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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Z for Zachariah

October 19th, 2015

Z for Zachariah - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
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Z for Zachariah

Z for Zachariah opened below the Mendoza Line, but it was also a VOD premiere, which never helps the box office numbers. Should it find an audience on the home market? Or was it going to fail at the box office no matter how its was released?

The Movie

The film takes place in a post apocalyptic world where we see a lone figure in protective gear collecting items in a small town. When their alarm goes off, they head back to the even smaller village they call home. When they finally remove their mask, we see its a woman, Ann. She lives in a beautiful valley with her dog and absolutely no one else. About five minutes into the movie, she spots a vehicle of sorts. While she checks it out, her dog runs off, but returns barking when someone returns. They hide only to see a Power Rangers villain return to the vehicle. I shouldn't joke. This is a serious movie and a very well made movie, but the guy's hazmat suit looked like it was from a low-budget 1970s movie where the hero hunts mutants. Only the mutants would be wearing this suit.

Anyhoo... Ann follows the man, whom we later learn is John Loomis. After checking his equipment, he gets out of his hazmat suit, celebrates finding a clean place, and travels to a small waterfall where he begins to wash off. She warns him to get out of the water, but he freaks out. It's clear he wasn't expecting to see anyone. When she explains the water comes from outside the valley and is contaminated, he gets out immediately, but it is too late. He begins to become ill and when he get to his vehicle, he's shaking too badly to give himself the medicine. She is able to take care of him and over the next few days / weeks he begins to recover.

They talk about what happened, but don't go over what made the outside world so dangerous, at least not in any detail. John's a scientist and he was in a bunker when it happened. Ann and her family just happened to live in a valley within high mountains where the ecology is separate enough to not be effected by the radiation. At least that's John's hypothesis. Ann's more of a miracle kind of gal. Unfortunately, while Ann's family survived the initial disaster, her parents went out looking for more survivors. Later her younger brother went looking for them. None of them have returned and Ann knows they are very likely dead.

Once John recovers a little more, he begins to help at the farm. Ann and him get to know each other and begin to grow closer... which is where we begin to get into spoilers. It's a movie with only three characters and we haven't even gotten to the third character, Caleb, and we are already running into spoilers.

Z for Zachariah is, in essence, a character study set in a post-apocalyptic world, a world where the three people we see might be the only three people left alive. The film is based on a book by Robert C. O'Brien and the story has some great ideas and these are ideas were kept in by the screenwriter, Nissar Modi, while the director, Craig Zobel, got some very impressive performances from his actors. Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of my favorite actors and I'm still upset he didn't win an Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, so I wasn't surprised that he was terrific here. On the other hand, I have made fun of Chris Pine in the past, but this could be his best performance that I've seen. This movie also boosted my opinion of Margot Robbie greatly. It is still too early to tell how good an actress she will be, but she's made some great movies so far.

The Extras

Extras are on par with limited releases / VOD premieres, starting with an eleven-minute making of featurette. There are four deleted scenes with a total running time of six minutes. Finally, there are extended interviews with the director, writer, and the two lead stars. These have a total running time of 20 minutes.

The technical presentation is solid, for a low budget film. There's very little visual flash here, even some of the nature shots have muted colors. However, this is an aesthetic choice and not a flaw in the transfer. Likewise, this is a dialogue driven drama and there's very little in the was of dynamic effects. Watching this on DVD or Blu-ray won't make a huge difference.

Fortunately, the Blu-ray only costs $15, which is $3 or 25% more than the DVD. That's a good price for this type of release.

The Verdict

Z for Zachariah is a post-apocalyptic movie that isn't about the apocalypse, but is instead a character study. The script is great and the actors are all amazing. Definitely worth checking out. The DVD and Blu-ray are not loaded with extras, but easily worth picking up.

Filed under: Video Review, Z for Zachariah, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Pine, Craig Zobel, Margot Robbie, Nissar Modi, Robert C. O'Brien