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HTF BluRay Review: Land of the Dead (Recommended)



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#1 of 13 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted September 28 2008 - 12:09 PM

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Blu Ray Title: Land of the Dead – Unrated Director’s Cut
Disk Release Date: 30 September, 2008
Rated: Unrated, Theatrical release was R
Screen format: 1080P High Definition Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Universal
First theatrical release: June 24, 2005
Previous releases on disk: Unrated Widescreen, Rated R Widescreen and Fullscreen DVD editions on October 18, 2005. Unrated Director’s Cut HD-DVD on same day.
Director: George A. Romero
Starring: Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy and John Leguizamo
Sound Formats: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1
Length: 1 hour 37 minutes on a BD-25
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French



(Note: Some contents originated in my DVD and HD DVD reviews of this title)

Plot: 4.5/5
It used to be that you could count on Zombies. They were some pretty well established rules: They weren’t very bright, they move pretty slowly, they are attracted to shiny things and fireworks, and all they ever do is feed. In Land of the Dead, the brains behind the zombie oeuvre himself George A. Romero changes the game once again, redefines the genre and uses the film’s plot as thinly veiled protest against the current political state of affairs in America in the process.

The Zombie invasion which has spread throughout the first three of Romero’s films (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead) has grown such that humans have begun to band together in cities and other strongholds. A new order has risen under political leadership. Money now has value once again, although the means of earning it have changed over time. Groups of zombie hunters and resource gatherers now comb the landscape finding valuable food, fuel and trinkets to bring back for their bartering power. Riley (Simon Baker) and Cholo (John Leguizamo) are both veteran scavengers, but with very different priorities.

When Cholo is denied his dream of living in the luxury part of town by the head politician they serve under (Hopper), he decides to split from society, taking the town’s best weapon, the Dead Reckoning, with him. Riley is assigned to bring him back in, and he will have to do it quickly as the local zombies have somehow gotten smarter. They are no longer distracted by fireworks, they can use weapons, swim, use group tactics, and have goals of their own.

Race relations, the war on terror, the excesses of society and what it simply means to be human are all explored and masterfully skewered in this romp, using the fun of gore and violence as a backdrop to a powerful morality tale. If anyone misses the clues, the extras leave nothing to guess, as both Romero admits that he is panning the current political climate and Hopper announces “I played my character like Rumsfeld”. Regardless of political viewpoint, this is easily the best the genre has to offer, and if you enjoy horror then the effects, gore, irreverent humor and solid story will be just what you are after.

Sound Quality: 5/5

The sound quality on this film is up there with the best of recent movies and both the previous HD DVD and this BluRay capture that to the fullest possible. This BluRay make the leap to full uncompressed DTS HD Master Audio so those who demand nothing less will have zero complaints, but I found a lot to love in that DD+ track, and I believe that while there are those who can tell the difference without repeated A/B critical listening it’s kind of moot since you get the best there is here on this disk. For the record I didn’t feel like I was experiencing anything new in this viewing but I didn’t do any kind of head to head test.

The surround track features an enveloping holosonic field from the first moment until the last note in the credits. The soundtrack to the film itself is quite varied, featuring great bass and interesting surround effects to keep an air of both creepiness and also keeping us cheering for Riley and crew. Gun and explosion effects are some of the punchiest around, they definitely hit you deep in the gut and the rumbles are deep and long. We are truly in demo material territory here, and since the effects are embedded in to some fun visual and story elements at the same time, so much the better.

Visual Quality: 5/5
I found the visual qualities of Land of the Dead on BluRay to match exactly my remembrance of the film on HD DVD. Others across the net will surely pixel peep this into oblivion and come to some objective measure about which is technically superior but I found that, on my setup at least, few movies have ever looked as good.

Given that this movie is shot almost entirely at night, the detail and depth of this transfer is astounding. I was shocked watching the making of segments to find puppets and other trickery used where I thought I was watching actual human actors, the detail is that good but is not betrayed by the high def transfer. Colors are rock solid, tho often using a blue filter for effect, which adds to the creepiness. Sharpness is incredible, and there is zero evidence of edge enhancement or unwarranted grain, tho a thin layer of grain is constantly present, preserving the theatrical film’s ‘look’. There is also ZERO dust or scratches notable on the print. Not once did I notice anything out of place. This is truly a perfect transfer.

Extra Features: 4/5
Unlike the HD DVD which was a flipper with all features but the director’s commentary located on the B side (on standard definition DVD), on this BluRay all features fit fine onto the single sided BD-25 along with the film. I found that almost all of features from the HD-DVD made it intact (tho still in standard definition) except the music video which I didn’t see.

The big change is that several of the HD DVD features (including the best one, called Undead Again) were chopped up and put into U-Control in almost random order. Once again I find this really stupid and frustrating and encourage all of our readers to join together to ask Universal to not continue butchering these extras!!!

There are five other behind the scenes making of segments and those include ‘Bringing the dead to life’; ‘Zombie Effects; Bringing the Storyboards to Life’; and ‘Scream Tests’ which is a short and silly video showing bad CGI zombies overlaid on top of a subway entry ‘plate’ photograph. There’s also an extended segment where the stars of Sean of the Dead show up for their cameos. Finally, there are about 10 deleted scenes slapped together badly in a segment called ‘The remaining bits’ which should have been done a lot better than it was but was still interesting.

Overall: 4/5 (not an average)
Despite Universal’s gaffe on messing up perfectly good (and interesting/amusing) featurette material this is still an otherwise very good release.

Fans of the horror genre can rejoice, finally we have a full featured package that hits everything right in story, gore, visuals, sound and extras. Land of the Dead is a fantastic addition to the zombie mythos, and will likely be pointed back to in years to come as an example of the political climate of the day, as well as an example of slick movie making and artful direction and story-telling. This disk deserves to be seen as both near reference quality demo material and just a pure fun experience. Recommended.

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#2 of 13 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted September 28 2008 - 02:50 PM

Sam, did you get three pack of The Thing, Land and the Dawn remake? If you did, do the three movies have their own individual cases that fit into a slipcase or is there different packaging for the three pack?

#3 of 13 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted September 28 2008 - 05:07 PM

I was sent them all separately so no idea, sorry!

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#4 of 13 OFFLINE   powerknowledge

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Posted October 01 2008 - 10:51 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
Sam, did you get three pack of The Thing, Land and the Dawn remake? If you did, do the three movies have their own individual cases that fit into a slipcase or is there different packaging for the three pack?

The 3-pack is simply the three, individually-packaged films shrinkwrapped together, with a thin paperboard "wrap-around" (with some advert phrase, ala "Horror Essentials 3-Pack" or something similar on it) underneath the shrinkwrap holding the cases together. I'm thankful for this approach (unlike the Ultimate Unrated Comedy Collection): no need for a box, and less to throw away.

#5 of 13 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted October 01 2008 - 02:31 PM

^Thanks for the info! Posted Image

#6 of 13 OFFLINE   RickyB

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Posted October 05 2008 - 08:12 AM

Oh man I thought this movie was just awful.

#7 of 13 OFFLINE   Edward Schatz

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Posted October 06 2008 - 06:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickyB
Oh man I thought this movie was just awful.

Then why are you thread crapping?
Edward

#8 of 13 OFFLINE   RickyB

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Posted October 06 2008 - 03:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Schatz
Then why are you thread crapping?

Why are you?

#9 of 13 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted October 06 2008 - 03:27 PM

"I know you are but what am I?"- Pee Wee Herman

#10 of 13 OFFLINE   Edward Schatz

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Posted October 07 2008 - 04:04 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
"I know you are but what am I?"- Pee Wee Herman

That seems to be the logical extent of that retort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickyB
Why are you?

Do you even know what thread crapping is? It is when someone, like you did here, posts in a thread for no reason other than to ruin it for everyone else. Something similar would be if there were a thread dedicated to how amazing "Sex And The City" is and I posted there ranting about how ridiculously stupid it was. Unnecessary.

I happen to like this movie and am interested in the Blu-Ray. You're just posting here about how you hate the movie. That's fine if you don't like it, but telling people who are interested in the disc is pointless and rude. Last time I checked, the forum was to discuss home theater. The thread was not here for you to drop your opinion on the quality of the film.
Edward

#11 of 13 OFFLINE   RickyB

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Posted October 15 2008 - 05:50 AM

This Blu-Ray disc was highly recommended by the reviewer. Should someone that hasn't seen this (crappy) film stumble upon the review and see that it comes highly rated from the reviewer it would be helpful if they could also see that someone else not only didn't care for it but would recommend that they not waste time watching it when there likely are other much more worthy films to spend time with, even if that "review" was short or not worthwhile to you.

Now if I somehow "ruined" the thread for someone else, as I seemed to have for you, that speaks only of their/your shakey pyschological makeup and not of the merrits of my opinion. Your "sex and the city" analogy is worthless because I did not go on a rant, nor do I desire to enter into a discussion of the merits of this movie. I gave my opinion and as far as I was concerned, that was the end of the discussion.

Believe it or not, the people that read this forum don't all share your view so therefore they may find my opinion helpful, not "pointless" or "rude." It's not "pointless" if someone that was going to spend $25 or so hard earned dollars on this disc instead spends it on something that, after further investigation, may be more worthwhile to them ($25 worth of tic-tacs, for example.) So stop being selfish and short sighted in thinking that this forum and these reviews are only here for you.

Give yourself a good pat on the back because you have just executed the lowest form of "thread crapping", that in which alleges another's "thread crapping" offense. I'm fairly certain this thread is not here so you can drop your opinion on my opinion on the quality of this film.

If you have any modicum of sense left you'll leave this alone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Schatz
That seems to be the logical extent of that retort.



Do you even know what thread crapping is? It is when someone, like you did here, posts in a thread for no reason other than to ruin it for everyone else. Something similar would be if there were a thread dedicated to how amazing "Sex And The City" is and I posted there ranting about how ridiculously stupid it was. Unnecessary.

I happen to like this movie and am interested in the Blu-Ray. You're just posting here about how you hate the movie. That's fine if you don't like it, but telling people who are interested in the disc is pointless and rude. Last time I checked, the forum was to discuss home theater. The thread was not here for you to drop your opinion on the quality of the film.


#12 of 13 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted October 15 2008 - 08:49 AM

Ricky: I think that we'd all have appreciated your comment more if you had told us WHY you thought the movie was crap. I think TONS of movies are crap and am not afraid to say it, but I'll give specific points about what was bad.

Did you not care for the story, the acting, the style, the effects, the sound? Was there anything redeeming for you or not? Are you a fan of other zombie movies? Do you have any comment on the Zombie genre as political commentary?

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#13 of 13 OFFLINE   cineMANIAC

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Posted November 10 2009 - 03:27 AM


LAND OF THE DEAD
 

 






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