In this highly anticipated new season, we see Rick and the group of survivors fostering a thriving community in the safe haven of the prison. Sadly, in this brutal world, happiness is short-lived and walkers and outside threats are no match for danger brewing inside the fences. The group’s home and new way of life will be thoroughly tested, and their struggle to survive has never been so perilous. Season 4 also introduces several new characters including Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr., The Wire).
"In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living." That's a quote on the back of every 'Walking Dead' trade paperback, and it truly packs a punch that makes you sit down and think about what your life would be like in a post-apocalyptic zombie world. And those words couldn't be any more accurate in AMC's season four of the hit zombie series 'The Walking Dead'. You could call this a zombie show, but it's so much more than just a series about the undead.
The zombies are merely the backdrop for this epic series, this is more of an intense character study on how humans could survive such dire conditions and consequences under the maximum amount of pressure and threats from all angles. As we see undead's guts spilling out week after week, we also get to see each character come to their wits end and make that harsh choice as to whether it is better to keep trying to survive or call it quits in this dark world. We've seen tons of zombie films before with decent characters and good zombie death scenes, but never have we seen such an in depth look at what humanity might resort to in taking on every element in a zombie plagued landscape, and these sixteen episodes of season four perfectly capture those chaotic moments.
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is still leading his group of survivors as they try to make the prison their home. They have fortified the prison to keep the undead out, and for a very brief moment, the people seem safer than normal and maybe even a little happy. Rick has even thrown down his guns and taken up growing a garden of fresh vegetables and fruits to help feed his new family, rather than be in charge of destroying every decaying brain of a blood thirsty walker. Some of the children are even learning school related subjects, and people are trying to carry on the new normal lifestyle, considering the harsh world outside their prison.
Besides the ongoing threat of being eaten by zombies, a new threat enters the survivor's lives in the form of a severe virus that gives the worst of flu like symptoms and quickly incapacitates its victims and can even kill them, which means more zombies inside the prison. Unfortunately for the survivors that we have come to love, that is not the only hazard to deal with. A recent dangerous threat with a sinister goal is making his way with new people to destroy Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and the other survivors at whatever cost. And now the survivors must act quickly and transform into killing machines to stay alive and possibly be forced out of the prison they call home and fear being split up or worse...
What season four does so well in the 2nd half is focus on one character for each episode, rather than the lot of survivors. This allows us to grow closer to each person and journey with them through their anguish, hardships, and painful moments. It also gives us a chance to get into each survivor's psyche and see what makes them tick or what sets them off, or for lack of a better term, what makes them human. There are many times where each character wants to call it quits and just give up, but this season shows us just what each of them are willing to do to keep alive and fight another day, which at times can get pretty dirty.
In addition to the excellent story-telling, the actors have really found their comfortable groove and have completely made these characters whole and real. Their expressions and dialogue delivery are impeccable each episode and rustle up all kinds of the emotions in us. On top of that, the series still looks amazing visually in the outskirts of Atlanta. 'The Walking Dead' Season Four is the best season yet and is filled with such tragedy, chaos, and emotional suffering, that there isn't anything like it on television at this time. But when we see our favorite characters fight for their survival and the survival of those they hold dear to them the show truly shines. This remains one of the best series on television.
'The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Like the previous seasons, this video presentation is excellent and completely faithful to the show's original source material. The image is vivid and clear, but also has a slight filmic quality to it as well, as it has a very slight layer of grain to give it an organic look. The detail is crystal clear and shows off every tiny detail throughout the show. The outstanding makeup effects look incredible on this transfer, as you'll be able to make out each scar, wound, and bubble of blood perfectly. The wrinkles, dirt, and individual grimy hairs on the actors' face are also very noticeable, as well as the stitching in each costume.
The wider shots are equally as impressive as the closeups, which give this television series a great sense of depth, whether it be a wide shot of a horde of zombies walking through the woods or a battle between to human groups in front of a prison, the image looks amazing. The colors also look very good as well and seem to be muted here and there to give us that slight apocalyptic effect. However, when blood and guts show up on screen, it's a deep red, which is always nice. There are some great looking greens, browns, and yellows throughout the show too that simply pop off screen. Black levels are deep and inky and have a slight amount of crush during the extremely dark lit scenes. The skin tones are always natural as well. There were no instances of any banding, aliasing, or any other stability issue, which leaves this fourth season with high marks.
This release comes with a demo worthy lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio mix. This is what every horror and zombie movie should strive for audio wise. If you want to close your eyes and pretend you're in a zombie apocalypse type scenario, then put this show in your Blu-ray player and crank up the volume. You'll be completely immersed in their frightening world. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand at all times. It's perfectly balanced on the center channel and has great directionality often. The sound effects are very realistic, robust, and loud. Each gun shot, crunch, body hit, and blood curdling scream sounds excellent from all speakers.
You'll be able to hear a fierce gun shot, while hearing faint zombie growls on the rears, and screams on the other surrounds. It's quite an experience. There were even several times when I checked the windows of my house and checked behind the other rooms for zombies, because the sound is so realist and impressive. The sound design is so intricately executed that the volume of each sound effect and voice are constantly changed, depending on where the character or action is happening, which gives this audio presentation a life of its own. The opening title music packs a powerful punch too with the rest of the music and songs playing nicely without drowning any of the dialogue or sound effects out. This audio track is one of the best out there.
All of the bonus features are on the fifth disc of the set, with the exception of the audio commentaries.
Audio Commentaries - There are six audio commentaries in total on the episodes '30 Days Without An Accident', 'Internment', 'Too Far Gone', 'After', 'Still', and 'The Grove'. On these select key episodes of season four the cast and crew give a detailed and informative, if not fun commentary track. Producers, writers, makeup effects guru Greg Nicotero, and some of the actors from the show sit in for the commentaries. They talk about some of the fun stories while filming on location, the writing of the episode, and some of the technical difficulties that were endured on the show. If you're a fan of the show, you'll want to listen to these.
Inside 'The Walking Dead' (HD, 83 mins.) - Sixteen small featurettes on each of the sixteen episodes that run about 5 minutes each, give or take. These small behind the scenes extras have the cast and crew discussing the story, the characters, the overall tone and themes of each episode, as well as a look at some of the creatures.
The Making of 'The Walking Dead' (HD, 78 mins.) - Just like the extra above, here are sixteen featurettes for each of the sixteen episodes that run about five minutes in length. Instead of focusing on the characters and themes of the show, like the extra above does, this one dives into the actual production of the show from the camera work to the action and stunts, to the blood and guts.
Drawing Inspiration (HD, 6 mins.) - A glimpse at how they took certain panels form the comic book and shot them for the television show, and how sometimes the comic inspired certain shots and added scenes to the series. This extra was great.
Hershel (HD, 8 mins.) - The cast and crew discuss the character Hershel played by Scott Wilson in detail and how much fun he is on set and how much they love the character.
The Governor is Back (HD, 9 mins.) - The cast and crew discuss this character's story arc in this fourth season in detail.
Society, Science, and Survival (HD, 6 mins.) - Interestingly enough, a few professors and students discuss some of their online courses that integrate 'The Walking Dead' into their lectures, essays, various fields of study. 'The Walking Dead' is everywhere.
Inside KNB Studios (HD, 19 mins.) - This is my favorite extra as it has the makeup effects team discussing how they made the cool zombie puppets, costumes, and blood and guts through this fourth season. We even get to see how they made and tested the entrails and decapitations too.
A Journey Back to Brutality (HD, 9 mins.) - The cast and crew discuss Rick Grimes' character in detail and his emotional journey through this fourth season.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 10 mins.) - There are eight deleted scenes in total that give a small glimpse of some additional character development and interactions between the characters. There are no extra zombie kills or gore here.
'The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season' is the best season of the hit AMC series yet, and it continues to be one of the best human character studies ever put on television. The storylines, the characters, and the zombie gore are all first rate here. The video and audio presentations are both demo worthy and pack a powerful punch. And the excellent treasure trove of extras make this set a must own!