This “Special Edition” of “The Walking Dead” re-release is pretty odd as we rarely see a double dip for a television series, not to mention one on Blu-ray high-definition. As it is, the release itself is pretty good from the show itself being a great zombie horror/thriller to the features including an expansive documentary and commentaries on all six episodes.
Genre(s): Horror, Drama
Anchor Bay | NR – 292 min. – $59.97 | October 4, 2011
Directed by: Various
Writer(s): Charlie Adlard & Robert Kirkman (graphic novel); Frank Darabont (developed by)
Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Laurie Holden
Features: Episode Commentaries, Featurettes
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
Zombies are all the rage these days. Wait, isn’t that Zombies? Or Werewolves? I keep forgetting what the flavor of the month is, but one thing is for sure – zombies are pretty damn hot and they are everywhere. Thanks to films like Zombieland, studios are taking more risks on films/shows about them and The Walking Dead is a prime example. Feeling eerily like one of Romero’s Dead films, mixed in with a ton of drama and expendable characters, this show has everything going for it. Well, except for some lazy writing and generic characters.
Based off graphic novels series from Robert Kirkman, Frank Darabont has given it his one special feel and twist in the TV Adaption. Brought to by the TV Network AMC (Really? Yeah).
So what’s these Six episodes about? It’s merely setting us up for what will likely be a fantastic Season Two. When the show starts out, Police Officer Rick Grimes gets shot and put into a long coma. When he wakes up, he stumbles out of the hospital (nearly identical to that of 28 Days Later) to find the world has changed around him. Everything is empty. Where is everyone? Dead. Well, almost everyone. As he attempts to go home, he runs into his first ‘walker’ (or geek as the show puts it often) and slowly figures out that a good chunk of society is dead and he’s all alone.
Since the First Season is only 6 episodes (running about 45 minutes long), this really feels like a long, sprawling movie. AMC played it safe by only ordering six episodes (the show was filmed in its entirety before the first episode aired and I bet with the ratings, AMC is kicking themselves now), so things tend to happen pretty damn quickly. As Rick searches for his Wife and Son, he soon finds others like him, alive, trying to survive. Eventually he is reunited with his Wife and Son (pretty early on) and a bunch of others and they decide to try and forge on in search of a place where they can live peacefully – without fear of walkers.
Without giving away too much I’ll touch on what works and what doesn’t.
The Walkers (aka Zombies) – These are very well done (In my Opinion) and they feel almost like individual characters in the show. Though, I do have to say, in some episodes, they are hardly seen often leading to tedious “character development” which comes on a bit too strong.
Rick Grimes – A strong character who viewers will look up to and feel his pain as he walks into his home and finds his Wife and Son are not there. He leads many individuals on several journey’s and ultimately succeeds and winning us over.
Story – I’ve got to say, this feels a lot like Dawn of the Dead. They travel to department stores, scavenge for goods and even the Walkers themselves feel and look like they are out of that film, opposed to other Romero films.
Camp attack – Won’t ruin this one for you, but gees… this is a really well done scene that left me with my jaw on the floor. And it’s so damn sudden.
What Doesn’t work:
Characters – There are so many characters that we meet that ultimately suck. Don’t even bother learning their names – they are often killed off at an alarming rate. Add to that they have an IQ likely lower than that of a walker (loud noises attracts Walkers…so don’t let it blare and alert them where you camp is, idiots). For the most part, they are fairly one dimensional and serve little purpose aside from feeding the Walkers.
Some Plot points – Again, not wanting to ruin this for you, but some of the decisions that are made are just plain stupid.
Drama – Look, it’s hard for people to understand that the show really is about the humans and not the Walkers. I’ve read a ton of people disappointment with how much time is spent on the humans, and they are right. Much like my ranting above, they need to focus more of the zombies and cut back a bit on the humans.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
Episode Commentaries – All six episodes features commentaries with a variety of people involved in the series including series developer/writer Frank Darabont, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Consulting Producer Greg Nictoero, Directors Gwyneth Horder-Payton, Ernest Dickerson & Guy Ferland, and Actors Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), Jon Bernthal (Shane Walsh) & Laurie Holden (Andrea).
Pilot Episode Presented in Black & White – Same concept as what Darabont did with The Mist, it provides an entirely different atmosphere and a call back to the 1950s/1960s low-budget horror.
We Are The Walking Dead (57 Minutes; HD) is an expansive three part documentary on the making of the season going through the development process and the usual behind-the-scenes footage giving insight into how creators and actors approached the series.
KNB and the Art of Making Zombies (17 Minutes; HD) – I’ve seen so many of these over the years, but it is interesting to see how some of the zombies were done.
The VFX of The Walking Dead (12 Minutes; HD) – Similar to the above feature, this one deals with the CGI and more of the technical speak of how some of the gunshots and such are integrated into the show (and the makeup)
The Walking Dead Phenomenon (13 Minutes) – Read the comics before? If so, this one isn’t for you. But if you haven’t, this is a nice introduction into that world (which is significantly different from the show in many ways)
Adapting the Dead (7 Minutes) – How tough is it to turn a comic book into a TV Show? Apparently pretty damn difficult.
Killer Conversation: Frank Darabont & Greg Nicotero (13 Minutes) – Frank and Greg talk about the show. Little weird considering Frank was fired from the show just days after ComicCon 2011.
The Making of “The Walking Dead” (30 Minutes; HD) – A fairly standard making of that has Darabont talking about why this show is different from other Zombie shows/movies and how the show evolved from the Comic Book.
Inside The Walking Dead – Each episode is presented with a rather short ‘making of’. Each varies in time, but typically only a few minutes.
Make-Up Tips (8 Minutes; HD) – One of the Artists shows you, the viewer, how to apply makeup to look like a Zombie. Yawn.
Convention Pan with Producers (11 Minutes; HD) – A Q&A from Comic-Con 2010 before the show premiered. Pretty useless now that that the Series has aired…
Rounding out the discs are several smaller features not really work checking out. Zombie School (3 Minutes; HD) is a quickie on how to act like a Zombie, Bicycle Girl (5 Minutes; HD) shows how the first Walker we see was created (which are pretty damn creepy – best Zombie I’ve seen in years on TV/Film). And then we have On Set with Robert Kirkman (3 Minutes) who quickly takes us on a tour around the sets. Hanging with Steven Yeun (4 Minutes) is a quick glimpse of the guy who plays Glenn (who still looks like a grown-up version of Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). Almost done here folks… Inside Dales RV (3 Minutes) is a look inside the RV (yawn) and finally On Set with Andrew Lincoln (4 Minutes) is yet another quickie with the star of the show.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
“The Walking Dead” is presented in 1.78:1 on 2 BD50 Discs. Since AMC is only shown in SD here at my house, I was delighted to finally see this in HD. I won’t let that cloud my judgment here because of the obvious visual jump, but the Blu-rays are simply average. A dark show filled with grain and a low budget does not make for an exciting picture jump.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
Anchor Bay has included an English TrueHD Lossless 5.1 Track for this release. Thankfully, the audio is pretty darn good with the noises of leaves rustling in the rears and dialogue coming across nice and clear.
OVERALL – 4.0/5
This “Special Edition” of “The Walking Dead” re-release is pretty odd as we rarely see a double dip for a television series, not to mention one on Blu-ray high-definition. As it is, the release itself is pretty good from the show itself being a great zombie horror/thriller to the features including an expansive documentary and commentaries on all six episodes. However, I would caution to wait for a price drop, especially if you did purchase the first release.