November 9, 2012

Blu-ray Review: Outpost - Black Sun

Nazis and zombies always seem to make an interesting mix for cinematic bad guys, wether it be a recent outing like Norwegian export Dead Snow or a B-classic like Shock Waves (starring Peter Cushing, no less). Sadly, they are not all winners, no matter how much we want to like them, occasionally they stumble as the meander their way to the finish line. Such is Outpost: Black Sun. Sure, it has an interesting way of creating its zombies, but the movie just mopes along, ensuring that you never have any actual emotional investment.

It turns out Outpost: Black Sun is actually a sequel. Prior to watching the film, I had no idea, although after reading about its predecessor, I am not sure it really matters not knowing it beforehand. Outpost, released back in 2008, starred Ray Stevensen (Punisher: War Zone) as the leader of a mercenary team hat finds itself battling zombie Nazis in an old WWII bunker. This time out we have a young woman hunting down Nazi war criminals who ran the concentration camp her family was in.

Lena (Catherine Steadman, who resembles Maggie Gyllenhaal) is on the hunt for a Nazi named Klausener. Her search leads her to eastern Europe where she teams up with a scientist Wallace (Richard Coyle). They are not exactly after the same thing, but they are headed in the same direction. Before long, they for themselves in the middle of a firefight between a group of soldiers and some seemingly invulnerable Nazi zombies.

The two join up with the soldier squad and move onward to their objective. They wind up in a bunker where they must fight for their life against, you guessed it, Nazi zombies. Secrets will be revealed and the set up for a third film will be laid down.

Outpost: Black Sun has a pretty big scope. It has some unexplained war going on Easter Europe with the Nazi zombies, a war criminal hunting woman, and a scientist looking for an old Nazi machine. Everything dovetails into one path, providing is our heroes and our Nazi fodder. Still, a lot of it seems unexplained, rather than feeling like a complete movie universe, I always felt one wrong turn away from walking off the set. The only reason for these people to be is the movie, for example, the soldiers know about the magnetic nature of the machine and it's effects on the zombies, evidenced by the presence of an EMP.

The biggest sin the movie commits is that it is boring. It is very slow going and he characters wee just not all that interesting. I never felt any reason to care about them. Now, I like plenty of movies that do not have characters I like, but this one felt like it needed them. Lena is clearly the one meant to connect with the audience, but she is ultimately the damsel in distress, despite what you see early on, she quickly becomes the character to be saved, to be hidden from danger. It is a shame, as Catherine Steadman could have the screen presence to pull off a proactive heroine. Now, without someone to root far, what else is others to keep you watching? Yes, there are the Nazi zombies, but they don't ave a lot of screen time either. Plus, the blood appears to be all CG.

While I cannot be considered a fan, the movie could have been a lot worse. It is shot well and features some good production value, this is certainly no low budget SyFy affair. It does look good, with is palette of shades of brown. I also like the concept, the magnetically powered zombies is a new one on me. Magnetically powered may not be the right term word, but after watching he movie, you may want to add an EMP to your zombie apocalypse survival kit.

Audio/Video. The film is preserved in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The transfer looks pretty good. It appears to have been shot digitally, although I am not sure what camera was used. Now, it does no quite pop like a big budget Hollywood picture, but there is certainly a good level of detail throughout, not bad considering how dark much of the movie is.

The soundtrack is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 affair and it is a nicely crafted atmospheric track. Sure, the movie is a bit of a slog, but the subtle score and use of surrounds when growling zombies approach is nicely realized, while the dialogue is always centered and clear.

Extras. Not much going on here.
  • The Making of Outpost: Black Sun. This brief featurette takes a look at the development of the idea and has some behind the scenes footage.
  • Trailer.
Bottomline. I cannot really recommend this to anyone outside of fans of the first one. I still do not feel the prior is required watching to get into this, it may help somewhat. Still, in the end, all jay we have is a sluggishly paced magnetic zombie flick that doesn't really go anywhere and whee he majority of action is off screen.

Not Recommended.

Article first published as Blu-ray Review: Outpost: Black Sun on Blogcritics.

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