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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Battery (Blu-ray)
The Battery (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // Unrated // September 16, 2014 // Region A
List Price: $19.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted September 22, 2014 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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THE FILM:

Click an image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p resolution.

Jeremy Gardner's post-apocalyptic The Battery is a good movie without qualifiers, but it is a pretty great movie when you consider the budget is only $6,000. Gardner also stars with Adam Cronheim; an unlikely pair of uneasy friends brought together by the end of the world. Zombies have overrun the entirety of New England thanks to an unspecified event, leaving the duo to scavenge the land for shelter and food. The Walking Dead this isn't: The Battery is more concerned with how its protagonists cope with their high-risk surroundings. The men bond and bicker, each personifying the other's definition of irritating but also providing an opposite and necessary set of skills. The soundtrack is great if somewhat hipster-baiting, and the film's finale is uniquely intense. I look forward to seeing Gardner and Cronheim evolve as filmmakers.

The film opens on Mickey (Cronheim) smoking a cigarette and listening to music in headphones. Minutes later, Ben (Gardner) comes charging out of a house, shooting at an unseen enemy. Both men hightail it to relative safety, and the argument begins. Ben deals with the sobering reality of a zombie-infested world head-on, honing his scavenging and hunting skills, remaining alert and sober, and killing any zombies he encounters. Mickey escapes from reality in music and drink, and has yet to kill a zombie. The pair played semi-pro baseball together before things went south, but were not especially close friends. They escaped from an infested Massachusetts house when Mickey's family did not, and began life on the road together.

This the first "zombie" film I have seen in quite awhile that uses the undead effectively. The Battery depicts a world frustratingly dangerous and empty, and I suspect living in this void would be as maddening as it is for Mickey and Ben. The zombies are always there in the background, but mostly pose a danger to the men if they are attacked while sleeping or cornered indoors. There is an interesting scene when Mickey spies an attractive female walker. I'll let you watch that bit unspoiled. Where most genre films are stocked full of callous and unemotional characters, The Battery leaves its leads vulnerable and raw. They have lost family and friends, and each failed attempt at further human contact is unsettling.

The film looks like it cost far more than $6,000, and Gardner shoots the heavily improvised project with a keen eye for natural lighting and framing. Many shots look downright beautiful in the unsettling dusk, and Christian Stella's cinematography captures the stark beauty of the abandoned suburban landscape. There are minimal effects, but the zombie make-up used is effective. There is essentially a road-trip movie, and there is plenty of forward motion as the men travel around looking for supplies.

I enjoyed the film's soundtrack, with contributions from Rock Plaza Central, The Parlor and Wise Blood, and the tunes are integral to Mickey's character. The film occasionally overuses the music-and-landscape montage, ala Garden State, but the scene where Ben steals Mickey's headphones for a night of boozy dancing is hilarious. Both Gardner and Cronheim are very good in these roles, particularly in the film's emotional climax, and their on-screen relationship is consistently believable. The Battery is a strong directorial debut for Gardner and a refreshing take on the genre.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

This digitally shot movie receives a strong 2.35:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image from Scream Factory. The visuals are generally crisp and clean and look very good considering the miniscule budget. There are some expected digital hiccups like blown-out contrast and black crush, but colors are nicely saturated. Texture and depth are good, and skin tones are accurate. I noticed no compression issues or noise reduction.

SOUND:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix does a nice job reproducing environmental effects like crickets, wind and lumbering zombies. The song-heavy soundtrack receives some nice support and depth via the surrounds and sub. Dialogue is clear and without distortion, and both balance and range are appropriate. There is a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix included, and English subtitles are available.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This single-disc release is packed in a standard case with double-sided artwork. There is an Audio Commentary with Writer, Director and Producer Jeremy Gardner, Producer and Actor Adam Cronheim, and Director of Photography Christian Stella. This is a casual, chatty commentary, and these men provide excellent information about the shoot and origins of The Battery. Tools of Ignorance: The Making of The Battery (1:29:20/HD) is an excellent piece with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, and the filmmakers reveal their love of the genre. You also get Outtakes (11:37/HD); the film's Trailer (1:59/HD); and Rock Plaza Central at the Parlor (10:48/HD), which features one of the bands from the soundtrack.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This is a very impressive zombie road trip film. Director Jeremy Gardner makes a promising debut with The Battery, in which he stars with Adam Cronheim. The pair traverses a post-apocalyptic New England searching for food and shelter and bickering along the way. This is an interesting addition to the genre, and I enjoyed the depiction of the men's environment-strained relationship. Highly Recommended.


Additional screenshots:

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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