Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Z Nation - Bad Netflix Movie Reviews

Netflix has released a lot of stuff into the interwebs recently, and I would be amiss if I didn't let you know about at least a little bit of the good along with all the bad. And in this case, the subject has kind of a 'so-bad-its-good' vibe to it so I think it still fits the theme. The show I'm talking about is the show Z Nation from the Syfy channel (now on Netlfix). A Walking Dead-style zombie apolocalypse show made by The Asylum, the creators of none other than the Sharknado movies. So I decide to watch it and am thinking: "Of course this show is going to be awful, right? As a guy who loves The Walking Dead, I can't wait to see some crappy-looking zombies get smashed in this B-level spin-off and make fun of it."
 

Wait, no, holy crap! Its actually good! How is that even possible?

I'll tell you how its possible: This movie has all the zombie-smashing grossness of The Walking Dead, but also has a plotline you actually are interested in. I've come to realize that The Walking Dead's plot is essentially: How depressed can we make you? And this is coming from the reader of the comics as well, so I knew what I was getting into. For all of Walking Dead's artsy cred, the 'everything is depressing and hopeless all the time' angle really starts to wear on you when your favorite characters are suddenly killed over and over. But the acting is so good on The Walking Dead that you keep coming back for more punishment, and you should, because as depressing as it can be, its still a darn good show.

Sad Daryl is sad.

In Z Nation, a similar unknown outbreak of zombie-ness occurred, with the same zombie rules: Only headshots work, if you get bit you'll turn into a zombie in a couple hours, and that no matter how you die you become a zombie (even from natural causes). So its a 1:1 zombie rules system between the two shows. At least at first.

Other than the plotline, the differences lie a lot in how the characters treat the zombie apocalypse. First of all, the survivors are fully aware that they are zombies they're dealing with, and call them such. No euphamisms here (ie. "biters" or "walkers" or "what are those things?!", etc), other than occasionally just referring to them as "Z's". Also its got a serious B-level acting vibe to it at first, especially in the pilot. Like the actors think they're in another Sharknado movie so 'Everything Is Said... With Such... Gravi-TAS!' that you think you won't be able to take it, but after the first episode they actually start acting like normal humans. That's pretty normal for pilot episodes of shows though, so don't sweat it. There's plenty of gore to keep you interested even then, thankfully.


The plotline revolves around a criminal who was force-volunteered into getting injected with a zombie antivirus being made by doctors at a military facility in New York, just as its being taken over by zombies. The military officials and docs get away on helicopters but one soldier (Harold Perrineau of LOST fame) goes back for the prisoners, and finds only one survivor. He then has to lead that prisoner (who's been bitten by multiple zombies but not 'turned') to California to the only remaining medical research facility left so they can synthesize antibodies from his blood (Outbreak style). Along the way he meets some survivors and they get into all sorts of misadventures, and most of them involve gruesome zombie kills. On top of that, the show also regularly cuts to a lone military NSA guy who was left behind at a communications relay base on the North Pole. He's all alone and slowly going crazy but his sole remaining purpose in life is trying to use the crumbling internet/satellite infrastructure he has access to to help get the guy immune to zombie bites to California.
Yeah, its that kid from Road Trip.

Each episode of this show gets better and more interesting than the previous one, until near the end of Season 1 you can't wait to find out what the hell is going to happen when they finally make it to a medical facility. This show is no Walking Dead, lets be clear about that. But its still pretty good and its benefit is it carries a lot more hope in it than Walking Dead, so its worth it to check out a zombie apocalypse show that actually has a little hope to offer. Good stuff!

I give it 8 rotting zombie skulls out of 10.
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