Friday, September 19, 2014

Z Nation

If there's anything better than a movie by The Asylum, it would have to be a TV series by The Asylum, and "Z Nation," their first does not disappoint.

The Asylum is perhaps best known for their low budget 'homages' to current blockbusters currently in theaters. They have also earned the term 'mockbusters.' They have treated us to such great flicks as Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, Snakes on a Train, and, ahem, Atlantic Rim. And of course they have also been responsible for Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid, Nazis at the Center of the Earth, and the absolute classic Sharknado.

Now, The Asylum joins SyFy in producing a TV series determined to cash in on another current mega trend, zombies, and perhaps more specifically, AMC's "The Walking Dead." Their version is called "Z Nation," and it's set three years after the zombie apocalypse. The world has been ravaged by a virus that turns the recently dead into zombies, and unlike "TWD," more like 28 Days Later, these buggers can run rather than shamble. The threat level is raised considerably.

Much like "The Walking Dead," this is a road trip adventure, but this one has an objective, one more specific than simple survival. Here what remains of military order must get a survivor whose blood may contain a vaccine cure from New York to the last viral lab in California. This added hopeful endgame gives "Z Nation" an edge that unfortunately "The Walking Dead" doesn't have.

The cast is surprising. Harold Perrineau in an action lead role (shame he's only in the first episode), DJ Qualls in a fairly serious role, at least at first, ditto for Tom Everett Scott, and all are indeed very impressive. It's almost enough to make us forget this is an Asylum production. I was very impressed, this show is good. The only thing I didn't like about it was the inclusion of a baby in the first episode, but even that exceeded expectations.

And on another note, also like "TWD," the term 'zombie' is rarely if ever used. Instead of walkers or biters, the undead on "Z Nation" are called Zs. Short but sweet. And worse than just being fast, they're smart, they think, they plan. "Z Nation" does not fool around. This is much better than anyone expected it to be. Worth watching for fans of the genre.

And if you'd like more of "The Walking Dead," check out my friend Marie Gilbert's reviews of the series here at Biff Bam Pop!, and more on "Z Nation" over at The Nerd Signal.

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