One of the best films of 2009(Not kidding!), "ZOMBIELAND," is now available on blu-ray, from SONY. While the theatrical trailer left this reviewer uncertain as to what to expect from the actual film, "ZOMBIELAND" is one of the most original, refreshing, entertaining, laugh-out loud funny, sweet, films of recent memory. Sure, some will be turned off at the idea of zombies serving as the main nemesis in the film, but they could've been replaced by victims of any contagious, deadly disease or dangerous roving gang. For, in fact, "ZOMBIELAND" is more about a young man without family, trying to find a new one, and also finding or experiencing "first" love, than fighting the undead.
Jesse Eisenberg stars as "Columbus, the narrator and main character of the narrative, throwing out his rules for surviving a world wherein zombies run amok, as well as commentary on events unfolding. For those who may have been turned off by his characters in earlier films, his performance as Columbus, is perfect. Eisenberg never becomes annoying, with antics and personality traits coming close to the neurotic replica of a young Woody Allen, but stopping short of that line and, instead, becoming endearing rather than merely laughable. He's a sweet kid, living on his own, away from any family when the beautiful girl from down the hall at his apartment complex(Apartment #4 is how he refers to her)bangs on his door frantically one evening. Upon letting her in, this beautiful dream-girl tells him she was chased by a homeless man, and that he'd tried to bite her. The script respects the audience enough to let them put two and two together! While Columbus is ecstatic about this girl he'd never have the nerve to approach, asking to stay with him for the night, and falling asleep beside him, head on his shoulder and lap, when he morning comes, she's turned into a zombie, bent on killing him! It's a great sequence, and sets up the style, and underlying sweetness of the film, while making one feel total empathy for this guy's character and situation.
The audience is pulled in quickly, and the blend of humor and sweetness, is perfectly balanced throughout the film. As new characters are introduced, along with the potential for the narrative to falter, it does the opposite! The initial appearance of Woody Harrelson is brilliantly crafted and sets up the relationship between these two, carrying it honestly throughout. Harrelson's performance here is just as mesmerizing as it was in "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN!" When these two meet two other survivors, likeable but devious sisters, the story becomes even more involving and the sense of these characters becoming a much needed "family" of sorts, for one another, is palpable, as it adds another layer onto a carefully thought out script. At 88 minutes, the magic of "ZOMBIELAND" is just right! It doesn't ever feel sluggish, and instead of feeling "short," it leaves the viewer wanting a sequel, but remaining satisfied. The blend of zombie-gore and side-splitting humor is reminiscent of "GHOSTBUSTERS in many ways. Sure, effects are more gruesome today, but "ZOMBIELAND" never tries to relish in gore, opting for the genuine humor instead.
SONY has provided the correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio for this AVC MPEG-4 1080p blu-ray. The colors are rich and vibrant throughout! Shot digitally, the level of depth is often amazing. Scene-after-scene, offer jump-off-the-screen type of depth one hopes for with this high-def format. Inky blacks ensure none of the detail is lost in darker scenes. "ZOMBIELAND" deserves a place in every film-lover's blu-ray library for many reasons! But, knowing the image is of reference quality makes it that much more deserving!
SONY has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Seldom has a director utilized music and an array of energetic effects with so much creativity. From the opening sequence of the film, nuanced and more pronounced discrete effects come together with a creative and energetic payout. The environment achieved here is consistently immersive, and, more importantly, fun! The dynamic range of this lossy mix ranks "ZOMBIELAND" up there with the best sounding blu-ray mixes that have ever been released.
SONY has provided some great extras. A picture-in-picture commentary track offers insight regarding the development of specific scenes, utilizing cast and crew interviews and more. An audio commentary track with Harrelson and Eisenberg, the writers and director, is also fantastic, and shouldn't be missed! There are so many commentary tracks available on dvd and blu-ray, but this one, with these five guys, is amongst the best.
"IN SEARCH OF ZOMBIELAND" is a 1080i featurette examining the zombie make-up, balance of humor and horror, and the film's origins.
"ZOMBIELAND IS YOUR LAND," is a 1080i featurette, examining the production design and more. Deleted scenes(1080p)offer some intriguing extra moments, and while all are worthwhile, none make the already great film, greater. There are other extras, including 1080p trailers, and BD-LIVE features. Also, a digital copy is offered.