Land of the Dead (2005) - Unrated Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Horror / Thriller
Universal || Unrated - 97 minutes - $29.98 || September 30, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-09-24


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: George A. Romero
Writer(s): George A. Romero (written by)
Cast: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento, Robert Joy


Theatrical Release Date: June 24, 2005


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • U-Control (BD Exclusive)
  • Feature Commentary
  • The Remaining Bits
  • When Shaun Met George
  • Scream Tests
  • Bringing the Storyboards to Life
  • Scenes of Carnage
  • Zombie Effects


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

When it was announced that Romero, after almost 20 years, was coming out with a new Dead film I was ecstatic. Finally, after so many years of re-watching the trilogy I would have something new to sink my teeth into. After reading the numerous spoilers throughout production and the fact that some of Day of the Dead's originally script would be re-worked into it... I couldn't be thrilled more. Then, it came out and while I found it to be decent, it certainly did not meet the hype nor was it as good as the remake of Dawn of the Dead.

Land of the Dead takes place some years after the events of Day of the Dead. Most of the world has collapsed and we now see what’s left of it has formed its own unique class system where the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. That's where we meet our gang of heroes Riley (Simon Baker) and Charlie (Robert Joy) - - two men who work for the powerfully rich Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) who owns 'Fiddler's Green', a rich city within a poor one. Not only do we have our two heroes working for him, but some less than civilized people as well like Cholo (John Leguizamo) who desperately wants to please Kaufman at all costs so he can move into the Fiddler's Green and enjoy fine living and avoid zombies altogether.

After working for Kaufman for some time, Cholo gets denied access to fine living and in return, steals Dead Reckoning - a powerful tank that is used in raiding over towns for supplies and is an unstoppable machine that could take down everything that Kaufman has built. Kaufman enlists the help of Riley and Charlie (who built Dead Reckoning) in return to free a local dancer at a bar (Slack, Asia Argento). We soon find ourselves in a mess full of zombies... which is exactly what I want to see.

Land works and fails so many times its hard to really call this a "must see". I didn't like Land at first, but over the past few years and multiple viewings it’s certainly grown on me just like I initially hated Day of the Dead when I first saw it, but now I find myself putting it as the second best Romero film, well above Night, Land and Diary. The ultimate downfall for Land is that it just came out way to late in the game. We've already had the Zombie genre thrown in our faces so many times in the past few years (28 Days Later, Resident Evil, Dawn of the Dead remake, Shaun of the Dead), that at this point; it’s become a bit stale. Romero did nothing to re-invent himself 20 years later and it clearly shows. Why Romero chose to go so CGI heavy here is beyond me (the 'string head' zombie... oh boy)

Probably the biggest disappointment for many is the character 'Big Daddy'. Introduced within the first few minutes, he is Land's 'Bub' zombie, but most people hated him. With very little personality, he stumbles from scene to scene gathering other "unique" zombies who try to sue their "human" abilities to take over the town. While the character is rather boring, they eventually do show off a pretty amazing scene which is all the zombies coming out the water at the same time... stunning.

But don't worry...there is still plenty to love about the film. Not only do we get a small cameo by our favorite talking zombie Bub (in the bar scene, he's attached to the wall), but several other small throwbacks to previous dead films as well. Acting is decent, though not as good as the original Dawn of the Dead. Asia Argento does an amazing job and I really wish they would have given her more screen time as she clearly knows what she's doing. Simon Baker is alright, and although I typically don't like John Leguizamo, he does an admirable job here.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

U-Control - Universal signature features takes some of the 'missing' features and throws them in this track to be played at the same time as the film. While I don't mind U-Control, I wish they would make all the features available in standard form so I could view what I want, when I want. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Commentary with George A. Romero, Producer Peter Grunwald and Editor Michael Dohery - I'm sorry, did you wake me up? Yeah, this is a very boring track which is a real disappointment since I love Romero.

The Remaining Bits (~2 Minutes) - A handful of deleted scenes... nothing really great here just mainly snippets.

When Shaun Met George (~8 Minutes) - Remember how great Shaun of the Dead was? Remember how the title of the film was literally a rip of all of Romero's films? Well, the two finally meet...and this is a pretty damn good extra! Don't forget to look for his cameo in Land...

Scream Tests (~1 Minutes) - Umm... these are some zombies dancing.

Also includes Bringing the Storyboards to Life (~10 Minutes), the very short Scenes of Carnage montage and Zombie Effects.

What’s missing from the previous DVD and HD DVD? “Undead Again - The Making of Land of the Dead” and “A Day with the Living Dead”. They seem to be included on the U-Control track though. Overall, besides the Commentary everything else is pretty short and sparse. While the disc may seem loaded, in reality there is very little to watch.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Land of the Dead is presented in 2.40:1 on a 25GB disc. As a previous DVD owner I was floored to finally see this film in HD and was delighted that Picture Quality was certainly boosted for the Blu-ray (and HD DVD) release. I flipped back and forth between my DVD and Blu-ray copy and noticed right away colors were much more vibrant and blacks more defined. If you have the previous DVD, do yourself a favor and pick up the Bu-ray version!

Universal has sliced up an English 5.1 DTS MA track for this gruesome release. While certainly not one of Universals best, I still enjoyed this track throughout the film. It has its moments (fireworks, zombies) it was still a rather plain track. I compared it to my HD DVD copy (which uses Dolby Digital Plus at 1.5mbs) and found the DTS MA to sound a bit richer, but not night and day difference.



.::OVERALL::.

Land of the Dead may not be one of Romero's best films in the Dead series, but its still a decent horror flick and if you're a fan, you have no reason to skip this release. For HD DVD owners with some of the Special Features being cut for this Blu-ray release it makes it a hard recommendation as the slightly boosted Audio Quality (Dolby Digital Plus on HD DVD) is not enough for me to lose the special features.