on March 29, 2004
Let me begin by saying that I am a huge fan of the Romero trilogy, and believe that those movies are irreplaceable. Every fan of the horror genre should own those films. However, this does not mean that I was not able see this remake without an open mind. In fact, I loved this movie. Rather than try to completely re-do the Romero film, and in so doing step on Romero's toes, the filmmakers went for a different spin on Romero's basic concept.
For those of you who are familiar with the original Romero version of Dawn of the Dead, you know that Romero was not going for the full-fledged horror movie effect. Sure, the movie had some jumps and some gore, but for the most part Romero's film was a satire. Romero did a great job of combining social commentary with some horror elements, which is, in itself, a statement. This remake, however, merely goes for the thrills and chills.
The 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead throws you immediately into the horror/gore, and right from the onset of the opening credits you know that this film is no satirical statement. Sarah Polley plays a nurse who wakes up one morning to find herself in the middle of a nightmare...only, it's not merely a nightmare but a waking reality. Her neighbors and husband have been turned into walking (running) corpses (more similar to those in 28 Days Later than Romero's slow-moving, rigor mortis ridden zombies) and she must seek escape before thinking twice. She meets up with a few other lucky survivors, and they all find shelter in a shopping mall (aptly named "Crossroads Mall"). This safe haven seems almost too good to be true with all the supplies they need to last until more help arrives, and it is. When the "safe haven" in which the survivors are staying is compromised, they must devise a plan and again escape the horrors of the bloodthirsty walking dead.
Overall, I think this was a great film that all fans of horror should be able to enjoy. The acting was good, the effects were great, and the plot was cohesive. Though the movie maintained some of the elements from the original Dawn of the Dead (the shopping mall setting, some cheesy mall music playing in the background, some lines of script that served to epitomize the blase routines many people continue to follow throughout their blase consumer-driven lives), for the most part this was an entirely different film. I really liked the fact that the filmmakers chose not to cut and paste Romero's script, but rather make a new film based on his great idea. I think that anyone who enjoys jumping in their seats at the theater, and intense horror films in general, will love this movie. I, for one, will anxiously await the DVD release!
on March 1, 2010
I'm not going to talk about the movie, there's 700+ other reviews for that. Basically, is this worth buying on Blue Ray if you already have it on DVD? Probably not. The sound is crystal clear, as seems to be the case even on movies with the worst transfers. However, the picture isn't that great. It's slightly better than standard definition, but the blacks are grainy, and the sharpness comes and goes. It IS slightly better than SD, but fairly underwhelming otherwise. I think only big fans of this movie who will watch it often will benefit from HD.
I wouldn't re-buy it for your collection if you have to dust off your SD version when you watch it. So if you're thinking hey it's only $10 should I get it? Only if you don't already own it on SD or you're a big fan of the movie. No doubt, it's a great movie, probably the best remake in the series and probably best overall in the series including all the new ones and all the originals. But the upgrade to BR probably won't be worth it for most viewers.
on August 1, 2008
Imagine. A clam peaceful morning. A promise of a new day. A promise of love, of hope, of joy and prosperity. A promise shattered. A new dream takes over . . .
Welcome to this brave new world, teaming with the hungering legions of the damned and demented. An inexplicable virus has taken over the barren husks of those who have died and has risen them as new beings - - - beings who must sate themselves on the gory, writhing remains of the living. And, in the soulless eyes of these macabre creatures, a new world takes form - - - a world filled with the wails of the tormented dying, a world drenched in the blood of innocents, a world where corruption and decay rule all, a world where hope has died and been buried. In this Stygian realm, the few survivors must make a new way of life, must lock themselves in a fortress of solitude for their physical safety. They must, regardless of the consequences, band together against the gruesome hordes that await their warm flesh. However, will the slow onset of mental imbalances, unrequited loneliness, and barren heartedness eat them alive before their loved ones do? Only time will tell. The clock is ticking. The dead are waiting. Step up to the gallows. . .
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A Film to Die for:
While the horror genre has long been home to the musings of the demented, Dawn of the Dead takes depression and loneliness to a whole new level creating a film that, simply put, is to die for. The aura is suitably, almost entrancingly, morbid as the film delves into not only the gory rampages of the newly turned, but on the all too real emotions experienced by the few survivors as they struggle to remain alive and, even harder, sane. While Dawn of the Dead is by no means a deep film, it does have that certain something, that inexplicable magic, that makes the viewer care. Yes, indeed, this is one those films that you will spend yelling at the screen, warning the unwitting characters to turn around, or not go down that creepy corridor, or even better, not to hover near those that have just died, indulging in long moments of anguish without remembering just what happens to the corpses of the infected victims. Yes, the characters lack that certain brain power, but, unlike most zombie flicks, it's believable. They reside in a world that rotates around death, not life. A world that overnight turned into a carnal house stacked with the bodies of those they once loved so it is acceptable, even believable, that the characters would have trouble grasping the ramifications of some of their actions, including their "daring" plan in the conclusion.
Of course, the best story in the world is only as good as its telling. How many times have we, the exalted viewers of America, been presented with an interesting movie concept that despite the ingenuity has failed on every level (Aeon Flux comes to mind). And, conversely, how many times have we been presented with a simple, unadorned story that for some reason spellbinds the entire audience (think of Paper Moon.) Dawn of the Dead most certainly falls into the later category. Like most George Romero films (with the exception of that travesty Land of the Dead) the acting is brilliant and emotional, the special effects are surprisingly (and sometimes upsettingly) realistic, and the entire aura of the movie from beginning to end is dismal yet somehow, strangely appealing. Dawn of the Dead creates a horrible world, yet the viewer will want to visit it again and again.
As the movie gains force, the conclusion rushes forward and although, as briefly mentioned above, the characters' daring scheme does present the viewer with major qualms, it is believable and even suitable. Unlike those "cliff hanger" movies that misconstrue intrigue with irritation and decide to end with no revelation or meaning Dawn of the Dead ends dramatically, poignantly, and memorably satisfying the viewer and rounding out the entire movie nicely, leaving no room for complaints or questions. Also, one word of advice, be sure and watch the ending credits because an important event is actually portrayed as the credits role. This is part of the conclusion and is highly important.
Extra Information and a Note to Potential Viewers:
The version of Dawn of the Dead that I viewed was the unrated director's cut (which I highly recommend). The film was originally rated R in theaters. Since this movie contains extreme gore, violence, bad language, and brief scenes of nudity, viewer discretion is advised (and yes, I got that from TV). For those who are interested in the actors/actresses these are some of the names of the outstanding cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, and Mekhi Phifer. Also, Dawn of the Dead boasts an excellent soundtrack especially the concluding song, so don't miss it!
on April 23, 2004
Just when I thought no film on the planet could ever scare the &^%$ out of me, the remake of "Dawn of the Dead" comes along and proves me horribly wrong (no pun intended). I have seen just about every horror flick that was deemed so-called "Scary" in recent years, but this one tops them all. I may honestly have nightmares, something I've only had over my failed marriages in those same recent years - LOL. This blood bath is so frightening I held my own hand throughout the film. It didn't help. I jumped out of my skin so often I felt like a 50-year-old iguana.
Loosely based on the original film by George Romero back in 1978 (26 years ago), this is a must for every horror fan. I don't think a film has taken me on this type of ride since "Silence of the Lambs" and "The Exorcist". Even then, "Lambs" could be considered a "slow" movie when compared to the "Dead". I had never heard this quote before today's feature. It explains so well the true nature of zombies: "When there's no more room in Hell. The dead will walk the earth." And they do...
Many of my colleagues have seen this film. Two of them told me they walked out of the theatre...1) for the non-stop gore 2) for the scene with the pregnant girl. Trust me my buds, if you like flesh-crawling terror, this one is for you. I will be first in line to buy this DVD when it hits the market. It is so well done (considering the source), I was actually looking over my shoulder during the screening. This was a lunchtime treat at my local theatre and there were only three people in the audience (it's been out for four weeks).
Furthermore, if you are a Quentin Tarantino fan (Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Reservoir Dogs), then you must know what he said in a recent issue of "Entertainment Weekly". When asked, "So what recent movies have you enjoyed?", Tarantino responded, "I can't believe it, but I really liked the remake of "Dawn of the Dead". It was terrific. I don't really expect to see much better film-making in any set piece this year than that. I was almost offended when (they announced) a remake - I mean, the idea of remaking a George Romero film without George Romero!. And there are things about the new "Dead" that don't compare favorably at all. In the original, Romero used mostly amateur actors from Pittsburgh and they're giving their all, and you just completely buy into these characters in this world gone wrong. They become your friends. It wasn't like a character in a movie just got killed, it was like, Oh, this is horrible. It had the most intense character study of almost any pure genre movie. Even the zombies had personalities."
Right on, Quentin. I couldn't agree with you more. A horror fan??? Ya' gotta see it! 10 is written all over it. And, like I said, trust me. I've seen them all and this one honestly scared (...)me.
"Dawn of the Dead" is, of course, a remake of a sequel - not exactly promising origins for a movie. However, it's a surprisingly good modern horror flick. Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter, Go) stars as a young Wisconsin nurse who awakes one morning to an unexplained zombie invasion. As she flees, she meets other survivors, including Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, and Mekhi Phifer. They hole up in a mall, hoping to escape the fast-moving zombies.
First time director Zack Snyder has crafted a first-rate thriller, and the movie really shines in the Director's Cut. Despite the overabundance of zombie flicks in recent years, "Dawn of the Dead" is surprisingly fresh. The excellent cast helps make the situations credible; it's a little jarring at first seeing indie queen Sarah Polley in a horror movie, but she more than holds her own. The action starts right away and never lets up, and the movie includes healthy doses of humor - listen to the muzak playing in the mall as a good example of the twisted humor. Finally, the makeup and the overall conception of the zombies are outstanding. The movie clicks on all fronts, managing to be scary and engrossing. Make sure you watch through the credits - the action doesn't stop! Highly recommended.
DVD Extras: The DVD is loaded with behind-the-scenes documentaries, deleted scenes, and a director's commentary. Particularly enjoyable are the docs that show how they designed the zombies.
on August 28, 2007
I really knew nothing of Dawn of the Dead 2004 until I saw the preview. No trailers, no TV spots, no hype. So I was quite surprised at how breathtaking it is, moving at a neck-breaking pace and not letting up on the gut-wrenching tension for the entire running time. The critics and majority of the audience agreed, something damn rare for a remake.
While many remakes are easy, pointless cash-ins on previous success and a quick way to mooch a few dollars off fans, DOTD 2004 is something quite different. Both Dawn of the Dead movies are great for their own reasons. And while most will judge this a remake only and do nothing but compare it with its 1978 counterpart, it's really best to watch them a two separate stories happening at the same time.
Young Nurse Ana (Sarah Polley) is living the suburban dream: perfect house, loving husband, well-manicured cul-de-sac. All that is about to change. As she drives home after a long shift dozens of clues surrounding the brewing trouble literally fall on deaf ears as Ana is too tired to notice. Overnight, her life is changed forever (as anyone's life can) when a lethal virus, that causes the dead to come back to life, spreads with alarming speed all over the world. Utterly, completely, hopelessly outnumbered, Ana flees her perfect life and hooks up with a bunch of other survivors who take refuge in a huge shopping mall.
I will not pretend that the satire of the original is something of my own discovery (as so many, many other reviewers have) and complain that it's pretty much absent in the remake because DOTD 2004 has so many other levels to it.
First of all, the zombies (the word is never mentioned in the film) can be seen as the perfect society. There is no conflict between them, no hate, no prejudice, and no grudges. They exist only to create more, as humans invariably do. The survivors barricaded in the shopping mall are rebels. They are refusing to conform and fight for their life, for their right to be different. And with this right to be different comes conflict and turmoil. The barricade between inside the mall and outside the mall is the line between the western world and the third world. Indulgent, ignorant and wasteful on one side and starving masses grabbing for whatever food they can on the other.
DOTD 2004 offers a wider range of characters (more zombie nosh!) boarded up in the mall: cop, nurse, hoodlum, survivalist old lady, pregnant woman, security guards, gay guy, arrogant playboy millionaire, pretty girl and average Joe. It could be argued that they're a far more PC assortment of characters than the original (DOTD 1978 had 2 SWAT cops and 2 reporters-the very people we rely on to protect and inform us in times of crises-chickening out of their utterly futile duties to fend for themselves) but it ends up with character arcs and a sense of sticking together to survive, despite differences, that the original didn't have.
The cast is well chosen and all act their parts brilliantly. Horror films have severely declined in recent years with most being turned into 20-something teen soap-opera trash. In DOTD 2004 you'll see a realistic group of people dealing enormous pressure with sense and reason. However, there is one particular moment in which a complete idiot character jeopardizes the security for everyone else for the dumbest and stupidest of reasons. It really bugs me that this device is in the film and it damages DOTD 2004 and prevents it from having any everlasting integrity.
There are a few references to the original (I'd hate to call them 'in-jokes' as that term would be kind of inappropriate for a film of this nature) that fans will have fun picking up on. But mostly the characters and situations featured in DOTD 2004 are completely new. The most interesting of which is the gun store owner across the street from the mall who communicates with Ving Rhames with his whiteboard and marker pen.
Writer James Gunn (Scooby Doo, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed) unleashes an entirely new monster this time. Many people have strongly complained at the 'fast zombie' type seen in this movie and (the absolutely awful) 28 Days Later. But they are far, far, FAR more terrifying than the slow, sluggish, rigger-mortis stricken corpses in the original. They'd be on you, ripping you're throat out before you can say 'crikey!' Yes, the 'turning times' vary wildly in the movie, but it all depends on the bite and how bad it is.
I had never heard of Zack Snyder before seeing this movie, but for a debut feature he sure has impressed me. Every scene in this film is shot and lit from an identifiable point of view. This could be YOUR shopping mall in YOUR town. Not some fantasy happening far away. It's these kind of qualities that make DOTD 2004 stay with you longer than Darkness Falls or Scream 86. I'm glad that Hollywood can still make horror films as bloody and relentless as this, though there were several cuts made to the theatrical version.
This UNRATED HD DVD runs 110 minutes and features more gore, bridging scenes, more character development, more violence and the odd restored shot here and there. It really is the definitive cut of the film to have and I urge you to buy this version.
Filmed in Super-35 the HD DVD presents the film in 2.35:1 1080P widescreen with Dolby THD sound. The picture is flawless and Zack Snyder's high contrast, blown-out cinematography looks utterly perfect. A truckload of extras include Commentary by director Zack Snyder and Producer Eric Newman, The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed, Special Bulletin: We Interrupt This Program!-complete news coverage of the attacks, deleted scenes, Raising the Dead and Attack of the Living Dead featurettes and Splitting Headaches: Anatomy of Exploding Heads.
NOTE: This 'unrated' HD-DVD is NOT the Director's Cut. The DC lasts 110 minutes while this one barely makes it to 109. A few lines of dialogue are snipped here and there and the naked woman on the freeway has been 'covered up' with bloodstains. Why, I don't know.
on October 10, 2005
Why are all the Dead coming back to life? And why are they all rabid Atkins Diet freaks?
Zach Snyder's brilliant 2004 remake of George Romero's groundbreaking "Dawn of the Dead" takes up the material of the original, dusts it off, injects it with a syringe chock-full of creepiness, splatter, gore, and raw adrenaline, and goes off-roading into the dark desert of the Apocalypse.
This is better than Romero's original. It is terrifying. It makes your jaw drop. It is, possibly, the only cinematic rendering of the Apocalypse I have ever found even remotely believable, and let me tell ya, fellow troopers---every second I was riding shotgun with Sarah Polley's heroine. And given what I saw---flesh-eating monsters tearing up law-abiding home-owners in living color on their front lawns---I had a really itchy trigger finger.
"Dawn of the Dead 2004" made me afraid. Very afraid.
Let me make this clear: this is the scariest film I have ever seen. Your heart will race. Your blood pressure will rise. Look at the opening credits alone, that grim parade of brutal bloody images of atrocity accompaniesd by Johnny Cash's dismal and revelatory "The Man Comes Around". Yeh, this is the real thing, Old Hoss. Lock and load, yeah; but don't hide. They'll find you and eat you if you hide.
In an amazing debut for a novice director, Zack Snyder shoves us mercilessly from the sublime (even boring) into the ridiculous. No, not ridiculous: he shoves us from the everyday commonplace world of adorable skating little girls and 24-hour supermarkets and fast-food and pizza delivery into a latter-day hellscape where your next door neighbor busts down your door in the wee hours of the morning and uses your brainpan as a sausage sampler.
I expected nothing when I walked into "Dawn of the Dead", other than 90+ minutes of gut-chewing escapism. Within the first 5 minutes of Snyder's masterwork, I was hooked: my eyes bugged out, my heart pounding.
Feel the fear when Ana's (played by the gorgeous, gracious, calm as a bomb Sarah Polley) car smashes into a tree after her narrow escape from being breakfast in her own home. Seriously. Put yourself there. Snyder captures the sort of raw danger only a select few of us feel once in a lifetime, and then only in street riots or war zones.
How does Snyder compare to Romero's classic? He takes all that material, pillages Romero's brain cells, and surpasses anything the Old Master accomplished in any of his "Dead Trilogy".
Snyder's 2004 "Dawn of the Dead" is a nihilistic classic of gut-chewing horror, and blew me away in its total rebel yell against decency. We get ample flesh chewing. We get a hideously fat old woman in a ridiculously skimpy negligee (who has, mind you, been hauled into the mall where our heroes take refuge---hauled into the mall in a WHEELBARROW) hankering for flesh and demonstrating all the right moves.
We get a stone-cold gang-banger Andre (played to the 9MM by the talented Mekhi Phifer) who thinks he got to live in this world to bring his baby into it---and cruelly, nastily, gets his wish.
There isn't a single character who lets the flick down: Polley goes from normalcy to hellscape with soldierly resolve. Ving Rhames (Officer Kenneth) dominates the shattered landscape and totally owns the movie. Ty Burrell (yachtsman and resident cynic Steve) and Michael Kelly (security guard turned Mall Hitler CJ) provide a generous helping of humanity at its worst.
But let's focus, for a moment, on the true bloody glory of this remake that actually manages to surpass the original: doesn't it feel like Death to you? The Death of Humanity? The Death of Normalcy? The death of going down to the Mall to pick up a CD or videogame and then heading back home to the burbs for a little sleep?
The DVD is locked and loaded, too: my personal faves are gunshop owner Andy's video diary and "We Interrupt this Program", part compilation of the slice-and-diced news broadcasts sampled in the movie, part ambitious little indie-film. It's a bit rough around the edges, but taken on its own terms adds depth to the Last Days.
Snyder has turned out a classic little flick that goes well beyond the frontiers of the typical flesh-eater outing, and ventures far into the dark territory of the Apocalypse. Golf clubs, the mall rooftop, Richard Cheese's swing rendition of Disturbed's "Down with the Sickness", and some of the sickest, droolingest, flesh-rottingest zombie nutjobs I have ever seen in my life, and you have an open doorway to Hell that is, for now, entitled "Dawn of the Dead 2004".
Lock and load and watch the first step---it's a doozy.
on January 1, 2005
Dawn of the Dead is generally seen as one of the all-time classic horror movies - particularly in the Zombie sub-genre. George A. Romero made a killing for himself with his "Dead" trilogy (Night, Dawn and Day) and this is the 2004 remake of the second part of that gory trifecta. Fortunately, whilst the film has the same basic premise, it manages to add a whole series of plot twists which are not in the original. This should delight old and new fans alike - why just make a carbon copy of the original?
Okay - so what's the basic premise? Well, an unknown disease is ravaging the planet. Once they have suffered a bite from an infected human, the victims rapidly waste away before dying a sudden death. Even more sudden is the re-animation of the corpses. Within 1-5 minutes after checking out, the corpses check back in with a maniacal blood lust that can only be sated by feasting on warm human flesh. The opening scenes of this movie are superb. The introduction of the zombies will have you on the edge of your seat, as they take place in an all-too-familiar everyday environment, giving an air of credibility to an incredible story. This is very much in the mould of the excellent 28 Days Later... and really sets the scene perfectly for the bedlam that follows. The only horror film I have seen recently which delivers such an impactful opening is the darkly delicious Final Destination 2. As the USA descends into hysteria and madness, with family members devouring each other willy-nilly, small groups of people huddle together and feverishly try to find refuge from the growing hordes of psychopathic zombies.
Unlike your run-of-the-mill zombie of yore, these mothers don't shuffle aimlessly towards you - they run like the clappers and head directly for your jugular! A dwindling group of ever-more desperate fugitives from the zombie masses include a cop (Ving Rhames), a nurse who has just witnessed her neighbour's daughter rip her husband's throat out (Sarah Polley) and a man who is caring for his heavily pregnant wife (Mekhi Phifer). Gaining entry to a local mall, they are incarcerated by a bunch of paranoid, and power-crazed, security guards. Whilst initially they fully expect to be rescued by the armed forces, as the days pass by there is a growing realisation that there will be no saving "charge from the cavalry" and they will have to work together to fight their own way out of the mall. From the roof they spot a lone man, Andy (Bruce Bohne) on an opposing rooftop - fortunately directly above a gun shop. Communicating with binoculars and whiteboards, they strike up a friendship and determine to pool their food with Andy's guns and break out of their self-imposed prison...
The pacing of the film slows a little during the middle third, becoming a little less tense and verging on the repetitive. This is only a relative observation however, because the opening minutes and the final reel are top-notch. The acting is credible throughout and even the dialogue has a refreshing touch of reality most of the time. There are a couple of weak plot points (a budding romance just does not make any sense given the recent history of the characters) and some of the scares are telegraphed too far in advance. The use of exploding gas bottles is a little - forgive the pun - overblown at times too (be careful - your barbie could take out a city block)! The editing too, can be a little frenetic at times, but this is a relatively minor peeve and can be forgiven when you consider the overall vibe of the picture. The casting is quite appropriate, with all of the main characters filling their roles rather well, and some interesting cameos to watch out for with the likes of Matt Frewer (Max Headroom anyone?) and horror royalty Tom Savini (Day of the Dead).
Dawn of the Dead is a winner. It is by no means perfect - I thought there could have been more black humour in the mix - but it will not disappoint fans of the flesh-eating zombie genre. The film does contain a few jump-out-of-your-seat frights, but the flesh-eating is surprisingly a little under-done. That is not to say the film lacks gore - amputations and eviscerations do figure, but by and large your run-of-the-mill exploding head shot is the main course. This film has much more of an action component than the original, which was a straight up horror flick. In the true spirit of cheap horror flicks though, the obligatory gratuitous breast shots do still make an appearance. The make up special effects are superbly done and there appears to be a satisfying lack of (all too often painfully obvious) CGI on offer (bar the obligatory fireballs, and a couple of helicopter shots). In the main, this is a no-nonsense zombie-smashin', shotgun-blastin', action-horror fest. Perhaps not quite as chilling as the 1978 original, Dawn of the Dead: Director's Cut (2004) will delight fans nevertheless. Highly recommended for zombie aficionados everywhere. Oh - and by the way - it is essential that you watch until the ending of the closing credits as there is important plot information interspersed among them.
on August 2, 2004
Only a few more months and Zack Snyder's true cut of his remake of Romero's Dawn of the Dead will be out on a special dvd edition. This new director's cut should make an already classic in the making horror-film into something even better. Zack Snyder did Romero proud with the film he created and made fans of the zombie-film subgenre howl with delight.
Where Romero used his sequel to his other classic horror film, Night of the Living Dead, as a visual canvas to create an essay on the societal, political and philisophical path humanity was careening towards during the late 70's and early 80's, Snyder just decided to make the best undead-apocalyptic film he could make. This film has some very disturbing images of how a world would look like when faced with an event with "apocalypse" written in bold. The way some of the scenes were shot in cinema verite style looks like some of the news footage they show on tv dealing with riots and realtime battle footage on the ground.
From the first five minutes it kicked me and most of the audience in the gut and doesn't let up. This all happens before the opening credits even come on. I knew Dawn of the Dead was in good hands when Snyder used Johnny Cash's The Man Around The Corner as the opening credits track. The Man in Black's distinctive voice playing over scenes of the world trying to comprehend the sudden rise of the dead to feastt on those still living.
Even the humor that was sprinkled throughout the film had a morbid, twisted, sick angle to them. Those who have seen the original Dawn of the Dead will see some of the original actors doing cameos that fit well into the film. But it wasn't just gore and humor. There was alot of humanity in this film. I guess when one thinks they may be the only living people left on earth, sometimes living just to survive may not be enough.
It doesn't mean that this film is lacking in blood and brain-matter. The gorefactor in this film is high, but it wasn't gore for the sake of having gore. This film's basic premise is of the recently dead coming back to life to attack and devour the living around them. I don't think a film with this premise can escape showing a living human being being ripped apart and devoured by a mob of putrefying and hungry zombies. They've actually had to cut back on the gore to get an R-rating for the film. I'm not sure what they cut out, but they skirted the realm of receiving an NC-17. This film ups the standard upon which make-up effects will be set to. They didn't skimp on showing what a bullet and/or a spray of 12-gauge buckshot would do to a human head.
The acting, for a horror film, was good enough that you will care what happens to the survivors. Sarah Polley and Mekhi Phifer are two who had stand-out performances. Ving Rhames was his solid, dependable self. But the two actors who stuck in my mind were Jake Weber's Michael and Ty Burrell's Steve. Weber's Michael was like an everyman --- a calming and levelheaded presence in a world that is anything but. Burrell's Steve had every line which broke the tension and horror, giving the audience a chance to laugh and catch its breath.
If there was a flaw in the film it would be in the uneven feel of the script dialogue. A majority of the dialogue is good, but some weak lines are heard here and there throughout the film. And certain horror conventions and cliches are used, but not too much to turn the film into a Scream-like film that winks and shows the audience how clever the script is.
For those who have seen the original Dawn of the Dead and have been trying to find a reason to hate this remake, I say that if you give this film a chance and watch it on its own terms then it will surprise and entertain. Not better than the original but it succeeds in giving this subgenre of the horror field a lifegiving boost. 28 Days Later was a tease of a horror film compared to this remake.
I highly recommend this film to horror aficionados and to film lovers. It may not be Kubrick, Fellini, or Kurosawa, but it doesn't set out to be. It just tries to scare and disturb you.
on August 3, 2004
Zack Snyder and James Gunn's Dawn of the Dead continues the rennaissance of the zombie film that 28 Days Later started the year before. This version of George Romero's classic stands on its own and still pays homage to the original.
The zombies are stupid fast and have retained some intelligence and agility. The only thing that I think this film would've done to make it even better is to show in full-glory some gutmunching. Hopefully, this director's cut dvd edition will re-edit in some gutmunching scenes.