I wasn’t the biggest fan of Land of the Dead when I saw it many years ago, but seeing it again now, I really enjoyed this entry within the Romero canon as the social commentary, albeit in your face, is present and there are characters one can actually care for.
Land of the Dead
— Collector’s Edition —
Shout Factory | R/Unrated – 93 min. / 97 min. – $34.93 | October 31, 2017
Date Published: 10/13/2017 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE — 4.0/5
Note: This portion was copied from Brad Lowenberg’s 2008 Blu-ray review.
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 ARGNETO). 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 – 4.25/5
This two-disc release comes with a matted slip cover and the inner cover is reversible revealing the movie’s original poster artwork. The opening on the second disc is a memoriam for George A. Romero.
Disc 1 (Theatrical Version):
Like the interviews on Dawn of the Dead: Collector’s Edition, these are all fascinating to watch, each one expressive recalling their work on the film. Probably the most interesting one was Leguizamo.
Dream of the Dead: Director’s Cut (24:40; HD) is a 2005 documentary that aired on IFC. Includes optional commentary with Director Roy Frumkes.
Deleted Footage from Dream of the Dead (18:03; HD) are scenes that didn’t make the cut.
Deleted Scenes (2:55; HD) – Here we get footage from Land of the Dead that failed to make the final film.
Also included is the Theatrical Trailer (1:45; HD) and a Photo Gallery (9:12; HD).
Disc 2 (Unrated Version):
The first track is newly recorded for this release as the four offer their perspectives working on the project while Romero’s is far more detailed and fascinating listen.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
|Land of the Dead grunts onto Blu-ray through Shout Factory shown in its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and the Theatrical Version has been given a new 1080p high-definition transfer culled from 2K scan of the internegative, yet no new transfer was mentioned for the Unrated Version, probably because the scenes were switched around and would’ve taken more work. Still, both cuts looked really good in HD as detail looks sharp and nicely defined throughout, colors have some pop for the daylight or interior scenes and blacks are fairly stark for the numerous night time shots.|
AUDIO – 4.0/5
|Like its Dawn of the Dead counterpart, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track offers up clear dialogue through the center channel and some good depth is on display for the action scenes making usage of the front and rear channels while the LFE does kick on here and there to minimal effect.|
OVERALL – 4.0/5
Overall, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Land of the Dead when I saw it many years ago, but seeing it again now, I really enjoyed this entry within the Romero canon as the social commentary, albeit in your face, is present and there are characters one can actually care for. The Blu-ray released by Shout has good video/audio transfers and an excellent selection of bonus features.
Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.