I don't know how I signed up to review 'Zombie Apocalypse' and 'Ice Quake' without realizing they were both Syfy original movies. Watching one bad Syfy movie in a blue moon is bearable, but two within a six-day period is excruciating! As expected, terrible acting, story, dialog and effects ensue.
Although the cover art and online details title this wretched movie '2012 Zombie Apocalypse,' nothing on the disc or during the movie includes the "2012" part of the title. It's simply 'Zombie Apocalypse,' so that's how I'll refer to it out of rebellion and simplicity.
After the hope-draining "Syfy Original" logo kicks the movie off, we get a quick explanation of how the zombie-causing VM2 virus spread across the globe in just one short month. After this brief intro, we see three rejected 'Devil's Rejects' walking down the street – some actor we've never seen before, one of the girls who plays a dirty prostitutes in 'Hustle & Flow' and "Crabman" from 'My Name is Earl.' Unarmed, these three drifters have somehow survived six months after the "zombie apocalypse." Upon arriving at a hilltop overlooking Los Angeles, they're spotted by a "pack" (or, as 'The Walking Dead' refers to them, a "herd") of zombies. The unknown actor goes down in what appears to be kid-friendly match of tug-of-war just as a group of not-so-baddies (including Ving Rhames) saves Crabman and the hooker.
This is the group that we will follow for the rest of the movie. Each wielding a weapon of choice – be it a sledge hammer, samurai sword, or club – these three have made their way from the East Coast to the West in hopes of Catalina Island being a zombie-free refuge. Their marked-up map contains the locations of safe houses that they'll find along the way. All of this information was, of course, passed on to them by other groups of survivors they've encountered in their journey – but if all of these locations – the safe houses and Catalina Island – truly existed, why would these other wanderers be drifting away from them? Just like this not-so-small factoid, the entire movie is filled with unanswered and unquestioned inconsistencies.
The first thing our newly-expanded group does is find a sporting goods store where the newbies can obtain hard-shelled body armor and weapons - a crescent wrench and an ice pick. The odd thing is that not a single one of the group's previous members wears any body armor, and when they finally get to a sporting goods store, they don't even take any for themselves.
From there, our group heads off to find one of the safe houses – a locked-down high school. When they get there, the dead zombie bodies and broken-down barricade don't tip them off to the obvious and they enter the infested campus and get into a lot of trouble. This is the formula that the movie follows. They make an obviously bad decision, one gets picked off, then they move along. Repeat. SPOILER ALERT! When they get to the dock where the rumored Catalina Island ferry will pick them up, they face the most deadly enemy yet – a zombie tiger. Trust me, it's not as cool as it sounds/should be. END OF LAME SPOILER.
Aside from one zombie who takes a club to the mouth and spews thick black blood everywhere, all of the spurting blood in 'Zombie Apocalypse' is poor CG. Heads chopped off = poor two-dimensional CG. A small gash across a zombie's body = poor CG blood spillage. A paper cut = poor CG. Okay, that last one is a joke, but if there just so happened to be a paper cut written into this crappy script, I'm sure it would have been accomplished via a bad CG effect. No effort was put into making this movie look good. When a character unloads a chain-fed .50 caliper mounted machine gun on a "pack" of zombies, you can clear as day see that no rounds are being fed into the gun, yet horrible-looking CG shells are flying out the opposite side. When distant aerial shots of Los Angeles don't reveal bustling highways and surface streets (which they frequently do), it's only because they've animated a still shot with bad opaque CG clouds, fog and smoke. This is the home-made zombie movie that you or I could make if we had the time and motivation to do so.
Please note that while 'Zombie Apocalypse' is labeled as "uncut and unrated," it's not as edgy as cable zombie series 'The Walking Dead.' The blood and violence is ridiculously fake, there's no swearing (other than the "meow, bitch" catch phrase one character utters while fighting the tiger) and there isn't any sexual content or nudity. The "uncut" means that it's probably 30 seconds longer than the televised version.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Asylum Home Entertainment has placed 'Zombie Apocalypse' on a BD-25 in a standard blue keepcase. Before getting to the B-movie-esque main menu, you're forced watch an Asylum vanity reel and FBI warning, followed by eight (that's right – 8) terrible trailers – '2-Headed Shark Attack,' 'Grimm's Snow White,' 'Air Collision,' 'Amityville Haunting,' '3 Musketeers,' 'A Haunting in Salem,' 'Celebrity Sex Tape' and 'Barely Legal' – be warned, the last two should be labeled as "red band." Of course, all eight titles are Asylum releases.
'Zombie Apocalypse' has received a 1080p/AVC MPEG-2 encode presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.
The camera operator must have been just as qualified to shoot this movie as the screenwriter was to write it because this movie is unfocused. No matter what's happening on screen – action or not – the camera is constantly racking around trying to find a sharp spot, but it rarely does. The sad things is that when it does focus properly, it's actually quite detailed and crisp.
Black level are decent, colors and fleshtones are washed out by the lifeless palette. Aside from a handful of specks and scratches, the print used for the transfer is quite clean. It's too bad that it's muddled down with bad effects, compression artifacts, banding, flickering dense noise and aliasing – all of which are such major players that they should be listed in the credits. At least edge enhancement and DNR aren't a factor.
While trying to set up the audio prior to watching the movie, you'll notice that there isn't a "set-up" option in the main menu. For some reason, those yahoos at Asylum decided to hide the audio options in the "special features" menu. There are two lossy listening options to choose from: Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo and Dolby Digital 2.0.
The 5.1 track isn't terrible, but it sure isn't up to par with the lossless tracks to which we've become accustomed. Being compressed, it's exactly as you'd expect it to be - lackluster. The non-existent dynamics causes the track to sound flat and generic, but occasionally – mostly during zombie fights – it makes strong use of the surround channels. If only they had used good sounding effects to accompany the mayhem.
Unfortunately, the rear channels and the sub woofer are rarely utilized. Whenever the sub woofer becomes engaged, its deep and resonant tones are quite fitting and mood-enhancing for the on-screen action, but those instances are far too few.
Just as I said with 'Ice Quake,' I wouldn't wish this torturous movie-watching experience on anyone. '2012 Zombie Apocalypse' is a highly concentrated dose of bad acting, terrible dialog, an awful screenplay and lame effects, making it a truly all-around terrible movie – even if you're a fan of the flesh-eating zombie genre, which I am. The problematic picture quality is chock full of compression issues. The sharpness and level of detail would be decent if the camera's could stay focused. The audio quality is lacking, both options are lossy and rarely utilize the rear channels and sub woofer. Both the audio and video suffer from bad artificial effects. The only good thing about the lack of special features is that it will allow you to promptly eject this offensively bad Blu-ray and move on to something else, something worthwhile.