Picking up immediately after the thrilling cliffhanger, Negan forces Rick and the group to fall under his will, brutally convincing them to live by his rules. To prevent further bloodshed, Rick genuinely believes they can make life under Negan, however terrible, work. But he soon learns that Negan can't be reasoned with, and they must prepare to go to war now. Victory will require more than Alexandria, and Rick will need to convince their new allies from the Kingdom and Hilltop to band together with the common goal of taking down Negan and his army.
Season 7 of The Walking Dead took the life out of both the audience and some of its characters. I know a lot of people who have stopped watching the larger-than-life zombie series this season, due to the cheap tactics the show creators used in the final moments of season 6. When season 7 opened, we saw two main characters killed off in a horribly brutal way by Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) barb-wired bat, Lucille. After this episode, we see Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his new family of survivors like we've never seen them before. They are all helpless, hopeless, and very submissive in every way possible to the rule of Negan. I think this aspect and with how the filmmakers handled the opening episode really turned a lot of people off from the show. We are so used to seeing Rick and the other survivors overcome any obstacle, but with this seventh season, there is only pain, sorrow, and death at every corner, which is upsetting to see your main, strong protagonist in such a pitiful state.
In my opinion, though, I think it was all necessary to grow and develop just how horrible, yet charismatic Negan really is. One of the big problems I had with this season was its premiere with the two deaths that happened within a couple of minutes of each other. It didn't give you time to grieve or mourn these two vital characters, which I guess can be seen as realistic in this apocalyptic world The Walking Dead has created, but with how important those characters were, it felt just brushed off to the side and not given its due time. The rest of the season, however, is quite impressive and introduces a slew of new factions and people. We get to see the inner workings and living conditions of Negan and his followers, along with their brutality and ironic rules.
In addition to this, season seven introduces us to a new group of survivors called the Kingdom, which is led by a good man named King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and his pet tiger, who become allies with Rick and are basically in the same boat as Rick's survivors. There are some great set pieces that feature a zombie filled carnival and junkyard with yet another group that is reminiscent of characters from a Mad Max film, along with a quiet hidden village that only consists of women. The first half of the season splits up our group for most episodes, as they are trying to survive in their different locales and coming to terms with Negan. During the final few episodes of this season though, reunions are more abundant and we see Rick gain his confidence back and start to lead a revolt against Negan and his people the Saviors, which sets up this upcoming 8th season.
What Season 7 does so well here is establish that Rick and his family are not always going to win the day and that they may lose all hope. It's a rough few episodes to get through and see your favorite people break down for so long. The other great aspect of this season is Negan himself. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays this amazing and very layered villain perfectly. On one hand, this is the worst person imaginable who is capable of killing kids at the blink of an eye or torturing anyone who gives him lip. On the other hand, he has a point worth debating in his thinking and has standards and ethics that he abides by, making him somewhat likable.
Then, of course, there are a ton of new zombie kills with buckets of blood, guts, brains, and gooey innards to satisfy the gore-hound inside you. Despite a laughable and horribly rendered CGI deer in the carnival episode, visual effects are still top notch, making this seventh season one of the most brutal yet.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This release comes with five 50GB Blu-ray Discs with all episodes spread across four of the discs and all of the bonus features included on the fifth disc that is Region A Locked. There is an insert for a digital download along with a multi-page booklet/catalog of al the cool merchandise you can buy in The Walking Dead department. The discs are housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.
The Walking Dead Season 7 comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Much like the past seasons, this video presentation looks great from top to bottom. Detail is sharp and vivid in all lighting conditions, from the sun drenched days to the darkest of nights. Practical effects are stunning, to say the least, with every bloody wound, gash, decaying body, and intestine showing all the imperfections and gooey textures to a realistic degree. No detail is left unturned here, which is fun and gross all at the same time.
Wider shots never go soft either where practical effects are on screen. When bigger moments of CGI is the main effect, whether it be a big zombie horde or a fake deer eating grass, the detail looks softer, but it's not a major disappointment at all. In fact, the scene where the two cars mow down thousands of zombies with a metal cable looks impressive with every body part and ounce of blood and guts showing up easily and well detailed. I'd also like to point out the CGI tiger, which was given a lot of love here. Every hair on its body can be seen flowing in the breeze and always has the right lighting conditions on it. There was never a time it looked fake, unlike that deer. The show has a good layer of grain, giving it a filmic quality and not the overt digital look, which is always nice.
Colors are natural and well balanced here with blood running with different shades of red along with the lush greens of the trees and grass. Other than that, the blue skies and the orange on the tiger are more or less the only real primary colors here. The rest are dull and decaying browns and grays, which always gives a sense of dread in this show. Black levels are always deep and inky without any crush an d the skin tones are natural. There were no issues with major banding or aliasing either, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
This release comes with a lossless Dolby TrueHD MA 7.1 mix and sounds excellent, immersive, and quite scary. Sound effects of zombie growls and moans are full and robust. They pack a good gurgle and low end that has a bit of bass to it that makes you feel uneasy. Their rustling and bumbling through the grass, fences, and woods all bring realistic noses to the surrounds and their environments.
There are also tons of gun blasts, hits, kicks, take downs, and explosions this seasons that all pack a good punch with heft and great dynamics and directionality. Distances of gun blasts all sound in sync and well balanced and provide a chaotic ambiance. Other zombie growls, nature noises, and people talking or screaming all sound great in the rear speakers too. The sound effects of Michonne's sword as it slices its victims sounds wonderful as well.
The score to the show always adds that sense of tension and dread and adds that extra layer of entertainment to each scene. The bass kicks in during the bigger action sequences or when cars drive by without crossing into rocky territory either. Dialogue is always cleanly presented and easy to follow along with and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills.
The Walking Dead Season 7 is the most bleak and rough season yet as we see our group of survivors lose all hope and become slaves to Negan. Fan favorites perish while others break down and succumb to their nasty nature. It's hard to watch, but also it's more redeeming to see when Rick and his family decide to step up and do something about their dire situation. It's a great season for sure. The video and audio presentations are both top notch and there are a ton of excellent extras, all of which are worth watching. Again, this season is a Must-Own!
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.