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Night of the Animated Dead (Blu-ray+Digital)
Some movies make me question the motivations of the producers, such as Night of the Animated Dead, a new iteration of an old horror, the progenitor of the modern zombie movie. I'll leave those questions behind though, to enjoy this, a second (or third, depending on how you count) animated version of the movie that has had many, many lives. Does the movie, a remake of George Romero's seminal indie horror classic Night of the Living Dead live up to its pedigree? I guess it depends on how many times you've seen the original, its remakes, and Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated. Though far more explicit in this animated form, the movie otherwise doesn't do much to add to Romero's legacy.
Barbara (voiced by Katharine Isabelle) and her punk of a brother are visiting their father's grave on the outskirts of Pittsburgh when a weird old dude starts harassing them. Turns out he's dead, and wants to eat them. He gets half the job done, but Barbara manages to escape to a nearby farmhouse where she encounters Ben (Dule Hill) who has his act together, which helps when their slightly pitiable stronghold is made to hold an additional family of refugees from the mysterious zombie hordes.
The storyline of Night of the Living Dead should be well-known to most horror fans, but they're making new ones every day, so it's worth the above precis. But, for you seasoned viewers, you might be wondering if it's worth another go around for this property. While director Jason Axinn and eight producers have, through the good graces of the freedom of animation, been able to show what happens when Ben encounters of a mob of zombies at Beekman's Diner, (a scene only described by soliloquy in the original movie) they don't bring much more to the table other than increased levels of cartoon gore.
All of which should be well and good, for those looking to kill 90 minutes of hard-earned free-time. The voice actors turn in good work, (especially Will Sasso in an odd turn) and when a character's demise is updated to include their head getting sheared off at the jawline, there's some value to that. But in all, Night of the Animated Dead is simply the same movie rehashed yet again, with frankly sub-par animation (and no offense intended to all of those who worked hard on this movie). For a movie that's all about ‘animation' it would have been nice to see work that wasn't a few clicks above that seen in a ‘motion comic'. Character designs are simplistic, motion itself is basic and pedestrian, and any effort put into voice acting is negated by faces that don't move very much at all. In essence, anything done to add to the original movie's legacy is taken away by visual elements that not only aren't inspiring, they're dispiriting.
One wonders why Night of the Animated Dead got made, other than to generate more profit off George Romero and screenwriter John Russo's original classic. While this iteration of the oft-repeated source movie adds more graphic violence, it otherwise doesn't improve on the fairly bullet-proof original. In fact uninspired, off-the-shelf animation, simplistic and generic, detracts more from the movie than is added by extra brain-matter. While it might be fun as a bargain rental, I personally would feel just fine if I had chosen to Skip It.
Coming at you in a 1.78:1 ratio, 1080p high-definition presentation, Night of the Animated Dead looks great! It would be hard to not look great considering the dearth of visual information on display. The simple, basic animation is crisp and clean, and details hold up throughout, such as they are.
Your audio options include English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as French, German, and Spanish language 5.1 tracks. Audio elements are given a spatially dynamic workout, with good response in all frequencies. Dialog is mixed appropriately with sound effects and music, for a pleasing result.
In addition to a Digital Code, a 10-minute Making Of featurette leans heavily into the realms of a standard Electronic Press Kit, though it does provide some insight, especially as regards the voice actors. On the other hand, producers let fly a few Industry Buzz-Words, indicating where their true intentions lie.
Night of the Animated Dead remakes Night of the Living Dead in a fashion for which there was no demand. The plot and beats are pretty faithful to the original, with extra helpings of cartoon gore, but the actual animation falls far short of inspiring. Clunky and simplistic, the visual elements drain any enjoyment viewers might have been able to glean from this cash-grab. Unless you're extremely hard up for entertainment, it is safe to Skip It.