapt the most annoying aspects of Juno to the zombie genre. Movies like this walk that proverbial fine line between clever and stupid – or funny and irritating. A little too far in one direction and the humor becomes cloying and too smug for its own good.

Happily, Zombieland almost always falls on the right side of that line, even with Eisenberg and his Big Bag o’ Mannerisms in tow. Apparently Eisenberg has cornered the market on movies with “land” in the title, as he also starred in Adventureland a few months earlier. I’d call him a lite version of Michael Cera, but the real thing is already so light that Eisenberg can’t make him much more lightweight.

Despite my predisposition to dislike Eisenberg, I had no problems with him here. I can’t quite say I dig his work in the movie, but his nerdy stammer fits the character well enough, and he makes Columbus a substantial enough personality to impress. At least I can believe Eisenberg’s Columbus as a good zombie killer, while it’s impossible to accept that the perpetually annoying Cera could even shoot a gun.

Perhaps Eisenberg fails to annoy because Harrelson balances him out so well. Woody steals the show with his goofy redneck zombie killer, and he adds real zest to the proceedings. Stone and Abigail Breslin also deliver the goods, so the flick boasts a nice cast across the board.

I won’t even offer details on the film’s most inspired casting choice. At one point, we find a pretty major star as himself, and his brief moments become absolutely inspired. I don’t want to say more and ruin the fun, but I totally love the weird path the flick takes at that point.

Actually, Zombieland goes down a whole bunch of silly, inspired tangents/twists, and those allow it to rise above its genre limitations. While it comes packed with tons of blood and gore, it plays these for laughs – and satisfying laughs at that. The combination horror/action/comedy is a very tough act to pull off, but Zombieland does it. Expect a satisfying romp.

By the way, stay through the conclusion of the end credits. If you do so, you’ll find a funny outtake.


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

Zombieland appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not stellar, this was a consistently solid presentation.

Sharpness was very good. At no time did any softness interfere, as the movie came across as tight and well-defined. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained absent. In terms of print issues, no concerns materialized.

Like most modern horror movies, Zombieland went with a stylized palette. Much of the flick stayed with a pretty desaturated set of tones; only a few brighter colors popped up – mostly at the amusement park - which made sense given the movie’s desolate settings. Within those constraints, the hues were appropriate and well-rendered. Blacks seemed dark and tight, but shadows were a little heavy; low-light shots lacked terrific detail. Despite that, this was a positive presentation.

Similar thoughts greeted the good DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Zombieland. The soundfield mostly came to life during a few action sequences. These provided fairly good material from the side and rear speakers, as these scenes used those speakers to a positive effect. Wild action elements cropped up around the room and created a fair amount of nutty action.

Audio quality satisfied. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, and music appeared robust and full. Effects were accurate and dynamic. Low-end response showed good thump and richness. Nothing here dazzled, but the audio merited a “B+”.

The Blu-ray boasts a pretty nice set of supplements. We open with “Beyond the Graveyard”, a picture-in-picture feature. It mixes raw footage from the shoot, pre-viz material and storyboards, and interviews. We hear from 2nd unit director/stunt coordinator George Aguilar, visual effects supervisor Paul Linden, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, director Ruben Fleischer, and actors Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Mike White, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody Harrelson. They discuss stunts and effects, characters and their traits, cast and performances, and a few general thoughts about the production.

In the year or so that I’ve reviewed Blu-rays, I’ve seen some good picture-in-picture features. “Graveyard” won’t land on my list of the best of these; in fact, it’ll be on my list of disappointments. When the information appears, we find some decent material; nothing terribly scintillating pops up, but the segments have their moments.

Unfortunately, we find these too infrequently for them to make this a satisfying experience. I don’t expect PiP features to provide a non-stop barrage of components, but we should get those elements on a pretty consistent basis. Here we find a lot of dead space and don’t find nearly enough material to keep us occupied. “Graveyard” is only worth a look if you’re really bored and you can’t get enough of all things Zombieland; it’s just not a satisfactory program.

Next comes an audio commentary with director Ruben Fleischer, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and actors Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg. All five sit together for this running, screen-specific take on the film’s origins and path to the screen, cast, characters and performances, story issues and editing, music and production design, stunts and effects, and sets and locations.

With noted eccentric Harrelson in tow, one might expect a loose, goofy chat. Instead, we get a very standard commentary. That’s not a bad thing, though the result never becomes especially memorable. We find a reasonably good collection of thoughts about the production, however, and we learn a fair amount about the flick here.

Two featurettes follow. In Search of Zombieland goes for 15 minutes, 57 seconds and provides remarks from Harrelson, Stone, Fleischer, Breslin, Eisenberg, Wernick, Reese, producer Gavin Polone, executive producer Ezra Swerdlow, key makeups effects artist Kevin Prouty, and actor Amber Heard. The show discusses the project’s roots and development, cast, characters and performances, zombie design and makeup.

“Search” provides a pretty mediocre featurette. Much of it stays with basic notes, and a lot of it also appears during the commentary. I do like the info about the nature of the zombie disease/design, though, and we learn some interesting thoughts about those characters.

Zombieland Is Your Land lasts 11 minutes, 59 seconds and features Eisenberg, Fleischer, Swerdlow, Wernick, Reese, Breslin, Stone, Harrelson, and production designer Maher Ahmad. This show looks at production design, sets and locations. Unlike the general “Search”, “Land” focuses on a pretty tight subject area. And that makes it more effective, as we learn a lot about the set design specifics in this satisfying program.

Seven Deleted Scenes occupy a total of five minutes, 27 seconds. As that running time indicates, we find no extended additions here; the longest segment lasts only about 90 seconds. A couple show more about the aftermath of Columbus’s experiences with 406; these provide unnecessary exposition. Others let us learn a little more about Wichita and Little Rock, and we also see some pangs of guilt over the way they treat the guys. The clips are generally interesting, but I don’t think any of them needed to be in the final film.

Under Visual Effects Progression Scenes, we see four clips: “Washington” (0:53), “Seat Belts” (0:27), “Banjo Zombie” (0:24) and “Falling Zombie” (0:19). Each of these silent pieces lets us see the shots in various stages; we watch the effects layers build in them. They’re a decent way to view the manner in which the movie created its effects.

Five Theatrical Promo Trailers fill a total of six minutes, four seconds. Like standard trailers, they include movie clips, but they mostly consist of zombie-related Q&A with Harrelson and Eisenberg in character. That factor makes them much more interesting than the usual ads.

The disc opens with a promo for Black Dynamite. That ad also appears under Previews along with clips for The Boondocks Saints II: All Saints Day, Universal Soldier: Regeneration, Breaking Bad S2, Ghostbusters, Michael Jackson’s This Is It, Snatch and Night of the Creeps.

No one should expect true greatness from a flick like Zombieland, but it definitely achieves Really Goodness. The movie combines action, comedy and horror in a genuinely satisfying package and keeps us amused and entertained. The Blu-ray boasts solid picture and audio along with a decent allotment of supplements. Zombieland offers “B”-movie fun at its best.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 12
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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