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Zombieland (Blu-ray Review)

29 Jan, 2010 By: John Latchem


Street 2/2/10
Sony Pictures
Box Office $75.6 million
$28.96 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, UMD $24.94
Rated ‘R’ for horror violence/gore and language.
Stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin.

Is the apocalypse supposed to be this much fun?

In the near future of Zombieland, a deadly plague has turned most humans into flesh-eating monsters. To survive, a nerdy loner (Jesse Eisenberg) joins forces with a gun-crazy redneck (Woody Harrelson) and con-artist sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin), in search of a mythical place free of the zombies.

The film offers an inventive twist on the traditional zombie story thanks to a gory sense of humor from writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the stylish direction of first-time helmer Ruben Fleischer, and a hilarious celebrity cameo that is so well executed you won’t want it to end.

The setting brings to mind Zombie Survival Guide and Shaun of the Dead, but there’s actually a lot more going on here than outward appearances would suggest.

Each of the major human characters has decided to escape their horrific surroundings by seeking refuge in the trappings of their childhoods, only to learn this is a false hope. Ultimately, the only goal they can strive for is basic survival.

Not that the filmmakers are encouraging a deeper reading of the material. This is first and foremost a fun ride, which makes the final showdown at an amusement park so apropos.

One of the great gags of the movie involves a graphic of various survival rules popping onto the screen when merited by the situation (the graphics are usually destroyed by the action, as if infused into the setting).

Zombieland started as a TV pilot script, and the intended origins are evident in the finished product. Cutaway scenes such as the “Zombie Kill of the Week” are clearly intended as running gags, and the ending, while definitive, easily opens the door for a follow-up. It’s easy to assume there will be a sequel given Zombieland’s box office status as the highest-grossing zombie movie ever made.

The disc offers a pretty good suite of bonus material. A few making-of featurettes cover all the aspects of the production, from filming in Georgia to researching real diseases to create the zombie make-up. Another featurette compares various effects-heavy scenes before and after the application of CGI.

Some deleted scenes expand on the story and even cover up some minor plot holes. And there’s an excellent commentary with the cast and crew that provides a lot of good insights as the participants ask each other about their respective roles in the production.

The Blu-ray also includes a picture-in-picture mode that shows behind-the-scenes footage and some of the visual effects progressions for the relevant scenes.

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