Release Date(s)2009 (October 1, 2019)
Studio(s)Columbia Pictures/Relativity Media (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B+
Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) doesn’t like people. That’s good because they’re all gone, what with the zombie apocalypse having happened and all. Columbus survives by a strict set of rules (“Double tap!”), but must become a little more flexible when he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) on the highway. Teaming up, the pair heads East cross-country—Columbus hoping to find his parents and Tallahassee to find a Twinkie—but get hustled by sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) at an abandoned grocery store. The girls steal their wheels and head in the other direction to California, so the boys go after them to get even. Soon enough all four are stuck with each other on an unlikely road trip, hoping to survive and find meaning in a world that wants to eat them.
Zombieland is certainly ridiculous, but that’s precisely the key to its charm. It fully embraces the comedy of its premise and situations with tongue-in-cheek irreverence, mixing absurd humor and blood-spatter horror together in a fresh take on the zombie genre. The chemistry of its four cast members, as unexpected as it might seem, actually works perfectly. Director Ruben Fleischer’s first feature (his most recent was Venom), Zombieland came seemingly out of nowhere when it appeared in theaters back in 2009. It also features what is surely one of the best film cameos in recent memory.
Zombieland was shot mostly on 35 mm film (in Super 35 format) using Arriflex cameras, but a few shots (including the opening) were captured digitally using Panavision Genesis and Phantom cameras (one of the first big screen uses of the Phantom, in fact). It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate at the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. It appears that the DI was upsampled for this UHD release and graded for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 only is available). Titles, VFX shots (as well as those with on-screen text), and the opening tend to look a little soft, but the rest of the film offers a decent uptick in resolution. Texturing and fine detail are good (if not outstanding) and there’s light to light-moderate grain. The color is sometimes slightly desaturated by design (to grant a slightly cold, overcast look), but the wider gamut lends it more nuance and naturalism. Other scenes, including the opening credits, are particularly bold looking—check out the firefighters’ coats and the flames around them. The expanded contrast results in deep but detailed shadows even in daylight scenes and bright, almost eye-reactive highlights. On the whole, it’s a solid upgrade.
The 4K disc also offers a new English Dolby Atmos mix that’s an even bigger upgrade. The stage feels larger and more spacious than before. Sounds linger in the air just a little longer, resulting in greater immersion and highly atmospheric and scene specific environments. Subtle cues abound in the surrounds—insects, road noise, etc. Staging is a bit more precise, with smoother movement. There’s nice play in the height channels during the opening credits, gun battles, as well as enhancement of overhead bat and club swings, and especially in the film’s amusement park climax. Clarity remains excellent, as before, while low end sounds firmer and more robust. Additional audio options include English, Parisian French, and German 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Descriptive Audio, and 5.1 Dolby Digital in Catalan, Czech, Quebec French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish Voice-Over, Portuguese, Russian, Castilian Spanish, Latin Spanish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian. Subtitle options include English, English SDH, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovene, Castilian Spanish, Latin Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and Ukrainian.
The 4K disc itself includes the following extras:
- Raised from the Dead: Zombieland, A Decade Later (8:30)
- Shootin’ Zombies with Ruben Fleischer (20:05)
- Behind the Scenes with the Cast and Crew of Zombieland (7:27)
- Theatrical Trailer (2:03)
Raised from the Dead is new and features your first look at footage from the upcoming sequel, as well as new comments with the filmmakers and all four cast members.
The package also includes the original Blu-ray release (the same disc as before) which adds the following additional material:
- Beyond the Graveyard Picture-in-Picture Track
- Audio Commentary with Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Ruben Fleischer, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick
- In Search of Zombieland (15:57)
- Zombieland Is Your Land (11:59)
- Deleted Scenes (7 scenes – 5:27 in all)
- Visual Effects Progression Scenes (4 scenes – 2:08 in all)
- Theatrical Promo Trailers (5 trailers – 6:04 in all)
A couple of those deleted scenes are pretty good (there are one or two very funny but very quick shots). The commentary is lively and worth a listen (though the female cast members’ perspective is missed). There are also preview trailers for other Sony titles and of course you get a Movies Anywhere Digital code on a paper insert.
Zombieland is a modern comedy gem. If you’re familiar with the film, you know this already. And if you aren’t, now’s the perfect time to catch up with it before the long-anticipated sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, finally hits theaters next month. This is also a decent 4K upgrade of the previous Blu-ray—especially sound-wise—and is certainly recommended for fans.
- Bill Hunt