The Asylum // 2011 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 4th, 2012
Mankind survived...but not alive!
The plot summary for 2012: Zombie Apocalypse:
Zombies have taken over the world.
Survivors need to get from Point A to Point B.
Along the way, some will stay alive and some will be eaten.
The best praise I can give a movie like 2012: Zombie Apocalypse is that it wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting. Oh, that's not to say this made-for-cable SyFy cheapie isn't shoddy filmmaking at a level reserved for the clearance bin at your local Dollar Store. It's just that 2012: Zombie Apocalypse surprised me -- and I mean that in the loosest possible sense -- by being somewhat competently made. The movie is barely passable Friday night fare, if your expectations are low (see: nonexistent) and your discerning taste has excused itself and left the room.
What both raises and sinks 2012: Zombie Apocalypse is that it's a collection of zombie clichés and nothing more. While my plot synopsis was slightly tongue-in-cheek, there is little else to the story. The movie doesn't offer anything new or unique to zombie lore, just a lot of scenes featuring the same-old-same-old without the polish of theatrical Hollywood releases. As the story opens, we see three characters walking down the road having the most banal of conversations (for all I can recall it went something like this: "I like puppies." "So do I!" "Let's talk abut puppies." "Sounds good!" "Yeah to puppies!" "AH ZOMBIES!") then being attacked by drooling, puss-filled zombies. This is quickly followed by the same characters meeting a group of other characters (tougher, with guns and gnashing teeth) making their way through the decimated cities and towns of America. And that's about it. First-time screenwriters Brooks Peck and Craig Engler put in minimal effort on the script and its characters, making this an almost greatest hits version of far better living dead movies.
The performances in 2012: Zombie Apocalypse are uniformly bad, often because the actors are given sub-par dialogue. I'd offer up character names, but really...do you care? And if so, that begs the question: Why? Ving Rhames is apparently making his way down the zombie ladder by starring in the Zack Snyder's excellent remake of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, followed by Steve Miner's generally useless Day of the Dead (also a Romero remake), and now Nick Lyon's 2012: Zombie Apocalypse. I fully expect Rhames to make his final bow in a late night zombie hemorrhoid infomercial. A disheveled Taryn Manning (Hustle and Flow) spends most of her time waiting for her paycheck arrive, while the amusing Eddie Steeples (My Name is Earl) ends up a zombie buffet way to early in the story. The rest of the cast is made up of actors I assume are just really excited to be in a movie with Ving Rhames.
Of course, you come to a zombie movie to see how well the filmmakers handle the special effects. Sadly, 2012: Zombie Apocalypse reaches for the stars when all it has to stand on is a stepladder. While a few shots in the opening sequence look good, the budget slowly makes its way south, as each subsequent scene requiring explosions or severed limbs appears to have been rendered on a midlevel MacBook Pro. Nick Lyon (who helmed the sequel Species: The Awakening, among other midnight movie duds) can't seem to frame any of these shots with style. Instead of scaling back the film's scope and trying to do something original with whatever funds were available, the film tries to create effects (you keep seeing the same zombies get killed over and over again) and creatures (like the horribly rendered zombified tiger) that look only half finished. A movie like this could easily be something as entertaining as the low budget classic Return of the Living Dead, if it only had the smarts and wherewithal to focus on character and atmosphere rather than trying to "play with the big boys," as it were.
2012: Zombie Apocalypse (Blu-ray) is presented in high definition 1.78:1/1080p widescreen. I have very little to say about the transfer except that it's passable; budgetary constraints clearly dictated this was not going to be a "blow you out of your seats" kind of experience. The audio appears to be 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround, though only 5.1 Surround is listed on the package. Again, while there are a few instances where this mix is above average, it's just a mediocre auditory adventure. No alternate language tracks or subtitles are available.
In terms of bonus features, we get a making-of featurette (typical EPK stuff), as well as a short gag reel, and trailers for other Asylum films.
Let's face it, none of this should come as any surprise to anyone foolish enough to rent/buy a movie called 2012: Zombie Apocalypse. You get what you pay for, which in this case is low quality zombies in high definition.
2012: Zombie Apocalypse isn't the worst zombie flick ever, but that
isn't saying much.
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: The Asylum
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Gag Reel