Shaun of the Dead (HD DVD) (2004)
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Dylan Moran,Kate Ashfield,Lucy Davis
Audio Commentary-Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Edgar Wright|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Shaun (Simon Pegg) is coasting through life without a thought for tomorrow. He has a dead-end job at an electronics store, shares a town house with his no-hoper mate Ed (Nick Frost) and spends the bulk of his free time either on the lounge playing video games or at his local pub, The Winchester. Problem is, his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield) has bigger plans in her life and feels Shaun is destined to eek out his existence without ever seeing the wide world. Liz cuts Shaun loose, and he is devastated. To top things off, Shaun has issues with his step-dad, Paul (Bill Nighy), which is a source of constant worry for his mother. Shaun wakes the next morning and decides to sort his life out - but those plans won't last long.
Rather than taking the opportunity to face up to the relationship issues in his life, Shaun is unwittingly thrown into the midst of a zombie outbreak in his London suburb. Local people he knows well are transforming into flesh-eating monsters, and news reports vehemently advise residents to secure their homes. Of course, Shaun knows better than to believe what you see on TV, so with the help of his mate Ed, he hatches a plan to rescue Liz and his Mum and escort them safely to the serene, safe confines of the place he knows best: The Winchester.
The plan sounds simple, but Shaun soon finds that in order to save the two women in his life, he must include his overbearing step-dad and Liz's annoying flat-mates. This adventure will not only test Shaun's leadership skills, but his ability to use a cricket bat as a weapon. Destroy the brain!
No other film blurs the chasm between zombie-horror and rom-com quite like Shaun of the Dead. This is an hilarious, hugely popular comedy with a proven cult following. The laughs are constant, although it does resort to fart gags a few times, but there is so much detail this is the kind of film that stands up to many repeat viewings.
The original Region 4 SD release was reviewed by GregM here.
The transfer has been mastered at 1080p resolution and compressed via the VC-1 codec. The transfer also maintains the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in a native 16x9 frame. The image is slightly pillar boxed on the left and right sides, so the picture is not exactly tight to the frame.
The presentation is consistently sharp, with nice textures to be found in everything from the bricks of buildings to hair and clothing. While it's certainly not in the league of HD transfers such as M:I:3, I would certainly say that the Shaun transfer presented here far outdoes any SD rendition of the film I have seen. Shadow detail and black levels are quite striking in their depth, particularly during the darker scenes in the pub towards the end of the film.
Colours are rich and lifelike. The rich blood reds leap off the screen and never appear oversaturated.
There are no visible compression artefacts as far as I can see, nor are there any dire film artefacts present. I noted a few very small specs of dirt here and there, but nothing serious. A very slight amount of film grain can be seen, but I would scarcely call it an issue.
An English subtitle stream is included and may be selected via the setup menu. The text is relatively accurate, however it abbreviates the spoken word a little.
The content has been authored on a dual-layered HD DVD disc (HD-30).
The film's original English soundtrack is presented here in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, along with a French dub and several audio commentaries.
The English dialogue is generally easy to discern throughout the film. I don't recall the dialogue ever being overpowered by effects and the mix is certainly very good, bright and full of depth. Audio sync is fine.
This film employs very good use of the surround channels for directional effects and the like. At 4:48 the computer game sound effects can be heard in the rear left channel as the camera passes the television. Passing vehicles and traffic noise are often prevalent, as well as atmospherics, take for example the scenes in which Shaun walks from his flat to the grocery store. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel.
The score is comprised of numerous contemporary rock and pop songs, too many to mention. All are relevant and suited to the film; the Queen hit Don't Stop Me Now is particularly prominent. A couple of familiar pieces of music have been culled from various horror films, the likes of Goblin and the theme from Romero's original Dawn of the Dead. I would very much like to pick up the film's soundtrack CD sometime.
The subwoofer activity is surprisingly effective. Many thuds leap at the viewer, accentuating explosions and gunfire. The score also makes great use of the LFE channel, particularly those pieces of music with electronic elements.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is huge array of bonus material that should keep the average viewer busy for a while. Only still items fill the 1.78:1 frame, while a few are presented in HD, noted below.
The menu page is animated with familiar scenes from the film, accompanied by eerie music that progressively increases in volume as the menu rotates. The menu structure is along the lines of other Universal HD DVD releases, with screen saver that loads after three rotations of the menu. The disc is also coded with a handy progress bar that appears when you fast forward or pause the film.
The viewer is able to commit their favourite scenes to the player's memory by pressing 'B' button on the remote. These can be accessed again whenever the disc is inserted.
The film's primary cast all get along well and share some very funny moments in this commentary as the wine begins to flow, discussing the events on set and challenges that were encountered during filming. They all discuss their various casting and audition experiences, as well as the locations and locals they had to deal with. Simon points out numerous dialogue changes that were made and explains scenes that were shot but not included in final cut. This is an informative and generally entertaining commentary.
This commentary is much more detailed than the previous one, but is still easy to listen to. Edgar goes into great detail about the soundtrack music, casting and directing challenges, and plenty of info relating to the film's development and production. The guys often point out tributes to other zombie films that are present and fuss over details in the production design. There are very few pauses in their banter and the lads are constantly talking about interesting, relevant subjects.
Follows the production from early make-up tests to principal photography at Ealing Studios. We see the cast interacting on location as well.
We're shown script read-throughs for each of the main cast members, as well as a bit of messing-about with the camera. The script readings are from familiar scenes in the film.
Simon and Edgar talk us through their flip-chart version of the film, drawn out on large pieces of butcher's paper. This illustrates how closely the finished film represents their original vision.
This piece looks at each of the filmed elements that comprise the scene in which a zombie is impaled. Each stage of the CG process is shown.
Illustrates the various make-up tests that were performed, as well as some CG enhancements that were applied in post.
This is your typical television 'making-of' piece, with brief cast and crew interviews (including Bill Nighy) and behind the scenes footage. It's surprisingly revealing for its length.
Forty-three photos taken during production, showing the cast and crew at work.
This section is comprised of detailed scans of the comic-strip that appeared in Prog. 1384 of 2000 AD magazine. Each frame may be zoomed manually via your remote to show more detail. There are seven pages in total.
Ten alternate pieces of poster art, some of which are very good.
This section contains four television segments that are only very briefly seen in the film.
This is the US theatrical trailer, complete with cheesy voice-over.
There are a few alternate sequences, but most are gag-reel material. Two brief pieces show storyboard-style drawings depicting what happened during 'plot holes' in the film.
There are fifteen extended scenes, with missing pieces of character interaction that were cut for pacing reasons more than anything. These are playable individually or as a whole, with an optional audio commentary from Edgar and Simon.
A pair of zombie eyes appear in the top right hand corner of the screen when a storyboard relevant to the current scene is available for viewing. These stills are branched with the feature, so the film is interrupted when storyboards are activated. I would have preferred to see these utilised in a U-Control feature, personally. I also noted that menu screens were rather jittery and slow to load when this feature was activated.
This is essentially an informational subtitle stream, clarifying colloquialisms and slang within the film's dialogue and providing facts about the production and soundtrack. This one is definitely worth your time.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video transfer is great.
The audio transfer is excellent.
The extras are extensive and certainly worth your time.
|DVD||Toshiba HD-D1, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.|