Shaun of the Dead
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It is only natural to be scared of zombies, and to prevent them from laying waste to your home. A more relaxing approach, however, is to be bored and vaguely annoyed by them, or, better still, not to notice them in the first place. This is the premise of Edgar Wright's British comedy, which may be responsible for kicking off a new and specialized genre of slacker horror. Shaun (Simon Pegg) lives a supremely uneventful life, which revolves around his girlfriend (Kate Ashfield), his mother (Penelope Wilton), and, above all, his local pub. This gentle routine is threatened when the dead return to life and make strenuous attempts to snack on ordinary Londoners. The finale, in which the pub turns into an Alamo, is the bloodiest, most orthodox, and least witty part of the movie; far sharper are the early scenes in which Shaun wanders happily to the local store along a battered, zombie-dotted street and pulps his attackers with a cricket bat. The central joke is so snappy and well sustained that you barely catch sight of the ominous vision on offer: a country that already feels like death. -Anthony Lane
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker
British horror/comedy Shaun of the Dead is a scream in all senses of the word. Brain-hungry zombies shamble through the streets of London, but all unambitious electronics salesman Shaun (Simon Pegg) cares about is his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), who just dumped him. With the help of his slacker roommate Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun fights his way across town to rescue Liz, but the petty concerns of life keep getting in the way: When they're trying to use vinyl records to decapitate a pair of zombies, Shaun and Ed bicker about which bands deserve preservation--New Order they keep, but Sade becomes a lethal frisbee. Many zombie movies are comedies by accident, but Shaun of the Dead is deliberately and brilliantly funny, while still delivering a few delicious jolts of fear. Also featuring the stealthy comic presence of Bill Nighy (Love Actually) and some familar faces from The Office. --Bret Fetzer
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What I love about Shaun of the Dead is that it's solidly in the zombie movie genre, complete with the right amount of blood and gore and terrifying mindless masses of the undead. Its genius lies in balancing genuine scares and a palpable sense of dread, punctuated by sprinklings of lighthearted humor. Other zombie movies have tried to be funny but ended up being over-the-top and ridiculous, in my opinion. This one is smart and fun in all the right ways while also being ominous. It's a very hard balance to strike and this film manages it in a surprisingly skillful and effortless manner.
This movie introduced me to Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, both of whom I enjoy tremendously now. I watch nearly every movie I can find which features either of them, or both preferably. It's been cool to see them mature and nice to know they're no longer relegated just to buddy comedies anymore. For example, I totally did not expect to find Nick Frost in the AMC series 'Into the Badlands'. Coming across him in an action TV show made me feel warm and fuzzy like I was coming home. He provided welcome comic relief and it was nice to see him in a role where he's not playing a stupid, bumbling oaf (well, not entirely anyway) and his character is shown in martial arts combat! My, how far he's come since Shaun of the Dead.
The best part is the first half. He is going through his day and so many people are so spaced out you can't really tell if the zombie epidemic has started or not. Then after it starts, he is so used to people being out of it, and the neighborhood's casual vandalism, that he walks by half a dozen or so zombies without noticing them. I went back and watched the first half again, it was that good. Simon Pegg is spot on as the average man / everyday hero.
I have nothing bad to say about the film itself, however the last 20 minutes of it feels a little rough. What I do criticize is its blu-ray release. U-control is the most annoying feature I have seen in my dvd/blu-ray collecting career. Nobody wants to watch this film 7 times to receive all the special features. Put them in block segments and featurettes, instead of creating little pop-ups that play during the movie non-simultaneously. Not only did Universal fail me in this disc, but Pegg and Wright did as well. It was an annoying joke to put 3 commentaries on this release. If you like to watch all the special features to get the most out of your money, Shaun of the Dead will be a big time-waster. I liked the first commentary, but the remaining two were unnecessary. Treat your films seriously and provide fans with a blu-ray that enjoyable. I felt like Edgar Wright provided three commentaries to annoy the blu-ray collectors purposefully.
I summed it up before: Great Movie, Tedious Blu-ray. That's all you need to know if you're going to upgrade to hi-def. The picture and sound is great, but the features are a drag. So, if you're only purchasing this disc to watch this excellent film, then for you this is a five star blu-ray release.