125 of 157 people found the following review helpful
The dead are mad as heck and aren't going to take it anymore! When we last caught up with George Romero's "Dead" films, "Day of the Dead" focused on the military trying to train the zombies for combat and experimenting on them. Romero takes the next step introduced into a world divided by the dead and the living each sharing space reluctantly with the other. That is until a gas station attendant zombie shows an inkling of intelligence and decides to go after the living in a sealed off skyscaper while those less fortunate live on the streets of the sealed off metropolis. Run by Kaufman (Dennis Hopper in perfect looney mode), the city is supplied by "employees" who can't live in the beautiful people's skyscraper. These scavengers led by Riley (Simon Baker) and Cholo (John Leguizamo) pillage the landscape around them for essential items for the wealthy. Riley has a conscience decides he will no longer lead the crew of his "tank" Dead Reconkening and work for "the man" anymore. Cholo, on the other hand, keeps doing Kaufman's dirty work in hopes that he'll be able to buy his way into the wealthy paradise.
As usual Romero has lots of gore but, more importantly, there's a sly political and satricial message at the heart of the movie. Romero who has been an independent filmmaker his whole life probably identifies with Riley and thinks of the film studios as Kaufman and his denizens. It's a much broader metaphor though as it can be used to look at the disappearing middle class and the disintegration of the class system in America. It's a fun ride with some of Romero's most accomplished filmmaking. Working with a budget of around $20 million Romero manages to do the same kind of work as was seen in the remake of his "Dawn of the Dead" last year. Interestingly, the more films Romero makes in his "Dead" series (and this probably going to be the last or at least next to last because of his age), the more milage he gets out of the inspiration for the entire saga--Richard Matheson's novel "I Am Legend" which was turned into the low budget horror movie "The Last Man on Earth" with Vincent Price (and the campy "The Omega Man" with Charleton Heston).
Outstanding effects are nicely off set with strong performances by the cast including Asia Argento (daughter of Romero friend and Italian horror film director Dario Argento) as a former hooker named Slack who is almost fed to the "stenches" (as the city inhabitants refer to the rotting zombies)in a bizarre scene that satrizies "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome". Romero hasn't lost his touch and although this doesn't have quite the revolutionary punch of "Dawn of the Dead" or "Night of the Living Dead" it's an improvement on "Day of the Dead" as well as most of the horror films out there.
The DVD has a very nice transfer and with the exception of an occasional bit of digital shimmer, the film looks as vibrant and alive as the bright red gushing blood. This is much more an action adventure movie than the previous films in the horror series and provides a nice bookend to the remake of "Dawn of the Dead" (even if it isn't related). Sound is pretty lively with a nice 5.1 and DTS mix that will have you looking over your shoulders for the undead.
Extras include a lively commentary by "Dead" director Romero, producer Grunwald and editor Michael Doherty. There's also a number of featurettes on the making of the film but my personal favorite is "When Shawn Met George" about when Simon Pegg and Edgar White (star & writer and director * writer respectively) of the comedy/horror film "Shawn of the Dead" met Romero and appeared as extras in "Land of the Dead". We get to see how they're made into the undead and the first meeting between the three of them. "Undead Again" provides a glimpse into the making of the film. "Green Screen to Finished Screen" gives us before and after comparisons between the raw footage and the finished footage with optical effects. "Storyboards and Final Scenes" looks at the storyboards inserted as PIP with the finished product. "Scream Tests" opens with a very funny outtake featuring dancing zombies from the CGI footage for the film. "Scenes of Carnage" is pretty self explanatory. "Bits and Pieces" are scenes that were cut. Although none of the featurettes are quite as exhaustive as those provided as extras for the three disc set of the original "Dawn of the Dead". There's also some other extras including a behind-the-scenes "A Day with the Living Dead".
Could "Dead" have been more? Sure. There were some missed opportunities here regarding the life in the tower but then that would have been a completely different movie. Romero's done a terrific job given the limitations of time and budget. Deftly balancing satire, horror and humanism, Romero makes one of his best films in years. I'm hoping this does well at the box office so that Romero can get financing to continue to examine the post-stench world a bit more. Oh and it's a Romero rarity with an ending that's actually more upbeat than I expected.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: HD DVD
We should have known that if George A. Romero was going to go back to the well of the living dead another time he was going to come up with something different. What "George A. Romero's Land of the Dead" (the director's name goes up top so you know this is not merely another remake of one of his zombie films, like last year's "Dawn of the Dead") offers is two variations on the familiar theme. The first is in this brave new world humanity has found a way of perpetuating the old divide between the "haves" and "haves not," even when there are all those zombies out there suggest it should now be "us" versus "them." Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) has set up Fiddler's Green, a luxury high rise on an island between a couple of rivers (think the location of Three River Stadium in Romero's old stomping ground of Pittsburgh even though the movie is shot in Toronto). There the "haves" live while the rest of the island has the "have nots," some of whom are hired as mercenaries to go out into the world and bring back "necessities." Apparently money still matters in the "Land of the Dead," or perhaps people are merely trying to hold on to the old way of life, because the poor are not listening to those advocating going and taking away from the rich.
Consequently, humanity has found a way to survive. You can compare the more active approach of "Land of the Dead" with the mall rats of "Dawn of the Dead," who found a passive means of existence. Kaufman has built Dead Reckoning, a gigantic armored vehicle that leads foraging parties out into the world. These parties are led by Riley (Simon Baker), whose primary goal is getting everybody back alive, which does not always happen. That is because he works with Cholo (John Leguizamo), who has a different idea of necessities, one attuned to the fine tastes of Kaufman. Both men believe they are on their last mission at the start of this 2005 film, Riley because he will have now earned enough to pay for a car to get out of town and Cholo because he believes he has now earned the chance to move on up to Fiddler's Green. Both are wrong and that sets up the conflict to come.
This is where the second variation comes into play. Kaufman not only created a high rise where the "haves" are protected from that "have nots," some of whom actually help the "haves" have even more, but the entire island is zombie proof. This forces Romero to change the zombie part of the equation, and so we are introduced to Big Daddy (Eugene Clark), who runs a gas station and has a moment akin to when the ape looks at the thigh bone in "2001: A Space Odyssey." Just to help us along the voice over at the start of the film warn us that if the zombies ever develop anything approaching rudimentary thinking skills that would be a bad thing, a very bad thing indeed. So, of course, that is what happens. After all, if you can have bad humans, then you can have good zombies (Joss Whedon has convinced me being dead does not make a character inherently bad).
Having a zombie to root for is quite a different experience, but Romero also delivers on the guts and gore when the zombies go into their patented feeding frenzy. The narrative can offer all the sly social satire it wants, we watch these movies to be disgusted by the bloody scenes of cannibalism. The people Romero hires to do makeup and special effects are clearly on the cutting edge when it comes to this type of work. Even when you watch the DVD special features and you see what they are doing in bright light most of it will still creep you out, so the scenes in the film shot at night or in the shadows with the liberal application of blood and other things it is even worse (which is a good thing in a zombie movie).
The bottom line is that Romero delivers just what his fans want with this movie so that there is not a problem with failing to meet expectations. No, "Land of the Dead" is not the best of the bunch, but for my money nothing will surpass the original "Night of the Living Dead." The important thing is that here we are four films into the series, limiting ourselves to just the Romero helmed ones, and the series is certainly going a lot strong than the other comparable horror series, all of which have been abandoned by their creators (which is either a cause or effect). Final Note: Look for Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright of "Shaun of the Dead" fame as the photo booth zombies in one of the classic cameos of the early 21st century.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2005
I've read several reviews for Land of the Dead in the past week. Some praised it, while some dismissed it as a "rehash" or "uninspired" film, saying it does nothing to further the Romero legacy. I've heard it's not funny. I've heard it's character's sucked. I've heard lots. I'm here to let you know that Romero's new addition not only fits like a glove to the original three - it's hillarious, well acted, well concieved, and looks beautifully-dirty at that!
When I hear people say LAND is "unoriginal", it makes me chuckle. No other horror filmmaker can mix social commentary, humor, and gore like Romero, and if there is one out there, he'she probablly got the idea from Romero anyway!
I saw LAND last night, at a midnight show here in Chicago. From the opening old-school UNIVERSAL logo, to watching KAUFMAN say things like "We don't negoitate with terrorists," to watching a population of zombies appear from under the water in what, to me, is one of the creepiest moments I've felt in a looooong time, I not only thouroughly enjoyed this flick, I welcome it WHOLEHEARTEDLY as an instant classic.
The underlying story is a cautionary one - just like Night, Dawn, and Day. It's shows a population that have locked themselves in, so much so that when it comes time to escape, they can't. It tells of a ruthless leader that keeps the outside population occupied with drugs, sex and entertainment to keep their minds from coming together and storming Fiddler's Green. The Green is a skyscraper-fortress that Kaufman and his cronies have turned into a new city, one that holds every memory of the former life - shopping malls, gyms, movies, etc. This film is about zombies, obviously. But like every Romero films before, it's also about our post 9-11 world, living in fear, isolating ourselves in a big world, and so much more. The effects are UNMATCHED. I didn't notice ANY CGI throughout the whole thing. There were a couple puppets, and they looked amazing.
Overall, this is one BIG ASS THUMBS up for a long awaited flick. The end caused pause initially. I felt it could have been better. However, I wake up this morning and rethink everything in my head and I'm satisfied. It wraps the microscopic story up like a lovely package, leaving the macroscopic problem wide open.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2005
After waiting for the best part of 15 years for this film to be made (it was originally billed as going to be called 'Twilight of the Dead' back in the early 90's) it thankfully does not disappoint one bit. Despite some reviews in the press to the contrary, the film does have a great script and the lines to these ears were NOT cheesy (and certainly not compared to most of the Hollywood blockbusters).
The art direction, effects and acting were all sufficient enough to carry Romeros scipt to the screen in grand style. If I had any gripe then it was that I would of hoped to see Dennis Hopper's character Kaufman being more of a shouty bad guy in the tradition of Rhodes from 'Day of the Dead'. However, that is only a minor quibble and I very much look forward to seeing the film again but in its uncut format (on dvd) which I imagine would include the obligatory Romero gutting of people's stomachs that we all know and love?! In my opinion, this film deserves much more than one sitting as there are at points a lot of little gory showpieces and it could be hard to catch them all.
My advice, see this film now and support the true master and originator of the zombie genre making a comeback.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2006
While the fourth instalment of Romero's definitive "dead" saga is not really what fans were expecting, it does retain the essential element. Decent zombies. The door-opener for this film, the silly Zack Snyder remake of "Dawn of the Dead", just didn't cut it in that direction. To put it simply, if you can make zombies physically fit enough to run the hundred yard dash, but unable to break a window in a shopping mall to get to their food source.....you're asking a bit much. Snyder's movie, while it contained some good scenes and set pieces, just didn't come off as a proper zombie movie at the end of the day. It could/would have been a lot better, if it had stuck to the "rules", as it were. The `appeal' of the dead, is their sheer number and the relentlessness of the slow shuffling attack, coupled with simply not knowing where they will pop up next. Giving them the ability to race around the place somehow diluted their menace.
The aforementioned "rules" are included in Romero's vision and that's one of the prime strengths of his particular take on the genre he practically created, even if this particular episode leaves the viewer somewhat wishing for a little more (personally I believe the 93 min running time was too short and the story as a whole, a little anaemic).
Romero's episodic approach, serialised but not truly connected, gives us a glimpse into the lives of people who have survived the original zombie apocalypse and the small attempts at society which they have tried to establish. This particular section of the series deals with a full city of human characters or at least a partially filled city and is the largest group of humans Romero has dealt with so far. Previous films have simply dealt with small groups of people trying to cope with (and avoid) the phenomena that has engulfed them. But that is the engrossing thing about Romero's take on the world of the dead. His observations of separate groups of people and their separate methods of dealing with the undead biting at their heels and "Land of the Dead" is simply another look at another group. This is one of the reasons why "Land" is difficult to hate as much as some fans have declared.
The story itself, is quite a low key affair, for the viewer that is. For the protagonists, it's an absolute bloody disaster. It concerns itself with the simple plot that the dead completely outnumber the living (even more so than "Day of the Dead" I presume) and `control' the majority of the...ahem...land outside the city in which the human characters have garrisoned themselves. As supplies run low in the city, people are hired to venture outside the protection of the city and gather more supplies (including booze, which is a highly sought after commodity for the richer echelons of this post-society society). They also take a large toll on the population of the dead. All part of the job, no doubt. They travel into the hordes of the dead in a various convoy of bikes, cars and trucks. One of the vehicles that these risk-takers use is the `Dead reckoning' (the original title, by the way), a huge mock-up truck with a multitude of wheels, armour, machine guns and rockets...Absolutely zombie proof. We are introduced to these post apocalyptic `hunter-gatherers' in the movie's very entertaining opening sequence.
We are also introduced to the dead of the title. These pathetic (but terrifying) entities wander around their former stomping grounds, trying to play instruments and carrying out the former duties of the occupations they filled when they were "alive". One of the dead, `Big Daddy', thinks he should be filling people's cars with fuel, even though the only people driving cars these days are gun toting desperados that would be happy to put a bullet through his head. `Big Daddy' seems to have developed or retained some sort of intelligent function and awareness, an issue that was alluded to in "Day of the Dead". He displays a fear and loathing of the people who rampage into his town, shooting up everyone and looting. This, in time, makes him the natural leader of the dead that inhabit the one-horse town that exists in the suburbs of the city that the living people inhabit and, while not trying to give too much away, leads them in a zombie assault on that city with the obvious results ensuing. Anyone even remotely familiar with Romero's zombie flicks will be aware of what that means.
The somewhat lacklustre story aside, "Land of the Dead" is, in fact a fitting entry to the series. "Night of the living Dead" dealt with the un-defined genesis of the phenomena, "Dawn" dealt with the final breakdown of society in the face of the phenomena and "Day" and "Land" both deal with groups of people surviving the phenomena.
There are problems though...the major one being the timeframe of this particular episode. If we take it that "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), could have occurred in the 1970's and "Dawn of the Dead" (1978) at the turn of the decade, with "Day of the Dead" (1985) happening in the early 1980's, then logically "Land of the Dead" should be taking place in either the late 80's or early 90's. I say this because the main male and female characters, who can't be more than early/mid thirties "remembers" what it was like before the dead started to make an appearance. This then means that the technology/weaponry of the piece should be of a 1980's standard at best. So, we shouldn't really be seeing laptops, with digital readouts of perimeter security for the city, mobile phones or modern style military/police helmets or machine guns. It would have been better if Romero had limited the human characters firepower to M-16's, walkie talkies and 1980's style military equipment, a la "Day of the Dead". It's a flaw that many people wouldn't bother with, but it does let the movie down somewhat. The obvious reason for including such modern equipment in the movie is that it was probably cheaper than locating 1980's stock. It's also a reason that this film has only 3 stars and not 4.
But that aside, overall, "Land of the Dead" is an entertaining episode in a series that could keep on trucking along. Even after Romero joins his band of zombie hordes. The main thing is that any director, who will take up the drama, should be made to stick to Romero's established rules. The scope of the overall piece is huge and open to a multi-variation global vision. I do hope it's not the last time that we see Romero's dead walk.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2005
Ah, it's finally come. I should open saying that I, like many of you, am a ravening Romero fanboy, and this was probably the second most anticipated film release yet to occur in my life. (And arguably, it should be number one. The actual #1 is 'Kill Bill, Vol. 2', which is, naturally, something of a cheat as it is the second half of single film, which is gonna severely increase the desire to view it.) But, though my anticipation was great, my expectations weren't actually all that high. For one thing, I'm sufficiently cynical that whenever I get really excited about something, I get really worried that it's not gonna be very good. Also, I'd read the script online, and although it clearly had the potential to be a very good movie, it certainly wasn't anything particularly remarkable or revelatory. Mind you, I certainly didn't think it was gonna be bad, but I was expecting something earth-shattering either. And, it wasn't earth-shattering, but it was excellent, and surpassed my expectations. It does little to stir the human soul, I suppose, but it offers plenty of gruesome action along with the best looking zombies ever and a script that is a cut above what you'd usually see in this sorta film. All in all, I'd say 'Land of the Dead' is about as good as you could reasonably hope.
One of the most impressive things about the original 'Dead' trilogy is how different the three films are. 'Land of the Dead' continues this trend, and it very unlike the 3 prior films, and is really about as original as one could reasonably expect a new film to be, while still remaining within the traditional zombie movie format. (Some professional reviewers disagree with me, but they don't spend nearly as much time watching zombie movies as I do, or you do, most likely.) This is the first genuinely post-apoclyptic zombie movie I've come across, in the sense that it is a zombie infested world in which a new human society has developed. This may not be the most remarkable twist in the world, but, again, it's about as big a one as your likely to have while remaining within the confines of the genre.
The plot centers around the crew of Dead Reckoning, a custom-built battle vehicle used to scavenge supplies from the zombie filled world. Riley is in command of the vehicle, an antisocial type who simply wishes to flee from both humans and zombies, and live in the frozen north. Cholo is second in command. He's something of a firebrand, compared to the controlled Riley, and he wants to buy his way into the Fiddler's Green, a high-class, privileged tower amidst the ruins of Pittsburgh. Kaufman, owner of Fiddler's Green, however, isn't interested in money alone, and wishes to keep lowly sorts like Cholo out of the Green. Enraged by his rejection, Cholo steals Dead Reckoning and threatens to destroy the Green if he doesn't pay a large ransom. Not wanting to pay up, Kaufman hires Riley to stop Cholo, and bring the vehicle back. Riley has no love for Kaufman, but if Cholo goes through with his plan, a lot of innocents will be killed, and Riley sees this as his opportunity to flee the city. Meanwhile, one zombie called Big Daddy, enraged by the wanton slaughter of his fellow zombies in a recent raid, notices the grand tower at the center of the city, and heads of towards the living community, leading a pack of zombies, who are apparently rather inspired by his atypical drive and direction.
Though this film is moderately budgeted by mainstream standards(somewhere between 15 and 20 million), LotD has by far the highest production values of any Romero film. Despite the limited budget, Romero creates a full, convincing post-apocalyptic world, with a nice battle truck. (A truck which easily could've been very lame) Also, the zombie effects are the best you've ever seen, with easily the most varied and detailed faces around. Since this takes place years after the apocalypse, the zombies are in various states of decay, some fresh and mangled, some ancient and emaciated. Most impressive is one of the lead zombies, #9, who has her cheek ripped open, exposing her back teeth. It's a clever effect, and extremely realistic. Though many idiots whined about how the film was gonna be rated R, apparently unaware how much more lax the MPAA is compared to 20 years ago, this film more than delivers in terms of graphic violence. In terms of sheer volume, LotD is comparable to `Day', and it easily has the most flesh-eating of any of the Dead films. The gore is approached in a different way, as we don't watch a single character be mutilated to the extent they were in the prior two, but the sheer volume of effects is extraordinary. The natural effects are great, though the bites aren't quite as cool as they were in `Day'. There is some CGI, which is too bad, but it's pretty much unavoidable. As Nicotero mentioned in an interview, you can't just stick a squib on an actor's head anymore, and it would be totally impractical to put a squib on a stuntman every time someone had to get shot. The CGI is generally excellent, though it falters in one scene where a zombie's head is scissored off.
As the synopsis would suggest, this film falls into the action-horror category, rather than just pure horror. It doesn't completely abandon horror for action, however, like so many recent zombie movies have. Unfortunately, Romero relies to heavily on jump scenes, as zombies constantly leap from around corners or where ever. This is probably my biggest beef with the film. Fortunately, the jump-scenes usually aren't all there is to it: Once the zombies appear, they have to deal with them the way they typically did in the earlier films. Romero shoots the action and horror scenes old-school: keeps the damn camera still, lets you see what's going on etc. Mind you, I really like flashy camerawork, but this new school of camerawork ain't flashy, just incoherent and stupid.
Much has been made of how some of the zombies are smarter now, but this isn't really that important to the film. All that really matters is that one of the zombies becomes smart enough to actually actively attack the humans, rather than just wandering around, and the other zombies follow him. Yeah, the zombies pick up and use tools sometimes, but they did that in earlier Dead films as well, and their use of guns is utterly minimal. For the most part, these zombies behave precisely like your traditional Romero zombies. Well, towards the end it suggests that some zombies have become intelligent enough that they're beyond eating people. This is a little strange, but there are still plenty of mean, stupid zombies to go around.
While reading the script, it looked as if the characters would be a bit to cliched, but this proved not to be the case. Cholo looked like he might be too wild and uncontrolled, but Leguizamo holds back a bit with him, and makes him more real and naturalistic than he might have been. Similarly, Riley is basically your typical jaded soldier type, but Baker plays him more like a normal guy than an action hero. Hopper is typically known for being wildly over the top, but he plays Kaufman very low-key, as he should. Overall, the acting is very solid, though not much is typically asked of them. Special note should also go to Robert Joy as Riley's sidekick Charlie, a dimwitted sharpshooter. He's kinda used for comic relief, but he's endearing rather than obnoxious, unlike most sidekicks. These characters generally aren't terribly deep or complex, but they usually seem surprisingly real, like they did in Romero's earlier Dead films. (And unlike they usually do in this sorta film, where they often just go to the movie store, and buy a crate of `Generic, Cliché Characters, 10 Count'. I'm looking at you, `Dawn of the Dead 2004'.) Unfortunately, Romero makes a few attempts at quips and catch phrases, most of which are quite lame. But, this sorta thing comes with the territory, and it isn't a big deal. When I read the script, much of the dialogue was kinda hokey, but it plays better when you actually see it.
Well, I guess that's it. This is just a very finely crafted zombie film, which finds a distinct niche in a very crowded subgenre. A fine return to the genre.
Update for DVD: The DVD itself looks very nice. (I really don't have that much of an eye for this sorta thing, however, so if others see some flaws they may be right.) As anticipated, the new cut isn't much different. There's one new scene, about 3 minutes long, involving Cholo dealing with a suicide in an apartment. It's a reasonably effective scene, and one of the more horror oriented sequences, but it hasn't really got anything to do with anything else in the film, however. (Which is why it was cut in the first place.) It's got a bit more gore, with many shots extended slightly, and a few new things. (Such as one person getting their eye bit off, and Mouse getting ripped apart and disemboweled etc.) Some people have been acting as if this version is way gorier, which is isn't, but it's got some notable additions, and further cements this film's position as having the best combination of quantity, quality and variety, when it comes to gore. (Other than 'Day of the Dead', probably. It's a tough call.) I listened to the commentary, and it was acceptable, but not fascinating, and not nearly as interesting as Romero's ones generally are. But, oh well, it's a fine DVD.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2005
I've seen it twice now and the first time I saw it as a Romero-fanboy. The second time it was with a more critical eye. I have to say that overall the film succeeds in what Romero was trying to accomplish. This is especially true in the fact that the film was his very first studio-financed zombie film. That shows in the overall look and pace of the film. I can't fault Romero for that since it allowed him to make the film when no one else would dare touch him with a 100-foot pole. The uncut and unrated DVD will probably show the definitive Land of the Dead, but as a theatrical studio film this fourth entry in the Dead series succeeds more than it failed.
First, the gore-factor in the film is more than I thought the MPAA would have allowed Romero, Nicotero and the boys at KNB FX would get away with. I think I can see where a few Romero-fans would have been disappointed in terms of what was showed after Romero's last two: Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. Those two films raised the bar in terms of gore and splatter on the screen. This is especially true with Day of the Dead. But for an R-rated film Land of the Dead matches and surpasses what Saving Private Ryan showed in terms of on-screen carnage. The second time I saw the film I could tell where Romero had to pan or cut away before the gore became too over-the-top. Another trick I saw him do was (which I was prepared to look for after Greg Nicotero's AICN interview) was to have zombies walk across the scene in front of a feeding frenzy to minimize some of the effect. I am anxious to see what they cut-out to gain the R how it'll fit with the overall look and feel of the film when its put back for the DVD.
Second, the story itself is typical Romero in that it was a reflection of what he sees going on in the world at this moment, but with zombies to complicate things. To say that Romero is not a huge fan of the current administration is an understatement. Right from the beginning Land of the Dead is a commentary on Bush and company's approach on the War on Terror. Romero also uses the film as a way to point out the widening gap between the class structure in the United States. He's pretty much sledgehammer-like in his commentary. There's Kaufmann and his elite caste (which seemed to be white and affluent) living their life as if the zombie apocalypse that forced them into Fiddler's Green never occurred. Then you have the other castes which includes not just the grunts who are doing the dirty and dangerous jobs to keep everyone at the Green provided and satisfied, but the people who are deemed not Green-type: people who do not have the wealth and correct racial make-up. Then to complicate things there's an even larger caste just waiting to come in just beyond the electrified and guarded fence and the riverbanks. Romero's a child of the 60's revolutionary movement and his past zombie films' message points this out. This time around it comes out with less subtlety but with more force as if Romero knows that his kind of filmmaker are a dying breed and that this may be one of the last times he can send his message across through his film.
Finally, we come to the characters and most especially the zombies themselves. The zombie make-up effects done by Greg and KNB are to-notch and raises the bar on make-up effects overall. The zombies they've come up with look like what zombie would look if they've been moving around for years out in the elements. A few seem to have a much intact and less decayed look while some look to be more like walking, dried-out corpses. Either way Nicotero and team made great use of make-up and judicious use of CGI to give the zombies their best look to date. The human characters are pretty much sketched out according to who the good guys and bad guys would be. Riley as the main human hero is serviceable and Hopper as Kaufmann is less over-the-top than what most people would be used to when they think Dennis Hopper. In fact, Hopper portrays the ruthless Fiddler's Green executive with a certain Rumsfeld-esque and Cheney-esque approach. This is a person who thinks that people should be glad that he's in charge to make their lives easier and safer from not just the zombies but from each other. He's a poster-boy for the mindset that if the populace is entertained and placated with the trappings of the old life then they wouldn't complain of the problems that exist outside their borders. Sounds similar to a certain mindset a certain nation is in right now.
I must point out a couple of standouts in the film in the supporting characters of Charlie and Pillsbury. They're the comedy relief but not in the rip-roaring laugh-my-ass off funny, but in the way veterans of a war will joke and act to keep themselves sane and on the straight and narrow. Charlie seems to be the Lenny to Riley's George and the chemistry between Simon baker and Robert Joy works. Pillsbury was just on time with what little dialogue he had but right from the beginning the audience liked this character and I'm sure joined me in hoping he didn't become zombie-chow.
The zombie-hero characters are a little harder to describe. I know of people who were tuned off by their continuing evolution to something resembling human instead of the flesh-eating corpses that they were. Big Daddy's introduction as the de facto leader of the zombies in the film seemed abit rushed, but unlike some I thought his evolution was a continuation with what Romero began with Bub in Day of the Dead. One thing that I noticed that few missed was the fact that even though Big Daddy was still a zombie who was smarter than most he never partook in any of the flesh-eating from beginning to end. The same goes for the handful of zombies who really began learning from Big Daddy's example like The Butcher and Softball Player (number 9 as she is called in the credits). the rest of the zombies mimicked what Big Daddy was doing, but in the end their primal instinct to feed overrode whatever residual behavior they were learning. I thought this was something lost to most audiences and almost lost to me until I saw the film a second time and things began to click into place. There will always be zombies that gorehounds love for their ability to just feed-frenzy whenever they catch a living human, but interspersed among them will be the evolving "Bubs" who seem to want to be left alone. Does this mean that these "Bubs" will stop feeding on humans probably not, but they're not as mindless and emotionless as the majority of their brethren will remain as.
Overall, the film is an entertaining one if seen as a stand-alone. It's not as scary as the previous three in the series, but the films have progressively been getting less scary since Night of the Living Dead. The film seen as part of the series succeeds in continuing Romero's vision of what the zombies are. That they're not the real monsters in his film but just a reminder that they really are just us and their ability to collectively work together has always been their secret to always succeeding in finding a way into whatever defense humans have put up to keep them out. It is this working together that the surviving humans cannot learn and thus leads to their downfall. The title fits in that the land really belongs to the zombies now and the surviving humans are just temporarily living in it. I am not too big of a fan at what one of the characters did in the end, but it does show that with an evolving enemy out there the old ways of dealign with them may have to end and a new one found if humanity is to truly survive. I would give this film an overall score of 9 out of 10.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2011
So now, zombies are regaining their lost mental faculties and becoming smart again even though their brains are rotting away? And one zombie becomes the leader of the pack and even seems to express outrage that humans are killing his "people" and wants to retaliate by launching a mass attack on the surviving humans? Next, we'll have zombies hosting a benefit for oppressed corpses and a zombiefied Jesse jackson can moan about the civil rights of the deceased. The premise of this movie is utterly stupid, moronic and completely laughable. I kept expecting a zombie band to leap out on a stage and start singing, "we will...we will.... EAT YOU!" or start singing, "We are the world." In the final scene, a main character is about to shoot at a herd of zombies marching on an overpass and another main character tells him not to because "they're like us. They're just looking for a place to go" as if the zombies were the victims of a natural disaster (such as a tornado) and were heading off to a FEMA shelter or something. This movie should be rated R for retarded.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2005
I saw 'Land of the Dead' completely out-of-order from the other Romero zombie movies, having seen Day of the Dead first, then Land of the Dead', and then Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead. However, that said, it did not detract from my enjoyment of the movie. As a zombie movie, it's great fun. There's plenty of zombie screen-time and gore aplenty, and the acting really wasn't half-bad. The actors put up performances that well exceeded what I had expected, and the plot was pretty solid. Dennis Hopper plays the villainous Kaufman very well, and Riley was really a pretty likeable character.
There were a few things I wish had been done differently (such as how the big-money vehicle, Dead Reckoning, was used), and I'd have liked to see some more of the downfall of the human city, but for the most part I got exactly what I wanted: zombies messing stuff up. The gore actually wasn't as gratuitous as I was expecting, and frankly, that was a good thing - it made sense when it was used (I mean, it's a movie about zombies ripping people apart and eating them), but it wasn't distracting or really over-the-top.
While Land of the Dead isn't my favorite zombie movie (that honor goes to the 'Dawn of the Dead' remake), it's still very well worth your time, and I'm looking forward to buying it on DVD when it comes out.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2005
I really wanted to see this movie when it came out in theaters, as I have become quite the George Romero enthusiast over the past few years and there hasn't been a new "Dead" movie in almost 20 years (if you exclude the remakes). But unfortunately, it dropped out of theaters just as fast as it arrived. But here, it arrives in all it's "Unrated Director's Cut" glory. It's surprising this movie didn't do very well, afterall, it was obviously only greenlit after the runaway success of zombie flicks such as last year's flacid remake of "Dawn Of The Dead," "28 Days Later" and to a lesser extent, "Shaun Of The Dead" (whose creators appear in this movie). Don't let the box office disappointment steer you away from this flick though...
"Land Of The Dead" is 100 percent George Romero. All of the elements that made the original "Dead" movies such classics are carried over here. Great characters, original and thoughtful story, loads of action, and let us not forget: gore galore. The special effects truly steal the show here, as this is hands down the goriest movie I have seen in a long time (although, I'm sure much of it was trimmed down in theaters). The effects look real, unlike most newer horror flicks, and are a refreshing throwback to the 70's and 80's. As for the cast? Dennis Hopper, John Leguizamo, Simon Baker, Asia Argento. What more can I say? Dennis Hopper is great as the greedy, self-appointed leader of a new society, John Leguizamo is perfect as the badass rebel looking for a way out, Simon is his opposite, the sympathetic hero and Asia (whose father, Dario, has close connections with Romero) plays the strong female bit, and a semi-love interest to Baker's character. The story picks up exactly where "Day Of The Dead" left off. Now that the Dead (or "stenches," as they are referred to) have pretty much overtaken Earth, the upper-class citizens (i.e. those with money) have holed themselves up in a giant complex that serves as a new world, while the rest of the population are forced to fend for themselves on the street. There are obvious political undertones in this film that reflect on today's society (the supplemental material on the DVD further confirmed my theories) and in typical Romero fashion, it is pulled off very maturely, while still managing to entertain.
The movie isn't exactly perfect. My main gripe is that it is too short for it's own good. What I love about Romero's flicks is how you can get sucked into this alternate world he creates. Here, just as I was getting hooked, the movie was ending. But even still, it works well in it's 95 minute slot. All the actors were great in their roles, and the characters were well-written, despite the fact that there wasn't much time for exposition (I wish we could have gotten to see and gotten to know more of Argento's character though), and the best part: The zombies in this movie are REAL zombies. Not rabid, blood-thirsty animals. Don't get me wrong, I like today's zombie flicks, but nobody does it like George, and "Land Of The Dead" is a testament to that.