Zombieland Blu-ray Review
Well, colour me surprised! I may not have been that impressed with the film itself but the picture is entirely a different matter. One of the joys of Blu-ray is that a disc that may not be the subject of the highest expectations can suddenly blow you away. The 1080p encode presented here may not be the very best the medium has to offer but it is certainly no slouch.
The first thing to notice is the colour level that is present in the transfer. Every splash of blood is vibrant and red, virtually jumping off the screen. Blue skies look deep and perfect, and clothing is well rendered. The level of black is deep and inky and shadow detail is superb. You only have to look at some of the opening chase scenes to realise just how much detail is present in even the darkest scenes. The level of detail is consistent throughout and is particularly highlighted in the slow motion shop destruction sequence where it appears that you could count every shard of glass.
The level of depth is similarly impressive. Post-apocalyptic films lend themselves to show off this particular aspect of blu-ray. Long, empty roads stretching into the distance, the inevitable long shop of an endless crowd of zombies chasing towards the camera - both are present and both impress.
If there was a slight criticism to be made, it would be that skin tones are slightly inconsistent - sometimes developing a yellow / orange hue but incidents of these are few and far between. Generally this transfer is superb and will impress fans and newcomers alike.
It normally follows that an excellent video score is usually accompanied by an excellent audio one but sadly in this case this is not true. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track presented here is certainly not a disaster, but it is too one-dimensional to really rock your world.
The positives first. The dialogue is clear and precise and well anchored to the front speakers. Sadly, there is very little localisation of the dialogue. It doesn't matter where in the frame they are, or even off camera, the dialogue is always pinned to the front. The front separation is also not particularly wide or impressive.
The surrounds get very little use at all, and this is a shame. The potential to truly scare the audience with ambient effects is great, but is never truly realised, leading to a rather flat sound-field. The sub gets a decent workout, but never truly reaches the stomach-rumbling depths that it is capable of.
One impressive aspect of the track is the dynamic range which is wide and impressive. Also the score is well integrated within the mix, never overpowering the dialogue.
I am not a fan of commentaries on the whole, and would only ever listen to them when reviewing a disc. To be honest, examples like this are never going to persuade me to change my mind. Featuring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Ruben Fleischer, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick there really should be a level of comedy and entertainment here - but sadly there was none. Long periods of silence punctuate the occasional rather dry revelation about production. This is really not an enjoyable commentary. Two featurettes In Search of Zombieland and Zombieland is your land are also poor, offering little insight. They are also sycophantic in the extreme.
We are then treated to five minutes of deleted scenes. Well, perhaps treated is the wrong word because none of these provide any arguments for their conclusion in the main movie. They don't advance the plot, and aren't particularly funny either - so they are at best a one-watch curiosity. Potentially better is the Visual Effects Progression Scenes. It is always interesting to watch docs on how visual effects are created - but sadly this goes into no depth and managed to cover several key scenes in its 2 minute runtime. Way too superficial to be of any benefit. The rest of the the extras package is taken up with a trailers package.
So, although the extras seem extensive and decent when viewing the back of the box, the reality so far has been rather disappointing. Thankfully, you can ditch all those that have been mentioned so far in favour of the excellent Picture in Picture Track which is HD exclusive. Entitled Beyond the graveyard, this contains some parts of the existing special features and also many new insights and clips of interviews. This track has it's flaws (it could do with the makers “pausing” the film whilst they discuss like in Bruno) but generally it is insightful and interesting.
I am afraid I failed to be impressed with Zombieland. I didn't find it frightening enough, and the comedy wasn't consistent enough to keep me amused. The film seems to be very much a high concept, original idea that failed to expand to fill a 90 minute movie. Although there is much to admire here, in particular Harrelson's performance, the story and plot very quickly run out of steam.
There are no such problems with the picture, which is uniformly excellent - although the sound (like the film) is rather one-dimensional, failing to fill the room with dynamic effects. The extras seem comprehensive on viewing the box, but turn out to be rather superficial. However, the picture in picture track is excellent and single handedly rescues the extras from a low mark.
If you have seen, and liked Zombieland then there is no doubt that you will want to pick this up. The high quality picture is likely to be enough to confirm that this is a definite purchase for fans. However, tiresome as it may be, I can only recommend a rental if you are coming to the film blind. There are far better mixes of horror / comedy out there than this.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £39.95
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