L e n s V i e w s
A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz
Modus Operandi The Scorecard:
Land of the Dead (Unrated Director's Cut) [Blu-ray]
(George A. Romero, 2005)
Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: Universal Pictures & Atmosphere Entertainment
Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Feature Runtime: 1:36:52
Feature film disc size: 19.2 Gig
One single-layered disc
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: September 30th, 2008
Aspect ratio: 2.4:1
Video codec: VC-1
• Director’s Commentary with George A. Romero. Producer
Peter Grunwald and Editor Michael Doherty
• Featurette: “The Remaining Bits” (29:43)
• Storyboard and Final Scenes
• Scream Tests: Zombie Casting Calls(1:04)
• Exclusive to Blu-ray: U-Control with Picture-in-Picture Interactive Cast & Crew Interviews with Behind the Scenes Footage
Product Description: Packed with more heart-pounding and blood-curdling thrills than any theater could show, this special Unrated Director's Cut unleashes the ultimate vision of George A. Romero's latest living-dead shock-fest! Starring Simon Baker, Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo, Land of the Dead finds humanity's last remnants battling to survive the unspeakable truth: The ravenous zombie hordes besieging their fortified city… are evolving!
The Movie: 4
First there was George A. Romero's ground-breaking 1968 black & white Night of the Living Dead, made on the cheap with amateur actors. (It was remade in 1990 in color and higher tech production, exec-produced by Romero, directed by Tom Savini.) The charm and seductive power of Romero's first directorial effort was its very low-tech approach – out of necessity came a kind of art form that eventually led to bastardizations such as The Blair Witch Project. Like Invasion of the Body Snatchers before it, Romero's ending did not resolve the matter, and a sequel was certainly plausible and probably inevitable. Romero gave us the much better funded Dawn of the Dead ten years later. In Dawn, Romero was more direct in his satirical social commentary, setting his story in a large indoor shopping mall, where zombies return more out of habit than intention. This was followed in 1985 with Day of the Dead, where the gore threatened to take over the movie.
Cut now to 2005, the year after Zack Snyder came out with his surprisingly competent remake of Dawn of the Dead, to Land of the Dead. In the unrated director's cut, the threat of bloody carnage is made good, as the walking dead begin develop smarts, dining on humans either too stupid or too petrified to ever look behind them. No longer are the zombies forever distracted by fireworks overhead so that paramilitary groups can mow them down at will. No longer do they walk aimlessly, but follow a leader (Eugene Clark) who, like the ape in 2001: A Space Odyssey, discovers the tools of death.
Unhappily, the movie itself doesn't nearly live up to the expectations of its premise. The human drama, which revolves around the personal greed of one real estate tycoon (Dennis Hopper) and his unwillingness to pay off those who do his bidding, is amateurish, with less intelligence than the "stenches" whom he and the remaining humans deride and fear. Simon Baker and John Leguizamo are soldiers in Hopper's employ who go out into the towns, kill whatever zombies they can find and bring back the goods left behind as people fled years ago. As a growing army of zombies gather across the river from the city, Baker, Leguizamo and Hopper carry on their little comedy about who deserves what. The climax involves the eating of human parts to such a degree that it loses its gore.
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Image : 8/9
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.
Alas, the video image far exceeds the movie in interest and execution. Blacks can get pretty long in the tooth once in a while, but that's likely how it's expected to look. It's dark, but the contrast holds up pretty well. The source print looks good. I noticed no problem areas to speak of.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio & Music : 7/6
There's a considerable amount of paramilitary hardware on the move in this movie, with small and large arms fire left, right and behind. It's all captured well enough, if not remarkably. Dialogue is clearly audible and well balanced, even in the thick of things.
Operations : 9
The menu is laid out like other Universal Blu-rays I have seen so far – and they are all very cleverly laid out, indeed. I like the arrows that tell you which way to direct you remote, and the bonus feature instructions are detailed and intuitive. High marks here. The chapter menu includes buttons for U-Control in case you want to approach those functions from that point. And there is also a way to adjust the PIP volume in the set-up menu.
Extras : 3
O dear, not much here. I sampled the commentary, which seemed only to tell us what we can see for ourselves. All of the other features are relatively brief and all in varying degrees of barely acceptable SD resolution. By far, the best was the longest: a little featurette with the charming Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) who also have cameos in this movie, dancing around with other cast members. The other bits are self-explanatory, dull and forgettable.
Recommendation : 4
If you're a true Dead-head then this relatively weak installment of Romero's story is more or less indispensable. The Blu-ray beats out it previous incarnations.
September 27th, 2008