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The Dead 2 (2013)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/16/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/17/2014
In the last decade or so, we've seen a lot of zombies movies and the sub-genre has certainly proven itself to be homogenous. Before that time, movies featuring the living dead were somewhat erratic, so it was more difficult to spot the patterns. But, now, if you are brave enough to wade into yet another zombie movie, you'll be treated to the same story and cliches over and over, not to mention the tropes which are regularly trotted out on The Walking Dead. Therefore, any unique, no matter how slight, will jump out in a zombie movie. That's one thing that 2010'sThe Dead had going for it, as it took the typical urban undead story and placed it in the wilds of Africa. The makers of that film, The Ford Brothers, are now back with a new exotic adventure in The Dead 2.
The Dead 2 picks up not long after the events of the first film, which detailed a zombie virus outbreak in Africa. A man who was bitten in Africa returns home to Mumbai, India, and a new outbreak begins, with the undead filling the streets and craving human flesh. American Nicholas Burton (Joseph Millson) is working in the countryside on a wind farm, when he receives a call from his girlfriend, Ishani (Meenu), describing the chaos in Mumbai. She is safe for the time-being, as she is at home with her father (Sandip Datta Gupta), but Nicholas vows to get to her. Thus, he finds himself on a trek across a treacherous land which is not only inhospitable, but covered in flesh-eating zombies as well. Soon, Nicholas meets Javed (Anand Gopal), a young orphan boy who just may be his savior.
The problem with The Dead was that it spent too much time resting on its laurels. It introduced the unique idea of opening up the stereotypical claustrophobic zombie movie to include a huge territory, and then did little with it. We learned nothing about the characters and the individual scenes brought nothing new to the genre. Personally, I found the movie to be very boring. And yet, the film garnered enough attention and presumably enough money to warrant a sequel.
Well, The Dead 2 also brings something unique to the screen, as it's that rare sequel where the filmmakers clearly learned from their mistakes. Now, don't get the wrong idea, in many ways, The Dead 2 is almost a carbon-copy of its predecessor. Again we have a man who is attempting to cross a country in order to be with his loved ones. As in the first film, a traveling duo is created, with each member being from a different race. We again witness the characters struggle with a lack of weapons and reliable transportation as the zombies continue to close in. At first glance, it would be very easy to write off The Dead 2 as a quick cash-in on the first film's success. (I know that's what I did.)
However, give the movie a chance and you'll see that The Ford Brothers have tweaked things just enough to make this movie not only engaging, but actually enjoyable as well. First of all, we actually get some character development this time. We don't learn the life stories of Nicholas and Javed, but we get enough to want to stick with these characters. And, unlike the first film, where the main character was on a trek to see a vague "family", we actually see what is happening to Ishani and grasp why Nicholas feels that he must get back to her. Yes, it's manipulative having a man paired with a young boy, but at least we get a sense of why these two decide to journey together. The paternal issues which arise, and which tie into a larger story, give the movie some much-needed depth.
The Dead 2 is definitely an improvement over its predecessor, but it's still far from perfect. The zombies actually don't have enough of a presence here. There are rarely more than a handful in any given scene and they only attack when it's necessary to move the story forward. There isn't much violence here, but we do get a few moments which have some suspense. Also, I wasn't crazy about the film's ending, but that's nitpicking. The Dead 2 won't change the face of zombie films, but it's good to see the experiment by The Ford Brothers to go on a world tour with their zombies has grown in quality.
The Dead 2 made me wonder if Nicholas was supposed to resemble the main character from the Uncharted video games on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a slight hint of grain at times and no defects from the source materials. Most of the film takes place during the day in desert-like terrain, and this creates a picture which shows off a nice amount of depth and detail. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. Also, the image is rarely soft. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.6 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The first thing which jumps out about this track is the significant subwoofer action, which really adds to the film. The stereo and surround effects are nicely done as well. The front channels show good separation and there are moments where we get individual sounds coming from the rear.
The Dead 2 Blu-ray Disc contains only two extra features. "The Making of The Dead 2" (29 minutes) has Billy Chainsaw (?!) interviewing the Ford Brothers, who talk about many facets of the film. This is intercut with clips from the film and on-set footage showing the brothers at work. This piece helps to give us an idea of what shooting in India was like. The Disc contains two DELETED SCENES which run about 2 minutes, and don't include any new ideas or characters.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long