Taking the Browns to the Super Bowl

The goal for those surviving in Zombieland is to give a child one day to be a kid. That means a night in a theme park, riding rollercoasters, and whatever else said evening entails.

Zombieland starts in Washington. There’s an upside down flag. The camera twists into proper orientation. Everything is on fire down the street, and a now zombiefied politician charges the camera. That’s why Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) couldn’t be a kid.

Consider Little Rock’s first memory of disaster was likely 9/11. Then war, hate, now zombies. No wonder she’s aloof, partnering as a devious (and innovative) scam artist with Wichita (Emma Stone). They trust no one. It’s not difficult to understand why. All these kids knew was never to believe what they were told.

What a clever setting: the cross-country, road movie across the western US in search of normalcy at a time when things still weren’t right nationally. Just a day, really, is all anyone wanted, where no one needs to run over or shoot the undead – a day away from disaster and lies.

Zombieland sets up for an attack on masculinity, but it’s smarter than that

Contaminated gas station beef started this whole thing. Mad Cow disease, or some such off-shoot says Zombieland. That sounds right, where government failure let such a thing slip through while focused on terrorism abroad. That leads to four disparate personalities looking for belonging, finding each other, and bonding over Ghostbusters – and not-a-zombie Bill Murray.

Jesse Eisenberg plays an obsessive compulsive. He’s a nice kid. Mannerly, kind, and considerate, plus consistent in his hand sanitizer usage. That’s played against Woody Harrelson, leather and cowboy hat-wearing tough guy with a death wish. Zombieland sets up for an attack on masculinity, but it’s smarter than that (doubly so compared to say, the recent Stuber). Eisenberg’s wimpy demeanor is a benefit on these travels, where strict rules keep people alive. He’s capable with a gun too.

While rich in gore and hilariously vulgar, Zombieland finds a certain tenderness in its humor. Memorable contemporary comedies do this now, bringing people together via outrageous antics, or in this case, sublime bloodletting. When the camera rights itself in that opening shot, it’s predicating the events of Zombieland. Different people can fend for themselves when brought together, even as politicians continue partisan lashings. Zombieland’s free-flowing absurdity shows how well that can work, and does with a wide smile.

(Note: Blu-ray screen shot provided by DVDBeaver)

Video

Composed on a film and digital mixture, the mundane source offers limited material to play with when moving to 4K. Resolution sours from the opening moments. It’s soft, muddy, and dry. Definition wanes and minimal definition escapes. Zombieland is a 2K upscale, but even then, the image’s tenor lacks firmness. Spots of noise/grain are handled poorly.

Also meandering, color produces awkward flesh tones. By design, Zombieland’s world stays muted, even overcast with limited saturation. Even with those considerations, vibrancy tanks. Deep color does little to lift Zombieland’s visual spirit.

At least HDR helps. With a fully lit park at night, lights shimmer against a dense, pure black sky. Previous, highlights on chandelier lights stick out. Black levels likewise follow their necessary pattern, firm and rich. That’s little cause to upgrade though.

Audio

Now in Atmos, Zombieland’s soundstage expands slightly. Blood splatters into overheads and rears. Gunshots ring out precisely, especially when Breslin learns targeting before the third act. Zombie snarls pick up in each channel, presenting spot-on directionality.

Range needs a bit more kick however. It’s the soundtrack that catches the low-end most, leaving gunshots somewhat pale. They need subwoofer strength, but it’s simply not there.

Extras

A rarity for Sony, a few extras make it on to the UHD, including an eight-minute retrospective. Shooting Zombies runs 20-minutes, detailing behind-the-scenes work. Note both of these suffer from garish, overblown color. That’s not true for the dull EPK to follow, nor the trailer. The rest stays on the Blu-ray.

A commentary from director Ruben Fleischer, writers Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, along with actors Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg is the start to a decent set of extras. A picture-in-picture track provides various snippets from cast and crew, along with detailed deconstructions of certain scenes.

In Search of Zombieland is the first featurette, a 16-minute making-of that plays out as expected. Zombieland is Your Land looks at locations and sets, followed by seven deleted scenes (unfortunately, none of them with Murray) and four visual effects progression shots. MovieIQ remains, along with some trailers.

Zombieland
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Between the explosive violence and raunchy comedy, Zombieland brings an empathetic story about people coming together in crisis.

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Note: 4K screen shots will likely be added at a later date.