Combustible Celluloid
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With: Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Emma Bell, IronE Singleton, Melissa Suzanne McBride, Jeryl Prescott, Madison Lintz, Michael Rooker, Andrew Rothenberg, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Adam Minarovich, Lennie James, Adrian Kali Turner, Chris Banks, Noel Gugliemi, Noah Emmerich
Written by: Frank Darabont, Charles H. Eglee, Jack LoGiudice, Robert Kirkman, Glen Mazzara, Adam Fierro, based on graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard
Directed by: Frank Darabont, Michelle Maxwell MacLaren, Gwyneth Horder-Payton, Johan Renck, Ernest R. Dickerson, Guy Ferland
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 292
Date: 31/10/2010

The Walking Dead (2010)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Corpse of Action

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Created by Frank Darabont, based on graphic novels by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard, the AMC TV series "The Walking Dead" remembers one of the most elemental ideas about zombie movies: it's not about the zombies. With Night of the Living Dead (1968), George A. Romero invented the modern zombie, but also managed to use the zombies only as dressing for a story about humans, and the volatile relationships between them. "The Walking Dead" doesn't have any real issues to deal with; it mostly wants to "hook" viewers into watching the next episode, and so it plays a bit more like "Lost" than like anything Romero might have dreamed of. But thankfully, it's a bit less hysterical than "Lost" and it works.

Andrew Lincoln stars as Rick Grimes, a Georgia police officer who gets winged in a shootout and goes to the hospital. When he wakes up, it's something like a month later, and everyone is gone. The hospital is in a shambles. He finds corpses all over, but he also finds a locked room, a sign slathered on its doors: Don't Open... Dead Inside. Before long he meets Morgan (Lennie James) and Morgan's son Duane (Adrian Kali Turner), and learns the truth. Zombies have taken over and the world is at an end. He decides to go into Atlanta, where there is supposed to be a huge shelter. This turns out to be a bad idea, but he runs into another band of survivors and teams up with them.

In a camp just outside the city, Rick is finally reunited with his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and his son Carl (Chandler Riggs). Unfortunately, Lori thought her husband was dead and has been sleeping with his best friend, Shane (Jon Bernthal), who has assumed command over the survivors. Of course, other little dramas spring up among the other humans, and zombies attack from time to time. The visual effects seem to be mostly computer-generated, and they're plenty gory. The first couple of episodes include shocks and blood, but as things move on, the characters begin to take center stage. Sadly, a few characters with interesting setups, such as Shane, or such as the angry hillbilly Daryl (Norman Reedus), end up going nowhere; they just begin to blend in with the herd.

Fortunately, the show has enough surprises and enough emotional pull to make this 5-1/2 hour first season fly by. It's one of those shows that are like candy; you just can't wait to bite into the next one. Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist, etc.) directed the pilot episode, which runs just over an hour, and the other episodes are about 45 minutes each. Anchor Bay released the first season on a two-disc Blu-Ray set. Extras include lots of behind-the-scenes featurettes, footage from a panel discussion, and a trailer.

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