Shaun of the Dead (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Feb 20, 2020
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Shaun of the Dead (4K UHD Review)

Director

Edgar Wright

Release Date(s)

2004 (November 5, 2019)

Studio(s)

StudioCanal/Working Title/Rogue Pictures (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
  • Film/Program Grade: A+
  • Video Grade: B+
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: A-

Shaun of the Dead (4K UHD Disc)

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Review

The lasting impact of Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy continues to have repercussive effects on comedy. Starting before the Judd Apatow wave of films dominated pop culture and ending after their reign had waned, the Cornetto films struck a perfect balance between paying homage to the filmmakers and genres of the past, but also crafting characters and universes that resonated beyond their satiric and reverential confines. Equally effective as horror (Shaun of the Dead), action thriller (Hot Fuzz), and sci-fi drama (The World’s End), they are in a class all their own, spawning many imitators in their wake. But none have come close to their quality of writing, acting, filmmaking, and most importantly, repeat value.

In Shaun of the Dead, Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a directionless 20-something with an assortment of personal issues. His girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) wants more out of life than he can offer, which is not much more than frequent evenings at the Winchester pub for pints of beer and snacks. He’s also having to constantly defend the actions of his best friend Ed (Nick Frost), a crude but well-meaning layabout whose very existence annoys Shaun’s antagonistic roommate Pete (Peter Serafinowicz). Feeling compelled to change his life after Liz unexpectedly dumps him, he wakes up to a zombie apocalypse and must step up to the plate to ensure the survival of his family and friends, including Liz, Ed, his mum Barbara (Penelope Wilton), his estranged stepfather Philip (Bill Nighy), and Liz’s friends Diane (Lucy Davis) and David (Dylan Moran).

Shaun of the Dead was shot photochemically on 35mm Kodak film using Arriflex cameras and lenses. It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate at the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, upsampled and graded for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and HDR10+ options are also available on this UHD disc). Universal has utilized the same master as previous releases for this upgrade, meaning than no new scan was performed. However, there’s a definite boost in overall clarity as everything appears sharper and more refined. Grain levels are solid, even heavy during dimly lit scenes inside the Winchester. Colors pop a bit more and blacks are much richer thanks to the new HDR pass. Hues are warmer as well, meaning that greens are greener, and skin tones are much more natural. Everything appears less bright than the previous Blu-ray release, which blew out white levels slightly. The image is also stable and contains only minor speckling.

The audio is included in English DTS-X, with Spanish and French 5.1 DTS-HD options, as well as subtitles in English SDH, Spanish, and French. The new DTS-X track replaces the previous 5.1 DTS-HD track from the Blu-ray, but gives the film’s soundtrack a bit more room, particularly in the surround channels. Gunfire, explosions, and other zombie-related carnage pump from the speakers with plenty of added dimension and bass. The score and music through strong, never overcrowding the soundtrack, while dialogue exchanges are clear and precise. The reference level seemed a tad low, but a quick volume adjustment fixed that.

This package also includes the previous Blu-ray release of the film, presented in 1080p, and the following extras are included on each disc:

DISC ONE (UHD)

  • Audio Commentary with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
  • Audio Commentary with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Kate Ashfield, and Lucy Davis
  • Audio Commentary with Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton
  • Audio Commentary with Paul Putner, Timothy Mark Chipping, Patricia Franklin, and Steve Emerson

DISC TWO (BD)

  • Audio Commentary with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
  • Audio Commentary with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran, Kate Ashfield, and Lucy Davis
  • Audio Commentary with Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton
  • Audio Commentary with Paul Putner, Timothy Mark Chipping, Patricia Franklin, and Steve Emerson
  • Extended Bits: Kitchen Pow-Wow – with Optional Commentary (SD – 1:17)
  • Extended Bits: Body on the Line – with Optional Commentary (SD – 0:29)
  • Extended Bits: Body on the Line/Yvonne – with Optional Commentary (SD – 1:44)
  • Extended Bits: Taxi Driver – with Optional Commentary (SD – 0:26)
  • Extended Bits: Bathroom Blowout – with Optional Commentary (SD – 0:20)
  • Extended Bits: In the Bedroom – with Optional Commentary (SD – 1:10)
  • Extended Bits: Meercats United – with Optional Commentary (SD – 0:18)
  • Extended Bits: Alternate Ed – with Optional Commentary (SD – 0:14)
  • Extended Bits: The Doppelgang – with Optional Commentary (SD – 1:23)
  • Extended Bits: Q.W.A. – with Optional Commentary (SD – 0:25)
  • Extended Bits: David vs. Shaun – with Optional Commentary (SD – 0:58)
  • Extended Bits: More Peanuts – with Optional Commentary (SD – 1:41)
  • Extended Bits: Rifle Trifles – with Optional Commentary (SD – 0:23)
  • Extended Bits: David’s Redemption – with Optional Commentary (SD – 1:18)
  • Extended Bits: Bar Extension – with Optional Commentary (SD – 1:14)
  • Outtakes (SD – 10:47)
  • The Man Who Would be Shaun (SD – 0:35)
  • Funky Pete (SD – 2:04)
  • Plot Holes (SD – 3:27)
  • Simon Pegg’s Video Diary (SD – 6:44)
  • Lucy Davis’ Video Diary (SD – 5:05)
  • Joe Cornish’s Video Diary (SD – 10:16)
  • Casting Tapes (SD – 4:12)
  • Edgar & Simon’s Flip Chart (SD – 13:36)
  • SFX Comparison (SD – 2:25)
  • Make-Up Tests (SD – 2:20)
  • EPK Featurette (SD – 7:10)
  • TV Bits: T4 with Coldplay (SD – 4:21)
  • TV Bits: Fun Dead (SD – 1:05)
  • TV Bits: Trisha – Your Nine Lives Are Up (SD – 1:26)
  • TV Bits: Trisha – I Married a Monster (SD – 1:31)
  • TV Bits: Remembering Z Day (SD – 2:32)
  • Photo Gallery (43 in all)
  • 2000 Ad Strip Gallery (7 in all)
  • Poster Designs Gallery (10 in all)
  • US Trailer (SD – 2:29)
  • UK Teaser Trailer (SD – 1:39)
  • UK Trailer (SD – 1:50)
  • UK TV Spot #1 (SD – 0:22)
  • UK TV Spot #2 (SD – 0:23)
  • Fright Fest Trailer (SD – 1:30)
  • U-Control Storyboards
  • U-Control: Zomb-O-Meter

All the great extras from every previous release of the film are present, including all of the fantastic audio commentaries, but there’s nothing new. Also included in the package is a Digital Copy code on a paper insert.

Universal’s debut of the Shaun of the Dead on UHD is not perfect. A fresh transfer straight off the camera negative would have been the ideal place to start. But as far as a budget 4K release is concerned, it’s still a nice package with decent picture, strong audio, and quality extras. Highly recommended.

- Tim Salmons

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